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Business News of Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Educated class must be honest; stop messing around with statistics – Finance Minister

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has expressed discomfort with the manner in which some Ghanaians misrepresent facts and figures regarding the growth and development of the country.

He argues that such misrepresentation paints the wrong picture and creates the impression among the ordinary citizen that the government has done next to nothing to improve their living standards thus making them reluctant to contribute their quota for national development.

The Minister blamed the educated class for the distortion insisting that they need to be honest with their interpretation of the current situation and put things in the right context.

Ken Ofori-Atta believes that since the Akufo-Addo led NPP government came into power, things have drastically improved though they aren't perfect.

"I think we need to have a pretty honest conversation as a nation. What are we doing to ourselves? As we get frustrated I don't think we should play with where we are as a society. So when Nana (GUTA president) talks about interest rates being high, exchange rates being that, I am saying okay maybe Nana came to Ghana this year and did not see what had happened before. I am not saying that things are perfect but I really want us always to put things in context. He is very right about the uses of our taxes and the issue of corruption. But when we have our educated class also pretending that there are no changes, it sends a signal down that you can continue to be cynical" he remarked.

Ken Ofori-Atta's comments were in response to the observations made by GUTA president Nana Barima Dr. Ofori Ameyaw in his solidarity message presented at the launch of GRA's National Tax Campaign in Accra on Wednesday about the high cost of doing business in the country, the current unfavorable economic conditions and the multiple taxes paid only for a few corrupt politicians to squander it.

But rebutting GUTA president's assertions, Finance Minister noted that when he assumed office, "we were going through a period of 3.5% growth the lowest in the past ten years. This year we did 6.6% in the first quarter and 9.0% in the second quarter an average of 7.8% growth. That is real. Inflation was 15.4% it went down to 11.9% in August and then picked up again 12.2 with petrol price increase and the hurricane that happened in North Africa".

He advised that there is the need to put people in government in check at all times but was quick to add that "when we also do things that are right I don't want anybody messing around with the statistics. It has to be relative, it has to be educated, it has to say that well you have brought interest rates down from x% to x% but I want you to go further as opposed to interest rates are high. It's a very different language".

Ken Ofori-Atta was speaking as the guest speaker at the launch of the new campaign by GRA.

The campaign is geared towards raising awareness of the benefits of taxation, improving voluntary compliance, educating the general public on their tax obligations and rights and cause a positive change in attitudes which will ultimately lead to increased revenue for development.

The move is also aimed at widening the tax net especially to get people within the non-formal sector of the economy to comply with their civic duty and increase their number from the current 200, 000 taxpayers.

GRA has courted the support of NCCE to embark on this national civic education exercise expected to run for four weeks.

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