Over the past few years, Ghanaian citizens have grown increasingly disillusioned with their country’s political process as politicians have failed to deliver on their campaign promises. Despite assurances of economic reforms, many Ghanaians are skeptical about the government’s ability to improve the country’s economic situation and their lives.
In 2016, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) pledged to introduce significant economic reforms, with Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, now the head of the economic management team, playing a key role in the campaign. Dr. Bawumia criticized the then-governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) for imposing high taxes that were crippling small businesses and industries. He promised that the NPP would move the country away from a taxation-based economy to one focused on production, offering tax incentives to promote growth in industries and boost the overall economy.
However, it is still unclear whether the NPP has followed through on these promises, and many Ghanaians continue to express frustration with the political process and the lack of tangible improvements in their lives. The country has faced significant economic challenges in recent years, leading the government to impose additional taxes on citizens to generate revenue. This has further disappointed and frustrated many Ghanaians who had hoped for a better economic situation following the NPP’s promises in 2016.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated economic challenges in Ghana, prompting the government to introduce new measures to generate revenue. The Covid-19 Health Recovery Levy Bill, which imposed a 1% special levy on the supply of goods and services and imports, was introduced in 2021. Later in 2022, the government introduced the Electronic Transfer Levy Act, which initially imposed a 1.5% levy on electronic transfers but was later reduced to 1%. Despite these measures, the government still sought a $3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2022, subject to conditions imposed by the IMF.
On March 31, 2023, Ghana’s parliament passed three revenue bills aimed at generating approximately GH¢4 billion per year to supplement domestic revenue. These bills faced opposition from citizens, but the government justified them as necessary for the country’s economic recovery. Additionally, on April 1, 2023, the government introduced a new fee called the Digital Transport Fee (DTF), which will apply to all rides in Ghana and be set at 1 GHS per trip. A new tax for betting, games of chance, and lottery was also introduced, with a 10% tax on all winnings and a 20% tax on all revenue for betting companies.
Despite the government’s efforts to generate revenue, many Ghanaians remain disappointed with its performance, particularly regarding its promise to move away from a taxation-based economy. As the country continues to struggle economically, some are left wondering whether the government’s promises were merely empty rhetoric.
The government has defended its measures, stating that they are necessary to address the economic challenges facing the country. However, it is up to each individual to judge whether the government has fulfilled its promise to shift from taxation to production or from taxation to further taxation. As Ghana’s citizens grapple with economic uncertainty, they remain hopeful that the government will take tangible steps to improve their lives and the country’s economic situation.
By: Malise Omoloye