Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has admitted that the country has no money and the government may have to look elsewhere for money.
He said although the demands of public sector workers for salary increment are legitimate, the government has no money at the moment to settle them.
This, he admitted was the reason the government suggested that the E-levy be collected to revive the economy as the government takes other measures to meet the demands of Ghanaians.
Some analysts had predicted that the government was broke and had to cut down on expenditure, especially at the Presidency.
“I look at teachers and civil servants for example, and I will be the first to admit that the salaries are indecent, nobody will argue with that. At the same time, it is 60 percent of all the revenue we collect from 700,000 people [go into salary payment,] that is also a fact,” Ofori-Atta stated while speaking in Wa in the Upper West Region during the fourth townhall meeting on the E-levy, on Monday, February 21, he said
“So yes, there is a legitimate demand for more and there is a legitimate reality that there is no money. So what do we do as a society? Then you ask me to give you more salary, which is fine, then I say but it is your colleague civil servant as who collects the money collecting the money, so how can you be responsible for collecting the money, not collect it and then tell me to give you the money. That will be another issue.”
He reiterated the need for Ghanaians to support moves by the Akufo-Addo-led government to impose a tax on electronic transactions.
Initially proposed to be pegged at 1.75 percent, the government has now reviewed the rate to 1.5 percent but the levy is still facing resistance by a section of the Ghanaian public and the Minority in Parliament.
The government has since been on a tour of the country engaging the public in what has been christened ‘Government Townhall Meeting on E-Levy’ aimed at rallying support for the proposed tax policy.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said the government needs the money to be able to take care of critical government expenditure in addition to building infrastructure and creating jobs.
He said even though the E-Levy may not bring in a lot of money, what would be realized should be enough to support the government.
He added that had the Minority not resisted the policy, the government would have started realizing money that would have been used to pay District Assembly Common Fund.
“E-levy as small as you might think, it will be GH¢7 billion, starting this year if we had started early so we could pay your District Assembly Common Fund but your [opposition] sitting on it,” he said.
The Minister observed that the majority of the Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 11 constituencies in the Upper West are NDC and that he is not surprised they do not support the e-levy.
“If I look at Upper West where we have 11 constituencies…we have 340,000 people being youth with serious issues of unemployment with eight of our MPs coming from the NDC. What reason will they have to support an e-levy which is looking about GH¢10 billion intervention called YouStart which is looking at getting to the heart of employment,” he said.
“Hate NPP all you want but what about your 340,000 youth who need jobs? What is the reason?” he wondered.