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Levy Visa Application Of Embassies - Economist Tells Govít   
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A senior research fellow and economist with the Institute of Statistical and Social Research (ISSER), Dr Charles Ackah is challenging government to tax all visa application and processing fees to raise more revenue for the state rather than over taxing business and employees.

Government announced several tax measures including Review of Income Tax and VAT Threshold B and in the 2016 fiscal budget which are expected to shore up its revenue.

However, most businesses and their associations have been complaining about the implications of these taxes on their operations not forgetting the power outage or ‘dumsor’ which is still persisting.

But speaking at a recent business forum organized by ISSER, Dr Ackah said “it is about time to tax visa application fees and processing of all embassies in Ghana since they are making lots of money from the country.”

“Have we thought as a country the revenue we will be making from levying visa application of these embassies? There are more opportunities in terms of tax revenue in this country instead of borrowing all the time.”

“Look at the number of embassies in Ghana and the number of Ghanaians who are seeking to enter the countries of these respective embassies…….they are enormous and therefore we must think of levying the fees,” Dr Ackah observed.

According to him, the amount of interest payments the nation is servicing from the issuance of these bonds or long term instruments are too expensive. Some economists also believe the nation’s current debt-to-GDP ratio could throw the its economy out of gear with the Greece experience still lingering in the minds of Ghanaians.

Dr. Ackah noted that the embassies are making huge revenue from this country and it is high time the nation tax income they make from the visa application and processing fees.

He said there are several means to widen the tax net and make more revenue than always overtaxing businesses and employees which ultimately is passed onto consumers.

There are presently 56 embassies and high commission in Ghana including the US Embassy, the British High Commission, the Chinese Embassy, the Canadian High Commission, the French and Saudi Embassy.

The busiest embassies that process several tens of thousands of visas annually include the US Embassy, the British High Commission and the Chinese Embassy. The rest are the German Embassy, the French Embassy, the South Africa High Commission, the Saudi Arabia High Commission, the Spanish Embassy and the Netherlands Embassy.

The US Embassy for instance process more than 100,000 visa application every year.  It charges 160 dollars for those who are just visiting the United States and charges more than 200 dollars for those attending schools or relocating to the USA.

The British High Commission runs an online visa application system. Applicants pay with either credit card online, or in cash at the submission point.
Source: Daily Heritage

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