Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta justifies yet to be approved new taxes

Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta says the 1 percent COVID-19 levy introduced in the 2021 budget statement will among other things help pay for the COVID-19 vaccines imported into the country.

The government has announced the introduction of a COVID-19 levy to cater for the increasing state expenditure brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The newly proposed levy will be a one percentage point increase on both the existing VAT Flat Rate Scheme (VFRS) and National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL).

Caretaker Minister for Finance, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu announced the taxes in Parliament last Friday when he presented government’s budget for the financial year ending December 31, 2021.

Monies accrued from the imposition of the levy will go into the construction of health infrastructure, recruitment of more health personnel, vaccination programme, and address other challenges in a bid to manage the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, he said.

“To provide the requisite resources to address these challenges and fund these activities, the government is proposing the introduction of a COVID-19 Health Levy of a one percentage point increase in the National Health Insurance Levy and a one percentage point increase in the VAT Flat Rate to support expenditures related to COVID-19,” Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu disclosed.

But this has generated some level of public discourse. While others are in support, others are against the saying it is not the right time since COVID-19 is still causing havoc on businesses and livelihoods.

But Mr. Ofori Atta has urged Ghanaians to support the move.

According to him, government has projects to undertake to reduce the impact of the outbreak.

Mr. Ofori-Atta made this known in a virtual post-budget forum by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“It is important that we have the 1 percent COVID-19 levy on VAT which essentially is looking at making sure that we are able to pay for the vaccines and get our people working, and so we don’t have lockdowns and also undertake other projects such as Agenda 111 so that our infrastructure for healthcare will be a lot more robust.”

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