The flagbearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr John Dramani Mahama, has said small businesses will be completely exempted from corporate income tax in his next government if elected president again in the December 7 polls.

Mr Mahama also promised that “corporate income tax for medium-sized companies will be reduced from the current 25% to 15%.”

The former President further assured that newly-established medium-sized companies that employ staff up to 20 will be completely exempt from the payment of corporate income tax for one year.

Mr Mahama made these promises when he addressed the leadership of organised labour and professional groups at the Ho Technical University on Wednesday, 19 August 2020 as part of his campaign tour of the Volta region.

“And newly established medium enterprises that employ more than twenty (20) staff will be exempted completely from the payment of corporate income tax for two years. And we will exempt commercial vehicles, industrial and agricultural machinery from import duties,” he continued, adding: “My government from 2021 will exempt vehicles and all other equipment imported into the country for commercial, industry and agricultural purposes from import duty.”

Below is Mr Mahama’s full speech:

SPEECH BY HE JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA AT A CAMPAIGN INTERACTION WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF ORGANIZED LABOUR & PROFESSIONAL GROUPS HO TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY- WEDNESDAY AUGUST 19, 2020

Good afternoon my brothers and sisters and thank you very much for your kind acceptance of our invitation to join us today.

As you are aware, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as a major stakeholder in the development and effective management of our country, is gearing up, and strongly for the 2020 December General Elections.

This afternoon’s engagement is an opportunity for us to sell our message, and re-emphasise what we, the NDC and John Dramani Mahama, will do to reposition our beloved country on the path of prosperity.

I must say though that it is always exciting coming through the gates of the Ho Technical University and into this hall, the Dr. Afeti auditorium. I am happy, and most delighted that together with my Running Mate, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, we improved and expanded access to tertiary education with the conversion of polytechnics into technical universities.

One of the exciting occasions I had the privilege of taking part in, here at the Ho Technical University, was the inauguration of the Amatrol laboratory, in 2016. It is sad to be told that the laboratory has been abandoned and nothing technical is going on in these facilities that were built and furnished to be technical learning centres.

To you the lecturers, staff and students here, I want to assure you that we will not only ensure that these laboratories are put to good use, but we will as planned ensure that staff are trained at Amatrol in the United States of America to be able to effectively and efficiently impact the needed knowledge to our students.

Ladies and gentlemen, as a nation, we are weakened by multiple vulnerabilities. Some are temporary and easy to deal with, but some are systemic. We attained a lower-middle-income status about a decade ago, and since then we have been working hard to consolidate this status.

We have come a long way, and even if our status as a lower-middle-income country is not fully consolidated yet, this to us in the NDC, is but a temporary vulnerability, which in the next five to ten years will most certainly disappear because of the economic management and developmental focus of the next NDC government under John Dramani Mahama.

Ladies and gentlemen, we face a clear risk of being stuck at this level of development – because of the poor management and the huge non-capital expenditure by this government. That is our major vulnerability as a nation.

This government made no real effort to create an economy that generates prosperity. It made very little investments in production, innovation and creativity – which are the main drivers of prosperity. It abandoned projects and downplayed infrastructural development. And we have very worrying and disturbing cases of institutional failure.

Let me be very clear. Economic growth alone is not enough to avoid being stuck at the lower-middle level. In fact, as long as economic growth is based mainly on cheap labour and is driven mainly by the exploitation of natural resources, we won’t be able to avoid being stuck at our current low prosperity level.

Using the current economic model of the Akufo-Addo government, we won’t grow within the next decade to guarantee sustainable livelihood and create the needed jobs for the teeming youth of our country.

To create sustainable development and prosperity – something we all deserve – we must build a robust social and economic infrastructure, one that supports creativity, innovation and the production of high value-added products and services.

We all know that our current government has done and is doing very little in this direction, being content to only showcase dubious and debatable macroeconomic figures. They are not sure which set of economic statistics to quote.

The risk of becoming a country trapped at a low prosperity level is unfortunately boosted by the fact that while we are fighting hard to consolidate our lower-middle-income status, the advanced nations are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution, transitioning from a post-industrial world to the world of smart technology – and from a production-based economy to a knowledge-based economy.

It is the reason, my brothers and sisters, why I am launching the $10 billion Big Push Initiative.

The $10 billion investment in Infrastructural Development for Economic Transformation will be made over five years to achieve that critical upgrade in social and economic infrastructure, which will create a platform for the transformation of our economy in furtherance of our One Million Jobs Plan.

In a few weeks, I will lay out the details of the Big Push and the One Million Jobs Plan. But, ladies and gentlemen, projects under the Big Push will be executed in all cases by Ghanaian registered companies that pay their taxes in Ghana.

With this $10 billion investment, we will stimulate the economy by sourcing locally available materials and products for the execution of projects.

