Consumers are to experience an immediate halt in the increase of utility and fuel prices in the short to medium term in what will be one of the first decisions embarked on by Minister of Finance nominee Ken Ofori Atta. Prices of some petroleum products last week went up by 11 percent for the first pricing window in January, 2017. Checks by Citi Business News indicate that the price of a litre of petrol went up between 8 and 11 percent while the same quantity for a litre of diesel is up between 9 and 11 percent. A litre of petrol at some major Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) is now selling between 4 cedis and 4 cedis 15 pesewas. The hikes have attracted some level of agitations from consumers who say the increment is too high. Some commercial drivers have already begun adjusting their fares following the increase in fuel prices. Checks by Citi Business News with some floating taxi drivers in the nation’s capital reveal that fares have been increased by about 20 percent. “For those of us floating drivers, we are at the mercy of the customers; some agree to adjustments in fares while others don’t; following the increases in petroleum prices, I charge 12 cedis for a distance I used to charge 10 cedis before the increase,” one taxi driver stated. Speaking to the press for the first time after his nomination was officially announced by President Nana Akuffo Addo, Ken Ofori Atta said government was determined to bring immediate relief to consumers thus hikes in utility as well as fuel prices will not take off any time soon. ”We will have to examine our energy mix and I think we’re likely going to get a little bit more from gas which will then help in giving us a chance to breath from that, so I don’t expect us to be increasing prices of fuel and ECG. We are looking actually to see how we can as we promised, bring some relief to Ghanaians”. Ken Ofori Atta added promises made to Ghanaians and businesses during the campaign period including tax cuts among others will be fulfilled. The Nana Akuffo Addo led government during the campaign period promised to make some tax cuts including abolishing the Special Import Levy, 17.5% VAT on Financial Services, 17.5% VAT on domestic airline tickets as well as the 5% VAT on Real Estate sales. Import duties on raw materials and machinery for production within the context of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) Protocol are also to be removed . While corporate tax rate is to be reduced from 25% to 20%. VAT for micro and small enterprises are also to be reviewed from the current 17.5% to the 3% Flat Rate VAT. Other tax reforms that are expected to be experienced include an introduction of tax credits and other incentives for businesses that hire young graduates from tertiary institutions as well as a review of the withholding taxes imposed on various sectors including the mining sector. ”I think when taxes get to pernicious people have the tendency to dodge them and then you criminalize good citizens. I think we can cut down on some of those taxes at the same time be very vigilant and deliberate about revenue enhancement and that we can do”. Ken Ofori Atta said.
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