Ghana: Parliament Passes Fees and Charges Bill to Review Upwards Public Fees

Parliament has passed the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2022, to regularise the fees being charged by public service institutions.

When assented to by the president, the new Act would review existing fees, impose new ones and provide for an annual adjustment of fees and charges levied by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

To be done in line with prevailing economic conditions in the country, the bill which was passed at sitting of Parliament in Accra yesterday would establish a single schedule of all fees and charges for the delivery of goods and services rendered by the MDAs to the public.

The new legislation formed part of the revenue measures outlined in the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of government for the 2022 financial year ending December 31.

It replaces the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2018 (Act 983) which transferred the authority to determine fees and charges under an enactment to the Minister of Finance.

The amended Act which adjusts fees and charges up by at least 15 per cent is expected to raise revenue to meet targets in the 2022 budget.

The new bill is also to ensure a regular review of the fees and charges levied by MDAs, avoid steep increases arising from long periods without review, bridge the growing gap between the cost-of-service delivery and approved fees and simplify the process for review of fees and charges to a single submission to Parliament as part of the annual budget.

The Finance Committee’s report signed by its chairman, KwakuKwarteng, said it noted during its deliberations that a number of government agencies and institutions responsible for the collection of non-tax revenues on behalf of the government failed to lodge revenues collected in gross contravention of Section 46 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).

According to the report, many of the subvented agencies either retained part or pay the entire revenues collected directly into their operational accounts from which disbursements were made.

“Again, some institutions also collect revenues on the table or over the counter after which it is lodged into their operational accounts and disbursed directly in contravention of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016.

“The committee noted with concern that the practice does not give the Minister of Finance a complete or comprehensive view of the total revenue generated by all state agencies in each fiscal year,” MrKwakuKwarteng, MP, Obuasi West, told the plenary when he moved the motion for the third reading; the final legislative leg.

This practice, the report said, could expose public funds to abuse and embezzlement by collecting officers.

“The committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry of Finance should take immediate steps to ensure that all institutions captured in the Second Schedule of the bill collect their revenues through a designated commercial bank or through the Ghana.gov platform from which the funds collected are transferred in gross into the respective holding accounts at Bank of Ghana,” the report said.

Presenting the budget statement in November last year, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta urged the House to “review Fees and Charges with an average increase of at least 15 percent in 2022 and thereafter subject it to automatic annual adjustments by average inflation rate as published by the Ghana Statistical Service, but with the prior consent of the Minister for Finance”.

It was expected to take effect on January 1, 2022 but work on the bill could not finished on time following the controversy which characterised the passage of the controversial Electronic Transfer Levy Bill.

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