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Tax Identification Numbers Requirement is a Sign That Free SHS is Failing

Just when you thought the ruling NPP couldn’t pull a fast one, a stunning maneuver, that is, on an angry and frustrated country, here it goes again foisting yet another requirement on Ghanaian parents seeking the best for their children.

Much criticism was leveled against the Free Education SHS policy when it was introduced last year, and for all the right reasons.  Critics, including the opposition NDC and some concerned civil society groups trenchantly maintained that the nation could not afford it.

Their rationale was that it will be incredibly expensive financially, and stubbornly difficult logistically to implement the policy. The government did not explicitly state how it was to going to pay for such a huge money guzzling project.

Even when pressed on the popular BBC show, Hard Talk, the President, Nana Akuffo Addo was evasive, he won’t give Steve Sanka, the host, a precise answer.

Apparently, the president had a good reason to hold back. The SHS project since getting off the ground has proved to be utterly cumbersome and a poorly thought out scheme. It is inherently a house of problems as evidenced by how chaotic students are rotated in and out of the system.

As currently operated, the system is overloaded and financially strapped, facts the government won’t readily admit. But the reality is that a huge financial hole has emerged in the ultimate implementation of the policy.

To this end what does the government do? It passes the buck on to Ghanaian parents who are already struggling to cope with countless nightmarish problems.

As was revealed in the 2019 budget, parents who want to access Free SHS for their children, will henceforth be required to show proof that they are genuine tax paying citizens.

They must in short be in possession of Tax identification numbers or TINS or else keep their children at home.

At face value, this is a ridiculous requirement and should be dismissed as nothing more than a desperate government struggling to stay relevant. Just like the voters ID card, it is unfailingly obvious that the government once again did not do due diligence before rolling out this dubious policy.

For one thing, Ghana does not have a comprehensive tax collection regime or system. For another it is haphazard as currently constituted despite the intimidating presence of the Internal Revenue Service.

Little wonder therefore that the government’s annual tax intake is meager because it lacks the resources plain and simple to enforce tax laws. As a direct consequence, millions of Ghanaians particularly those in the informal sector and in rural areas, inadvertently through no fault of theirs, fail to pay their taxes and many of them are hardworking parents who want the best for their wards.

This is a scheme clearly devised to frustrate Ghanaian families. How many of them have Tax Identification Numbers to begin with in the first place? It is indeed unforgiving and lamentable that once again our government sees it fit to take the population a ride for something it the government did not adequately prepare for.

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