In a press release on the 2011 Budget signed by Bishop Akolgo, Executive Director, the Centre said the essence of macro-economic policy should not only be ensuring stability, but more importantly to help the economy achieve its full potential of sustainable, broad-based growth and the redistribution of income to reduce poverty.
“This can be done by ensuring that fiscal and monetary as well as exchange rate and employment policies do not lead to too high or too low budget deficit and inflationary target,” the release said.
The Centre was of the view that taxation enhanced internal revenue mobilisation and re-enforced the social contract between governments and the citizenry.
He commended government for some laudable initiatives to plug the leakages in the tax system such as the gift tax, the import duty on rice and poultry products.
However, the Centre said it was wary of taxes that would place additional burden on the poor and cited the proposed increment in the Tema Oil Refinery Debt Recovery Levy, which it said would impact negatively on the poor as it was likely to lead to increases in transport fares.
The Centre therefore, requested government to re-think the decision to increase the levy and present a detailed and comprehensive account on what had accrued in the fund since its introduction in 2003 and how such monies had been used.
“We also observe that there is the lack of disclosure of tax exemptions and subsidies provided various companies as these constitute forgone revenues for the year that must be transparently disclosed to citizens.”
“An example is the subsidies paid to mining companies for electricity,” the Centre said.
On the water sector, ISODEC said the intention by government to improve rural dwellers’ accessibility to quality water was laudable, noting however that government had failed on its delivery targets for 2010.
“For example only 4.3 per cent of boreholes and 1.5 per cent small community pipe systems promised by government for 2010 had been constructed at the time of the 2011 budget.”
“This low level of budget performance is unacceptable and immediate steps need to be taken to improve budget performance,” the Centre said.
ISODEC commended government for continuing the pro-poor programmes such as the school feeding programme and capitation grant, free school uniforms and for the building of 175 schools to replace schools under trees.
The Centre called on government to increase the number of planned schools to be built for educational facilities under trees annually to 600 schools.
He lauded government’s plan to implement the National Child Health Policy but asked that specific details should be provided on the implementation of the policy in 2011 to ensure effective monitoring by citizens.
On the petroleum sector, the Centre commended government for de-emphasising petroleum revenues in favour of internally generated revenues.
“This is good for expectation management and sector-wide development,” it said.
The Centre said petroleum revenue expected to accrue to the country in the 2011 Budget was estimated at GH¢540 million, however, the budget failed to tell Ghanaians the target price used to arrive at this estimation.
“We also know the government is embarking on petroleum price insurance as in hedging, however, the budget is completely silent on this very important financial instrument that would have effects on the country’s petroleum resources,” the release added.
On the Petroleum Bills, the Centre said while the passage of the Revenue Management, Exploration and Production Bills were given prominence in the budget, the Local Content and Participation Bill did not receive mention.
“It is our considered opinion that converting our petroleum resources into lasting benefits rests on how we design, implement and enforce local content, local participation and value-addition if we are not to repeat the dismal performance in the solid mineral and timber sectors.
“We need a transparent process of petroleum pricing,” it said.