According to Prof. Philip Alston, unless growing inequality and continuing high poverty rates are addressed, the country will fall short of meeting the key UN Sustainable Development Goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030.
“Ghana is at a crossroads and must now decide whether to continue existing policies that will further enrich the wealthy and do little for the poor, or to make fiscal adjustments that would lift millions out of poverty and bring them into the agricultural economy in ways that would contribute significantly to economic growth,” Prof. Alston noted at the end of a 10-day fact-finding mission to the Greater Accra, Northern, and Upper East regions.
“The benefits of record levels of economic growth experienced over the past decade have gone overwhelmingly to the wealthy, and inequality is higher than it has ever been in Ghana,” added Prof. Alston, who examines the human rights implications of poverty in countries around the world.
But addressing a press conference Thursday, the Information Minister Mustapha Hamid punched holes into the claims of the Special Rapporteur noting that he is “uninformed.”
“The Professor [Philip Alston] states that he has heard “informed estimates that existing taxes yield less than ten percent of their potential because of the exemptions that have been included to satisfy special interest.”
“This is completely inaccurate,” he pointed out, explaining that “in 2017, we missed our revenue target by only four percent, while this may not be exactly good news, because we need to collect the maximum tax projections it nonetheless shows that his informed estimates are not exactly informed.”
“It is not correct to say that little redistribution takes place through the budget, it is also not correct to state that except for health and education programmes the rest of the budget disadvantages the poor,” he added.
According to him, the establishment of the Inner Cities and Zongo development fund redistributes wealth to the poor communities across the country aimed at improving their infrastructure base and “thereby improve standards of living.”
Hamid added that “there is evidence that this government is doing things differently.”
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