2022 Budget : Parliamentarians Must Debate Dispassionately

By: Dr. Kofi Amponsah-Bediako,  An Expert in Development Communication
Many countries the world over are faced with serious economic difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Ghana, many workers in the Public Sector had to sit at home and yet be given their salaries as part of measures to cushion workers from the pandemic. There was also free supply of electricity and water to people in the country. All these were done to ensure that lives were saved, since any lives lost could not be brought back. These measures, though expensive, had to be taken by the government for Ghanaians to feel comfortable during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
It’s against his background that, the 2022 Budget Statement as presented by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, concerned itself to raising lots of revenue to finance socioeconomic programmes in the country.  Ghana is today faced with the need to make expenditures relating to road construction, supply of water, construction of health facilities, expansion in the transportation sector and also the continuous finance of the free Senior High School, SHS programme which also covers technical and vocational programmes, among others. In the light of these and other mounting pressures in the form of high expenditure, the government of the day had to think of innovative ways of raising more revenue to finance national development programmes.
For this reason, the government thought it necessary to scrap road toll while it introduced a levy on all electronic transactions. The scraping of the road toll will bring some relief to the people. In addition, it will help to reduce delay on the roads where queues of vehicles are encountered in line with payment of road tolls. This will help traffic situations to ease,  enabling vehicles to move faster. It is equally important to note that the revenue generated by the road toll was not adequate for the rehabilitation roads. Also, introduction of the levy on electronic transactions is therefore more appropriate because the use of e-transactions cuts across larger sections of the population. This means that more people have been roped into the tax net to enable them to  contribute to national development.
Another important feature of the budget is the step taken by the government to create more employment opportunity for the youth.  A programme known as “Youstart” initiative will be introduced during the first Quarter of 2022. Under this programme, young and enterprising men and women can set up their registered businesses and be evaluated and monitored by the banks. The government will make money available through the banks to ensure that one million jobs are created annually.
What is good about this initiative is that job creation will be moved away from the Public Sector into the Private Sector which is the engine of growth. It is equally important for the government to continue to spread its tentacles into areas where more people can be brought into the tax net so that as many people as possible can contribute to national development. The available systems and structures as at now cannot immediately widen the tax net.
The Ghana Card together with the electronic address system rolled out by government are all meant to formalise the economy to ensure that everyone makes contribution, no matter how small, towards national development. The issue of widening the tax net to cover more people will be a subject matter not only for this year, but the years ahead. It is only when more people are roped into the tax net that more revenue can be accrued to cover the ever increasing expenditure.
The Minority and the Majority in Parliament are expected to debate the 2022 Budget dispassionately in the interest of mother Ghana.

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