Public sector workers looking forward to a huge wage increment will not get it because the Finance Ministry says there is simply no money to meet such demands.

And indeed this situation is likely to persist until 2024 as the Technical Adviser at the Ministry Dr Samuel Nii Noi Ashong called on the country to tighten its belt for harder times.

He disclosed this while contributing to a discussion on the budget organised by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), Wednesday.

“If you look at the Budget, Covid-19 is not expect to abate until the end of 2023 and we’re all looking to be tightening our belts for a while and people should not be expecting huge wage increases in the course of the next few years. This is because we don’t have money to pay for it.

“You’ll realise that between wages and compensations for employees and unencumbered domestic revenues. If you net up all the mandated transfers which are required by law, talk of GETFund transfers, National Health Insurance, District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), the rest which is left is not enough to pay for wages and salaries, goods and service, social intervention programmes, that portion alone is not enough to pay for even wages and salaries,” he said.

He explained that if government is using that to pay for goods and services and other costs it “will be left with 40% in the hole and government would have to go and borrow to pay for that extra 40% plus goods and services and other commitments.”

Dr Nii Noi Ashong said, “it is not a rosy picture and let’s call a spade a spade and so when people go on about saying we don’t need the taxes and government must give this and that, the reality is that we don’t have the money.”

The government is projecting to collect ¢72 billion in revenue for the 2021 fiscal year but 90 percent of the money will go into interest payment on loans and compensation leaving virtually nothing for development.

Government has announced the suspension of vehicle income tax for beneficiaries of commercial public transport popularly called trotros and taxis.

This the Caretaker Finance Minister Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said is aimed at reducing the cost of transportation under its tax relief program.

Presenting the 2020 Budget statement to Parliament Friday, the Suame MP said, “Government in 2020 outlined a number of initiatives to cushion the effect of the pandemic on the populace.

Regarding Vehicle Income Tax, he said government is suspending the “quarterly instalment payments of the vehicle income tax for the third and fourth quarters of 2021 for trotros and taxis as part of measures to reduce the cost of transportation.”

The Suame MP also announced a tax rebate of 30 per cent on the income tax due for companies in hotels and restaurants, education, arts and entertainment, and travel and tours for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2021.

For operators of small businesses using the income tax stamp system, government is suspending the quarterly income tax instalment payments for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2021.

There is also an extension of the waiver of interest as an incentive for early payment of accumulated tax arrears.