We Must Tax Unused Lands in Prime Areas – Osafo Maafo
Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo has made proposals for unused lands held by private individuals to be taxed.
According to him, the introduction of such taxes will reduce speculative activities in the acquisition of land.
The Senior Minister bemoaned the act where individuals buy lands in prime areas of the city but refuse to develop them, waiting for their value to appreciate over time to sell without paying taxes to government.
Speaking to Citi Business News on the sidelines of the Regional Economic Outlook organised by the International Monetary Fund(IMF), Yaw Osafo Marfo argued that the move can be one of the ways to increase revenue for the country.
“It is a recommendation I am making. I am saying that elsewhere, you can’t buy a land in a prime area for speculative reasons and wait for years for the value of the land to go up by fifty times then you sell and put all that money in your pocket. There should be away for government to tax that land,” he said.
He was of the view that such a tax law will prevent people from acquiring land in prime areas of the city, refusing to develop them in years, distorting architectural plan of the city.
He also argued that the act has pushed people to look for land outside the inner city while some land lie fallow.
“This habit is pushing people out of the city to look for land at the outskirt. I think we have not exhausted all the land in the city. But it is because people are holding on to it and increasing the prices, the rest of us are forced to go out,” he lamented.
Mr. Osafo Marfo who was speaking in the presence of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta observed that the minister can always table the motion before government’s economic team for the proposal to be considered and a policy sent to parliament to be passed.
Making some more proposals that could help revenue mobilization, the Senior Minister stated that collection of property rate which is currently handled by local government agencies could be centralized.
He argued that“ the assemblies are unable to collect the money on behalf of government.
“Look at the properties in the central business district alone and all the taxes received in the Greater Accra region in 2017 from the local assemblies was a little over 10 million cedis”
He maintained that the local assemblies have no capacity to collect property tax which is very essential for revenue collection for the state.