We will continue and complete all critical ongoing projects, we will dualise our roads- the Sokode to Ho road, Ho to Denu, Tema Roundabout to Ho, Tema to Aflao, complete the Eastern Corridor Road, Accra to Kumasi, Accra to Cape Coast and Takoradi; build new hospitals and other health facilities, complete the remaining 200 Community Day Schools, among others.

This will open up more innovativeness, boost entrepreneurship and create a minimum of one million jobs for our youth. These will be jobs in the public and private sectors.

Ladies and gentlemen, we in the NDC acknowledge that every Ghanaian – you who are sitting here this afternoon, our other professionals, drivers, farmers, market women, labourers and all others – contribute directly or indirectly in the process of development and revenue generation through the payment of taxes.

With that acknowledgement, and the expected impact of COVID-19, the fiscal policy of the NDC in 2021 will ensure that taxes are fair, equitable, and favourable, and public expenditure is aligned to the needs of Ghanaians.

Today, many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are unable to endure the harsh economic conditions. The mismanagement of the economy by the NPP government and the deliberate collapse of businesses, together with the adverse impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, will force many more businesses to lay-off most of their workers and at worse fold up.

Beginning 2021 and into the medium-term, the NDC government will offer several tax reliefs to the private sector, especially SMEs to enable them to recover and get back to their full operating capacities. We will ensure that firms leverage on these tax reliefs to expand their scope of production and employ more Ghanaians.

Within the first three months of 2021, I will lay before Parliament several bills that will seek to grant tax reliefs to SMEs.

Ahead of our manifesto launch, let me lay out some of the incentives we will be giving the business sector, aimed at helping them consolidate, and also provide more job opportunities.

Effective 2021:

§ Small businesses will be exempted completely from corporate income tax.

§ Corporate income tax for medium size companies will be reduced from the current 25% to 15%.

§ Newly established medium-sized companies that employ staff up to twenty (20) will be completely exempt from the payment of corporate income tax for one year.

§ And newly established medium enterprises that employ more than twenty (20) staff will be exempted completely from the payment of corporate income tax for two years. And we will exempt Commercial vehicles, industrial and agricultural machinery from import duties. My government from 2021 will exempt vehicles and all other equipment imported into the country for commercial, industry and agricultural purposes from import duty.

Others issues we will be implementing:

§ Work towards the attainment of a minimum of 30% of all appointments going to women.

§ Increase maternity leave from three to four months.

§ Aggressively tackle and reduce maternal mortality by half from the current 319 per 100,000 live births.

§ Ensure female socio-economic empowerment, enact the Spousal Rights Law, establish exclusive and secured shelters for abused women and children, and provide opportunities for all.

§ Introduce and implement a Free Primary Health Care Plan.

§ Pay, within one year, all who have funds locked up with the collapsed financial institutions.

§ Establish a Financial Services Authority that will be responsible for ensuring that consumer financial markets work for consumers, providers and the economy as a whole.

§ The Financial Services Authority will oversee all financial products and services that are offered to consumers and will effectively and efficiently prevent and stop the challenges that have confronted customers of Menzgold, DKM among others.

§ Restore Ghanaian indigenous investment in the banking and financial sector through a tiered banking structure in order to restore viable credit sources for Ghanaian SMEs.

§ Send back to site all contractors with valid contracts who have been sitting at home for 4 years without being paid for legitimate work done for government.

§ Make immediate arrangements to pay all contractors their hard-earned monies deliberately withheld by the Nana Addo administration due to politics.

§ Reinforce the independence of state institutions such as the Electoral Commission, Auditor General’s Department, EOCO and CHRAJ.

§ Single sourced procurement – sole sourcing – will be an exception not the rule.

§ In pursuance of social justice, I will vigorously push through a constitutional review that creates a fairer and just emoluments system and removes the distortions between Article 71 Officeholders and other public sector employees.

§ Launch “Operation Sting” and be ruthless against all corrupt political appointees and public sector workers.

§ It will be a requirement for all who serve in my Government to publish their assets declaration and have same audited by the Auditor General.

§ Drastically reduce the size of government.

§ Pay Assembly Members to perform the function of collecting accurate births and deaths information in their various electoral areas.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are a few tidbits of what we have for you, come 2021 and it is going to be a Season of Hope. A lot of Ghanaians feel discouraged because they believe that our democratic process has not worked for them.

In 1992 we began the democratic journey based on the 1992 Constitution. We have since had seven elections. Governments have come and gone, and our people believe that our democratic system is not rewarding them adequately for the efforts that they out in.

I say to you, do not despair. Hope is on the horizon. The new NDC administration is going to energise the economic acceleration of this country so that we can create jobs for our young people; so that our investment will be into production rather than consumption.

It is only in that way that we can build a country that works for all of us. It is only in that way that we can create opportunities for all in our country, and not a select few. This is because this country belongs to all of us and not a few people. All of us are citizens of this country and we must enjoy the opportunities that it has to offer.

I assure you; I will be a president for all Ghanaians, not some Ghanaians. And I shall do justice by all manner of people.

I thank you very much and may God richly bless you.