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AGI Demands Gov’t “Hold off” 5% Straight Levy

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The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) has called on the Ministry of Finance in an intercepted letter to “hold off the implementation of the 5% straight levy in its current state” as announced by Mr Ken Ofori-Atta in July 2018 when he presented the Mid-year budget review.

The Finance Minister on Thursday, 19 July told parliament that there will be intensive conversion of the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) of 2.5% and also conversion of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) VAT rate of 2.5% to a straight levy.

“On the under-performance for the first five months of 2018, we will end the year with an estimated deficit of 4.9% of GDP compared to the programmed target of 4.5%, resulting in a fiscal gap of GHS870 million, unless we immediately implement some fiscal measures; intensive tax compliance measures, new revenue measures, intensive conversion of NHIL (2.5%) to a straight levy, conversion of GETFund VAT rate of 2.5% to a straight levy, imposition of luxury vehicle tax of GHS1,000 – GHS2,000 on non-commercial vehicles with capacity of 3.0 litres and above, review of PIT to include an additional band of GHS10,000 and above per month at a rate of 35% and downward adjustment discretionary expenditures,” Mr Ofori-Atta announced when he presented the Mid-year budget review.

The amendment effectively reduces the VAT from 17.5% to 12.5%, making the disaggregated 5% a straight tax.

The AGI, in its letter, however said implementing the 5% straight levy will have dire consequences on consumer pricing leading to economic hardship.

“We, therefore, write to request your office to hold off implementation to allow for further engagement and fine-tuning,” the letter signed by the AGI’s Chief Executive Officer, Seth Twum-Akwaboah, said, adding: “Most businesses in Ghana have wide distribution channels which typically run from manufacturer/importer – distributor – wholesaler – retailer. The compounding impact of the 5% straight levy cost through the various value chains sampled shows a price inflation to the consumer of 15% – 20%. This will significantly impact the purchasing power of consumers as retail pricing is estimated to go up by 15% – 20%”.

The AGI warned that it will be challenging for manufacturers to pass on the 5% cost through their value chains as the level of price inflation will cause volume contraction as consumers purchasing power is impacted.

“This will create significant operating capital challenges consequently constraining re-investment, capital expenditure and job creation opportunities”, the AGI said, adding that since the implementation of the straight levy regime would mean manufacturers can only claim 12.5% leaving 5% as cost burden which will be passed on through the chain, it will put local manufacturers at a disadvantage as other businesses covered under the 3% VAT Flat Rate Scheme (retailers/traders) will not suffer the unclaimed VAT (5%) under the new straight VAT regime and can, therefore, offer more competitive prices.

“This effectively makes local manufacturers less competitive. The straight levy also places an additional tax burden on already tax compliant local manufacturers and increases already stretched Input cost pressures as the 5% becomes part of their production cost.”

In the AGI’s view, government must suspend implementation of the 5% straight levy “in order to safeguard businesses and livelihoods and also maximise revenue for the Ghana Revenue Authority.”

It proposed a waiver of the 5% straight levy for businesses with extended value chains and requested that the Finance Minister hold “further dialogue on alternative ways of generating the desired revenue without creating the identified inflationary impact through the chain”.

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