High fuel prices worrying; govt must cut petroleum taxes in mid-year budget review – Expert

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A Petroleum Expert, Dr Ussif Sulemana, has said the2022 mid year budget review should look at ways to bring down cost of fuel.

In his view, high fuel prices amount to stampeding consumer spending and when consumer spending stampeded, he said, it has its own dynamics that every nation will not like to handle.

Speaking in an interview with TV3 ahead of the budget review, h e said “It fits into the cost of buying goods, you can be assure that you will not be able to arrest the inflationary figures. You need innovative ways of lessening the burden on the consumer because high burden on the consumer is going to be very difficult for every nation to handle, apart from the security risk and the ramification that it may have.

“Having high energy cost to the consumer is tantamount to stampeding consumer spending and when consumer spending stampeded it has its own dynamics that every nation will not like to handle.

“The government has to be strategic in handing down tax cuts and other areas that stimulate economic growth. , that can stimulate consumer spending of sort.

“If nothing is done and we will want to live solely market forces to be able to arrest the high energy cost they are having now, we might just wait in perpetuity because what is happening at the upstream side, there is no end in sight and factors that would have helped to cool down the upstream side that is bringing the oil prices below the three didn’t figure, those factors are always looking impotent, numbed. They are not having that impact.”

The Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta will be presenting the 2022 mid-year budget review in Parliament today, Monday July 25.

The presentation will take place at 1PM.

The budget review is expected to centre on the move to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other issues.

Ahead of the budget review, analyst including the Vice President of Imani Africa, Bright Simons has said Mr Ken Ofori-Atta must be candid in his presentation and admit that domestic revenue handles such as the Value Added Tax (VAT), the e-levy and Corporate Tax, are not working as they should.

He said the Finance Minister should admit that these revenue handles are underperforming.

Speaking in an interview with TV3 ahead of the budget review, on Thursday July 21, Mr Simons said investors will be looking at whether government makes these recognitions or they just engage in posturing.

“[Ken Ofori-Atta] must also be a bit more humble and admit that the domestic programmes are not going well as they said it would. Some of that will be acknowledgement of revenue handles that they are talking about and their performance. Where I will be most interested in whether or not it is sufficiently candid is admitting that some of these policy restrictions that were fiercely resisted are also having negative effect, not just they are underperforming.

“I think that e-levy has a cross effect on other revenue mentions because of its impacts on sentiments. We are going to start seeing that in Consumption Taxes. So some of us will be looking very closely at VAT and its performance, we will be looking very closely at Corporate Taxes and its out turn.

“We will be looking to see whether the government recognizes at this stage that it is beginning to lose credibility as being capable of taking these decisions in good faith or simply posturing.

“I think that is the biggest issue facing the government now. If investors get the view that they are just posturing, they don’t tend to do things fundamentally different, they will not be able to achieve their most important policy objectives right now which is to reduce the cost of our debt. If they don’t bring down the international rate it will affect everything else. This 20 per cent yield, 22 per cent yield moving to 25 per cent yield is moving the country aggressively towards a duration where we have a default,” he said.

A Financial Analyst and Chief Operations Officer at the Dalex Finance, Mr Joe Jackson also asked the government to cut spending on some programmes especially the feeding component of the free Senior High School (SHS) programme.

In his view, times are hard, the country is broke therefore, critical decisions ought to be taken by managers of the economy to look at ways to cut expenditure.

“It is time for us to look at all the expenditure cuts, it is time for us to look and wonder, do wo we want to spend this much on feeding and boarding in the SHS regime?

“Is this what we want to spend our money in the such difficult times on? These are hard times, there are hard decisions to be taken and one of the things we must realize is that Ghana is broke.”

Ghana’s economy is currently saddled with severe challenges.

This has led to the country heading to go to the International Monetary Fund for support.

Accordingly, a staff team led by Carlo Sdralevich arrived in Ghana on July 6 to engage the government of Ghana. The team concluded its initial work on Wednesday July 13.

The IMF team met with Vice President Dr Mahamudu BawumiaFinance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, and Governor Ernest Addison of the Bank of Ghana.

They also met with the Parliament’s Finance Committee, civil society organizations, and development partners, including UNICEF and the World Bank to engage on social spending.

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Sdralevich issued the following statement said Ghana is facing a challenging economic and social situation amid an increasingly difficult global environment.

The fiscal and debt situation has severely worsened following the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, investors’ concerns have triggered credit rating downgrades, capital outflows, loss of external market access, and rising domestic borrowing costs.

“In addition, the global economic shock caused by the war in Ukraine is hitting Ghana at a time when the country is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic shock and with limited room for maneuver. These adverse developments have contributed to slowing economic growth, accumulation of unpaid bills, a large exchange rate depreciation, and a surge in inflation.

“The IMF team held initial discussions on a comprehensive reform package to restore macroeconomic stability and anchor debt sustainability. The team made progress in assessing the economic situation and identifying policy priorities in the near term,” the IMF said.

It added “The discussions focused on improving fiscal balances in a sustainable way while protecting the vulnerable and poor; ensuring credibility of the monetary policy and exchange rate regimes; preserving financial sector stability; and designing reforms to enhance growth, create jobs, and strengthen governance.

“IMF staff will continue to monitor the economic and social situation closely and engage in the coming weeks with the authorities on the formulation of their Enhanced Domestic Program that could be supported by an IMF arrangement and with broad stakeholders’ consultation

“We reaffirm our commitment to support Ghana at this difficult time, consistent with the IMF’s policies.

“Staff express their gratitude to the authorities, civil society, and development partners for their constructive engagement and support during the mission.”

The Government of Ghana on Friday July 1 announced that it was seeking support from the IMF.

This followed a telephone conversation between the President and the IMF Managing Director, Miss Kristalina Georgieva, conveying Ghana’s decision to engage with the Fund, a statement by the Ministry of Information said.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana

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