We were trapped into accepting new taxes – Dr. Obeng

President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng, says his members are unable to take on any more taxes.

According to him, the recent three taxes that were imposed on businesses i.e. the growth and sustainability levy, the excise levy and the income tax amendment, did not face much resistance from his organization because they were trapped into accepting it.

Speaking on PM Express, he explained that due to the fear that any significant agitation against the taxes could lead to a much longer IMF negotiation and thus further worsening the economic downturn in the country, they reluctantly agreed to the new taxes.

He said any attempt to introduce new taxes will be detrimental to their businesses as they will be unable to absorb it any more.

“No, we can never pay more taxes. You see these taxes that we allowed rather reluctantly are because we were trapped because of this IMF programme that if we do unnecessary agitation to stop this programme, it might also hurt the generality of the Ghanaian.

“That’s why you saw the businesses agitating and all that and yet we did not do anything like demonstration or doing something that will affect the IMF programme because we all know that it is a necessary tool for rebuilding the economy. And that is where we find ourselves.

“It doesn’t mean that we are able to absorb these taxes, we’re not able to absorb it. And that we are still going to talk to government and through to the Mid-Year and all that we know that good sense is going to prevail for them to know that these taxes are obnoxious and it’s not going to help businesses.”

Dr. Obeng added that he is hoping the government either reduces or removes the three new taxes as the country readies to receive the first tranche of the IMF deal by the end of this week.

He said, “if we’re able to make a serious argument that when we do this and this  and then communicate to IMF that we can even get more without necessarily increasing these taxes , IMF is a rational being, they’re not there to destroy businesses, they want to have good reference from Ghana that when they came to Ghana businesses thrived.”

Meanwhile, he has called on government to adopt more pragmatic and efficient ways of ensuring tax compliance rather than piling on taxes.

“It’s counterproductive, and it does not even help the cause of enhancing on revenue collection.”

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