The African Center for Health Policy Research and Analysis (ACH-PRA) suggests that the government should consider scrapping the 1% COVID-19 tax now that the restrictions at entry points have been lifted.
The Center argues that it is not prudent for the public to pay the tax when COVID-19 is no longer a pandemic.
This follows calls from the public for the tax to be abolished since Ghana has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions at entry points across the country, effective from May 20, 2023.
Speaking to Citi News, Dr. Thomas Anaba, the Executive Director of the African Center for Health Policy Research and Analysis, emphasized that the government must remove the COVID-19 tax.
“I think it is a step in the right direction that we are no longer under COVID-19, and all the problems have ended. We have received loans and funds for COVID-19, almost twice the amount we were targeting to help address the pandemic. So, we don’t see this tax as necessary, even though we didn’t support it. We believe it’s really time for the government to remove the COVID-19 tax along with all the other taxes they are imposing,” Dr. Anaba expressed .
Dr. Thomas Anaba further urged the government to provide Ghanaians with an account of the amount generated since the introduction of the tax.
“Our calls haven’t yielded results, and I don’t know how much more we need to raise our voices for them to understand that they need to be accountable for all the money spent on COVID-19 and all the money collected in the name of COVID-19.”
“I fear they won’t do it, but we will continue to demand that they show some respect to Ghanaians by providing an account of the money collected as COVID-19 taxes, including all the funds collected in the name of COVID-19,” demanded the Executive Director of the African Center for Health Policy Research and Analysis.
Ghana lifts COVID-19 restrictions at all entry points
Ghana has lifted COVID-19 restrictions at all entry points of the country, effective Saturday, May 20, 2023.
This announcement was made by the Ghana Health Service in a statement signed by its Director-General, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye.
The decision, according to the GHS, was based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration on May 5, 2023, that COVID-19 is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The GHS stated in its statement, among other things, that pre-departure testing and testing at all points of entry are no more a requirement for all passengers.
New taxes will help pay for COVID-19 freebies, other expenses
The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah in 2021 indicated that the new taxes were to help address the huge fiscal gap created as a result of the government’s COVID-19 expenses.
According to him, the government spent about GH¢19 billion of borrowed funds to provide free water and free electricity among other expenses to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and that amount must be repaid.
“That GH¢19 billion has to be paid for at some point. The liabilities we have incurred have to be paid for. COVID-19 expenses are going to be with us at least for the medium term… It does [include free water and electricity] which is part of the COVID-related expenses,” he said.