The President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng, has taken a swipe at the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, also known as Joe–Wise for blaming members of the Association for the high cost of products on the market.
Joseph Osei-Owusu, a lawyer and incumbent Member of Parliament for Ashanti Bekwai said GUTA and for that matter traders have lost the moral rights to complain about recent tax increments by the NPP Government. He accused them of under-declaring their imported goods, in order to avoid paying the required taxes with regards to duties and related charges as well as over pricing their goods to make abnormal profits.
In response to him, Dr. Joseph Obeng, speaking on UTV on Monday evening, denied the allegations, adding that even if a few recalcitrant ones are doing so, it is unfair to blame that on the entire membership of GUTA and therefore traders in general.
He challenged Joe Wise to take inventory of the number of tax bills or laws that has been laid and subsequently passed by Parliament, since 2009 when he became a Parliamentarian, and then he would appreciate the actual reason the cost of goods keeps on rising on the market.
According to Dr. Joseph Obeng, it is the duty and related charges on imported goods at the point of entry, i.e. the habour and borders plus other taxes imposed by the Government on the business community, as well as the Government’s inability to control inflation that are the main reasons behind the rising cost of goods and services in Ghana. “Traders pay about nineteen taxes on their goods before they can clear them” he added.
He wondered why GRA keeps on declaring that it has exceeded its revenue targets year-in-year-out and yet Government keeps on blaming GUTA for not willing to pay taxes.
He further argued that his Association and its members have at all times been responsible citizens and have always honoured their tax obligations to the state and that is why the GRA always exceeds its revenue targets for the past years; adding that that the Politicians are rather the ones to be blamed.
According to him, after the various taxes are paid by members of GUTA and Traders in general as well as from other sources including workers from all sectors of the economy as well as Government employees, the chunk of the money is wasted frivolously under the guise of Government expenditure.
He mentioned, ex-gratia, fuel allowances, per deems, traveling allowances, etc. that Government spends appointees as reasons why we have landed ourselves in this economic mess.
He called on the Government to take the necessary steps to widen the tax net by ensuring that everybody doing business has been duly registered by GRA and made to pay his or her tax as required by law.
He expressed disappointment in the NPP led Government, adding that the passing of the 3 new taxes is a clear indication that the Government does not respect the business community.