Public Service International launches tax justice campaign

Tax-Justice-Public Service International (PSI) has launched a global campaign dubbed “Tax Justice Project” to ensure that African governments get the required revenue to improve the public sector services.

Under the project, efforts at enhancing the public sector should include unions working with revenue agencies in promoting tax efficiency to generate more money for development.

The project is being funded by the Netherland Trade Union and FNV Mondial and supported by PSI affiliates in Ghana, namely the Local Government Workers Union, Health Services Workers Union, Public Utility Workers Union, Public Service Workers Union, Teachers and Educational Workers Union, Civil and Local Government Workers Union and Ghana Registered Nurses Association.

Mr Bernard Adjei, Deputy General Secretary of the Public Service Workers Union, addressing the participants of the affiliate unions, urged them to show interest in government’s tax policies and advocate against excessive tax incentives and exemptions.

He noted that government’s concern over the public sector wage bill had resulted in restraint on employment through the implementation of the net hiring freeze policy.

“This has contributed to some public service delivery shortfalls and real wage of public sector workers has also declined in recent times,” he said.

He expressed regret that government through the International Monetary Fund programme seeks a further decline in real wages of public sector workers, adding that “public sector wages are not the cause of the macroeconomic challenges that the wage restriction efforts of government seek to achieve”.

He said one of the challenges with pay levels and social security for public sector workers is their effects on fiscal space for other economic and social investments by government.

Mr Adjei said analysis suggests that if government could improve revenue generation through improved tax efficiency, elimination of tax avoidance and excessive tax concessions, there would be enough fiscal space for improved tax revenue for both further improvement in public workers compensation and social protection.

He said on the basis of the analysis, public sector unions need to reverse the trend by resisting government’s intention to further reduce real wages of public sector workers and “this can be achieved by ensuring that wage increase are at least equivalent to inflation rate”.

“In order to forestall the widening of the wage gap between the top and bottom, unions need to consider alternatives to the current across the board increase of pay on the Single Spine Salary Structure,” he stressed.

He expressed regret about the way tax exemptions are granted adding that the people do not benefit at all from those exemptions because of loopholes and advised African governments to strengthen their revenue authorities and the audit services.

Source: GNA

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