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News Taxes to Bridge Economic Gap Created by COVID-19 Reliefs – Oppong Nkrumah

Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has indicated that Ghanaians will have to pay for the free provision of water and electricity provided by government in 2020 as relief from the impact of Covid-19.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in April 2020, announced a free utility package for Ghanaians to lessen the virus’ negative impact following a lockdown in Accra and Kumasi for three months

The President then extended the relief period for the most vulnerable when the three months was over.

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Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said the water and electricity was free to the people of Ghana at the time, because government had to improvise to contain the looming crisis due to the pandemic.

“When we say free electricity it doesn’t mean that the IPP producer is also going to say because the President has said free electricity I won’t charge for it,” he stated.

The Minister said Ghana has spent about ¢19 billion on Covid-19 related issues and that includes the relief packages and that money has to be paid for at some point.

“So I am going back to Ofoasi to explain to my people why we need to ensure that we all pay that 1% extra so that we can continue to provide those services for the people of Ghana to protect lives and livelihoods,” he said.

This, according to him, will help bridge the gap between the country’s income and expenditure.

He noted that there is a need to, “get our people collectively across the political divide to understand that at some point, we have to get out of this one-step-forward, half-a step-back, sometimes one step forward, two steps backwards conundrum in which we find ourselves.

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“To do that, we cannot consistently borrow our way out of our problems, domestic resource mobilization has to be tweaked and it has to be done in a way that you can raise resources without overburdening the people,” the Minister said.

Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said government had to take a strategic decision to provide reliefs for Ghanaians without further burdening the people in the face of the harsh impact of Covid-19.

“For instance, if we are at war and the government has to make a decision that we have to procure ABCD… to go to war and win that war and does not necessarily task the population for it today…it is well in order for the government when we have won the war or on a clear path to winning the war, to then say let the people pay for the strategic mobilization,” he said.

He, therefore, observed that failure to introduce some tax components to solve the problem means “we will get to a point where our economy cannot pay for basic service debt, pay wedges and salaries and do things that prior to 2016 we found ourselves doing.”

Meanwhile, Former Deputy Finance Minister, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson on the same program maintains the government has been reckless with its expenditure.

According to him, the impact of Covid-19 on the economy is not as bad as the government seeks to portray.

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