The government of Ghana and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are currently in a secret deal over austerity measures that are likely to impose further hardship in Ghanaians. This is according to the Minority group in parliament who are of the view that the negotiations should rather be with Ghanaians and not the IMF.

A former Minister of State responsible for Finance, and the Minority’s Spokesperson on Finance, Dr. Anthony Akoto-Osei on Thursday revealed that information available to New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MPs) indicates that the IMF has recommended some measures for the consideration of government and that there are indications that the measures would be implemented but without the concern of Ghanaians.

Among the recommendations is the increase in selective tax rates such as higher ad valerom tax on Fuel, higher excise tax on specific products; higher tax rate on real estate along with stepped up registration and valuation efforts; immediate freeze on new tax exemptions; better identification and targeted auditing of large tax payers; legislative revisions on streamline exemptions permanently and strictly constrained power to grant them; thorough review of tax regime for free zones to reduce tax exemptions; and reconsideration of a windfall profit tax on mining.

“Certainly, these measures if implemented will have far reaching effects on various stakeholders. If the evidence on the new tax on financial services is anything to go by then unless proper consultations are done the proposed measures will have serious implementation problems,” Dr. Akoto-Osei stated, adding that discussions on this must be transparent and open to the Ghanaian public.

On the expenditure side of the equation the IMF proposal include among others, a reduction in wage costs through streamlining allowances; non-replacement of departing public sector employees in over staffed areas; reduction or elimination of transfers to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), multi-year wage agreements consistent with fiscal consolidation plans; and specific programs to reduce the public workforce while improving the skill mix.

It also include streamlining of sub vented agencies with time bound target for removing them the public payroll through closure or commercialization; full integration of spending by statutory funds in the overall investment programme combined with a review of impossible legislative change to replace rigid transfers; and further prioritization of capital spending combined with reduction in transfers to statutory funds to lowest permissible level.

Addressing journalists in Parliament House on Thursday, titled “After Senchi-Where is the Economy of Ghana Heading” the Minority Group says these measures have far reaching implications especially for the public sector workforce “and government cannot quietly have discussions with the IMF and expect Ghanaians to adopt whatever agreements that are reached,”

The argued that, if the current government believes in home grown policies, then the discussion must be done by Ghanaians and the debate must be done now. They said in view of the fact that some of the proposed measures are matters of legislation, it is important that the government presents them to parliament on time for ample debate.

Source: Jeorge Wilson Kingson/ Spy News Agency