Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) Disappointed with Government’s 2024 Budget Tax Reliefs

The Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) has expressed disappointment over the tax reliefs outlined in the 2024 budget presented to Parliament on November 15. GUTA contends that the granted reliefs lack broad-reaching consequences and will only positively impact a limited number of businesses and citizens.

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, announced various measures during the budget presentation, including the extension of zero VAT rates on locally manufactured African prints, sanitary pads, and locally assembled vehicles. Additionally, import duty waivers for electric vehicles and agricultural machinery were highlighted.

While GUTA acknowledges being consulted before the budget presentation, its president, Dr. Joseph Obeng, noted that their inputs were not incorporated. Dr. Obeng expressed concern that most of the challenges faced by businesses remain unaddressed, leading to ongoing struggles.

He highlighted positive aspects of the reliefs, such as those for agricultural machinery, raw materials for pharmaceuticals, and African prints. However, he emphasized that these benefits apply to a minority of businesses. Dr. Obeng asserted that the high cost of doing business remains largely unchanged, impacting the majority of companies adversely.

Dr. Obeng criticized the retention of levies, such as the COVID-19 levy, questioning why it persists when the pandemic is no longer prevalent. He argued against keeping the COVID-19 levy, stating that it came to address a specific purpose and should be removed.

The GUTA president dismissed the argument that the government maintains the COVID-19 levy to offset debts incurred during the pandemic, highlighting that funds also came in, and the pandemic adversely affected businesses. He criticized the Special Import Levy and other taxes that were introduced as temporary measures but have become permanent, causing distrust in leadership.

Dr. Obeng concluded that businesses, lacking relief, would likely pass costs onto consumers, exacerbating challenges in an environment already affected by inflation. He also criticized the current structure of the Value Added Tax (VAT), citing its unfairness and contributing to conflicts between traders and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

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