Attempts by former Deputy Minister of Finance, under the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama administration, Cassiel Ato Forson, to run down the government’s decision to tax sport betting companies has been shot down.
In a media interview the post-2021 Budget reading in Parliament last week, Mr Ato Forson decried the government’s decision not to rather cancel sports betting in the country instead of taxing their activities.
But the founder and president of the Concerned Voters’ Movement (CVM), Razak Kojo Opoku, has explained that lotteries and sports betting are all Games of Chance regulated by different Acts enacted by the Parliament of Ghana.
He therefore questioned: “If it is morally reprehensible, then why did the Parliament of Ghana, of which Ato Forson is part, enact Act 721 and Act 722 to regulate sports betting and lotteries respectively?”
“Our everyday transactions, trading and communications are based on words and numbers. Lotteries and sports betting deal with numbers aspect of creation aimed at generating revenue for national development, and for human empowerment financially,” he explained.
He noted that while there is nothing wrong with lotteries and sports betting, there are a lot of foreign companies operating sports betting without payment of taxes to the State as required by law.
“Apart from the required license fees these foreign sports betting companies pay to the Gaming Commission of Ghana, they contribute very insignificantly to the revenue mobilization efforts of the government.
“These foreign sports betting companies repatriate their profits back to their respective countries, causing capital flight which in turn affect the strength and performance of our local currency, the cedi,” he said.
Setting the record straight
Mr Kojo Opoku disclosed that during John Mahama’s administration, with Ato Forson as the Deputy Minister of Finance, a withholding tax of five per cent, the highest ever on lotto wins, was introduced following a re-classification of lotto as an investment activity.”
“Again, John Mahama’s administration, with Ato Forson as the Deputy Minister of Finance, imposed 7.5 per cent tax, the highest ever on the 20 per cent commission paid to the indigenous Ghanaian Lotto Marketing Companies.
“It took Akufo-Addo’s government to abolish the 5per cent withholding tax on lotto wins and 7.5per cent tax on the commission paid to the Lotto Marketing Companies. These taxes, 5per cent and 7.5per cent were abolished in the 2018 ‘Adwuma’ Budget,” he stated.
“It is therefore highly unacceptable and morally reprehensible for Ato Forson, who was part of the very government that imposed 5per cent and 7.5per cent taxes on lottery, to criticize Akufo-Addo’s government for taxing sports betting,” he added.