We’re in danger of taxing our few businesses to their graves – Mahama laments
The former President of Ghana and the Presidential Candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the 2024 general elections, John Mahama, has bemoaned the excessive taxation regime which he says will collapse businesses if nothing is done about the situation.
Mr Mahama expressed this concern at the 7th Ghana CEO Summit & Expo on Monday, May 2022, 2023.
Speaking on the theme for this year’s summit, ‘Economic Sovereignty, Sustainable Corporate Governance, and Digital Industrial Transformation: New Paths for Growth and Prosperity; A Private-Public Sector CEO Dialogue & Learning’, the former President said, the dire state of the country’s economy has created an unfavourable environment for businesses and industries.
“I do not see the private sector as merely an avenue to fund our taxes. There’s a story of Aesop, a fairytale by Aesop of the hen that lay a golden egg each day, and how the greed of the owner led him to kill the hen in order to extract all the golden eggs that were in its belly at once. At last, he lost the hen and his regular source of income. We face a similar situation in Ghana today. We’re in danger of taxing our few businesses to their graves and losing the daily golden eggs that they produce for us.”
The former President expressed concern about how the conditionalities under the government’s programme with the International Monetary Fund could further exacerbate the situation for businesses.
“The higher tax burden imposed recently and the government’s agreement with the IMF to remove the majority of VAT and duty exemptions create a very challenging environment for businesses that have decided to remain in Ghana despite the poor investment climate that has been created by this administration.
According to him, the unfavourable business environment has caused Ghana to lose its place as the preferred business destination in West Africa.
“The government’s agreement with the Fund to increase electricity and water tariffs quarterly creates an additional burden. And let’s face it, as captains of industry, you know that Ghana has lost pride of place as the best place to do business in West Africa. The flowers that attracted you to set up your businesses in Ghana are gradually withering away. Many of your colleague CEOs have shut shop and left our shores and several others have moved their headquarters and staff to neighbouring countries.
“Having family and friends who own businesses, I know about the endless tax audits dating back several years that you continue to face. The call to appear at EOCO, the Economic and Organized Crimes Office, the harassment over our social security payments, multiple fees and charges for clearing imports or exports at our ports etc. Indeed there are many of you today who use the free port of Lome to import your goods and track them all the way to Ghana because of the plethora of fees and charges that we have at our ports.
The former president also called out the governing NPP for failing to stick to its campaign promise of taxing businesses less and increasing production.
“In any case, who can tell me what happened to the famous mantra and I quote, from taxation to production? There’s dwindling production and gargantuan taxation.
“Economic sovereignty in this modern era, viewed through the length of viable, healthy and beneficial interdependence and inter-relatedness must become the foundation for social growth and progress. And I may add, the quest for economics oriented must certainly go beyond the flowery and impactless speech about Ghana Beyond Aid.
He said a future NDC government under his watch will be “committed to meaningfully partnering with the private sector both local and foreign for sustainable growth and unleashing the potential of the private sector to contribute its share to uplifting the Ghanaian economy.”