Founder of Ashesi University College Dr. Patrick Awuah wants government to pay attention to empowering local authorities to solve problems facing communities.
One way to do this, he said, is to ensure authorities like the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies are able to raise local taxes enough to address local needs.
He was speaking ahead of an expected increase in taxes as the Finance minister reads the 2019 mid-year budget review. Government could be targetting consumption items with an inelastic demand such as energy and communication.
The expected increase brings back another conversation about the efficient use of taxes cutting waste in government and corruption.
Read also: ‘If I knew it would be this hard, I wouldn’t have started Ashesi University’
Speaking on the Joy FM Super Morning Show Monday, the celebrated education innovator Dr. Patrick Awuah observed that those who collect the most taxes are not those who are directly responsible for addressing the needs of the community.
But those who are directly responsible, local authorities, rely heavily on the central government for funds for their communities.
The Ashesi University College founding President faulted this arrangement as ineffective.
“When people feel that they are paying taxes and it is going to be used by some remote government officials for their own ends in a way that doesn’t benefit them directly….that is something every government should pay attention to.”
He said he would vouch for “a system where there is very broad local taxation that is used for local development.” Dr. Awuah said Ghana needs to design a system that gives local authorities power to raise funds from local taxation.
Ghana runs a unitary system of government that collects and aggregates money at the central government level for distribution through the local government system and the ministries.
The system, while expected to promote uniform development, has been faulted as incapable of addressing local development effectively. There has been an increasing agitation in communities with poor infrastructure with central government often under pressure to fix local concerns.
Despite a decentralisation system in Ghana’s constitution, experts say without deeper fiscal decentralisation, local authorities will continue to struggle to solve community problems.