Appointments committee approves Ken Ofori-Atta

The appointments committee of Parliament has approved Ken Ofori-Atta as the Minister for Finance by consensus.

However, the committee wants the nominee to provide further clarification on some four issues it raised during the vetting.

The minister-designate appeared before the committee on Thursday 25 March 2021 for four hours and for another four on Friday 26 March 2021, the only minister-nominee of President Akufo-Addo’s second-term government to have been vetted for two days.

The appointments committee during the vetting sessions requested of the Finance Minister-designate, to provide clarification on some four issues.

What they wanted

The committee asked the Finance Minister-designate to assist them with further and better particulars on the engagement of an international consulting firm, Mckinsey Group, by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), who were paid about US$18.5 million to boost their revenue collection drive.

Also, the Appointments Committee raised some concerns about a number of directors who were appointed to serve in various capacities in the public sector who previously held positions at Databank, a mutual funds and investment company co-founded by Ofori-Atta over 30 years ago.

Further, the appointments committee indicated that they will require an additional explanation from the Finance Minister-designate on issues raised by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) accusing the Ministry of Finance of failing to provide it with information on how the government spent the country’s oil revenue under the ABFA for four straight years and also on the utilization of petroleum receipts under PIAC.

Furthermore, the committee also requested the nominee to provide them with the deals on claims that the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) has saved the State GHC2.75 billion from January 2017 to July 2019.

Sources at the Finance Ministry have confirmed that the clarification requested by the Appointments Committee has been prepared and would be forwarded to the committee Monday 29 March 2021 ahead of the final confirmation of the nomination of the nominee by Parliament.

Vetting outcome

Ofori-Atta during his vetting identified revenue mobilization under property rates, addressing levels of tax exemption, and digitization of tax administration and collection as three key areas he will focus on should he get the nod from Parliament.

These three thematic areas, according to Ofori-Atta, will help push the current low tax-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of about 12.5% to the proposed tax-to-GDP ratio of at least 17% in a bid to moving Ghana Beyond Aid.

He described the 2021 budget statement “as a battle cry” for all Ghanaians “to share the burden” that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on us as a nation. He again noted that aside from the need to burden share, the country must also not lose sight of the fact that the 2021 budget seeks to complete at least 8,700 projects as the government’s way of bringing finality to the culture of not completing projects previously done with taxpayers’ monies.

“Consolidation is important for us because the macroeconomic indicators have been stable, and clearly what we did in the past three-and-half years was what was able to support us in 2020 when the pandemic hit,” Ofori-Atta said.

Ofori-Atta stated that a critical analysis of the taxes abolished during the first term of the Akufo-Addo administration showed that in net terms, taxpayers are better off now than under the previous John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.

“When you look at the taxes we abolished, reduction in electricity and what we have done during this COVID-19 era, clearly, on a net basis, we have not really hurt the Ghanaian taxpayer, if you compare us to the previous government,” he stressed.

He appealed to Ghanaians to embrace the call of sharing the financial burden of the state and be assured that the government is still committed to moving the economy from a taxation-driven one to a production-based economy.

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