Mr. Sydney Casely-Hayford a financial consultant has said it is high time government divested the National Investment Bank (NIB).

Responding to questions as to how government could raise money without increasing taxes on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Friday, Mr Casely-Hayford said it is not prudent that government did not divest any State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) in the last two years and that “… a bank like NIB is probably ripe for divestiture and government could have certainly raised some revenue from that.”

He explained that government could have raised more revenue to support its projects if it had divested some State-Owned Enterprises, adding that the SOEs are in distress and it is “probably” the right time for government to sell some of these businesses.

Mr. Casely-Hayford opined that “ even if they [SOEs] are profitable, it probably will be the right time to divest them, because if you do that when it is profitable, you are bound to get a better price.”

He however admitted that it will be difficult for government to implement all of its project without raising taxes and that it is a difficult budget put out by the government.

Mr Casely-Hayford told Super Morning Show host Bernard Saibu that he has nothing against the tax increments as government had to draw a balance between its projects and the revenue available to implement them.

on his part, a deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Seth Tekpey, who was also on the programme, said many of the SOEs are not profitable and that if there is a need to divest them, government needed to improve the balance sheets of these enterprises in order to get value for money when they are sold.

Mr. Tekpey pointed out that most of these SOEs have huge liabilities that make it necessary for government to tread cautiously, adding “…even when we sold a potentially profitable entity like Ghana Telecom, the liabilities were offloaded unto government and we continue to pay some of those liabilities.”

On the increase of the tax threshold, Mr Tekpey explained that government is just introducing some uniformity in the payment of taxes by businesses.

He said government want its taxes to be paid monthly and not quarterly as was the case before: “We want the money to be paid more promptly because we will make use of it [early]. It is not a question of increasing taxes…it is taxes which are due already but we want them paid over to government more promptly.”

He maintained that these are all strategies to help government face the challenges that a middle income economy brings. He said the rebasing of the economy does not change a lot as there are still some indicators that are peculiar to third world countries which should be overcome.

He therefore gave the assurance that government has put in place adequate measures to see the economic management strategy move from one of stabilization to a growth oriented one.

Story by Derick Romeo Adogla/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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