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General News of Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Source: Daily Guide Network

Mahama is anti-poor - NPP

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Minority in Parliament has reminded President John Mahama of his famous contribution on the floor of Parliament during the introduction of the Communication Service Tax on March 12, 2008 where he portrayed himself as an apostle for the cause of the ordinary Ghanaian, but has now turned his back on them by imposing huge taxes on goods and services mostly patronised by the poor.

“Mr Speaker, what government continues to do, day-in and day-out is to take the easy way out of raising revenue. We are taking 25 per cent corporate tax from them. They are paying additional 15 per cent for VAT and NHIS, now we are going to add eight per cent of the cost of airtime usage. This is abnormal taxation. Mr Speaker, this tax is going to roll back the progress we have made in terms of the very rapid internet penetration. Mr Speaker, with the addition of this tax on airtime in Africa, we are going to join the groups of countries that have the highest tax on air time in Africa and that lumps us with countries like Zimbabwe. If we add eight per cent to the current 15 per cent that we have, it will take us to 23 per cent, and we would even overtake Zimbabwe which has 22 per cent. Zambia has 25 per cent, so we are going to enter that category. Mr Speaker, to conclude, the Bill says monies to be collected would be paid into the Consolidated Fund. I do not feel confident if these monies must be lodged in the Consolidated Fund”.

This was what President Mahama said in a debate on the Communication Service Tax introduced by the NPP government when he was the MP for Bole/Bamboi.

These were made known at a press conference by the NPP yesterday at the International Press Centre in a series of press conferences to propose alternative ways to help solve the country’s mounting problems.

The NPP said the new Communication Service Tax (Amended) Bill, which has expanded tax in the communication industry to affect the poor user, the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill that seeks to impose import duties on telephone handsets and other communication devices, the National Fiscal Stabilisation Levy Bill that seeks to impose fresh taxes on many businesses, Customs and Excise Duties Bill that seeks to impose fresh taxes and import duties on plastic, plastic products, satellite phones, among others, and the Special Import Levy Bill that seeks to impose duties on outboard motors, condoms, cutlasses, fishing nets, bathroom slippers (charley-wotey), lanterns, wellington boots, washing soaps and cooking utensils, would ‘choke’ the ordinary Ghanaian to death and cripple industries.

“These taxes will bring nothing but more distress to businesses and the general public. The taxes will hurt the ‘koko’ and ‘koose’ seller, they will hurt the shoe shine boy, they will hurt the tomato seller, they will hurt the trotro driver, they will hurt the teacher and the nurse, they will hurt the lawyer and the accountant, they will hurt the farmer and the fisherman, they will hurt big businesses and company owners, among others,” said Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, the Minority spokesperson on Trade and Industries, who read the statement.

According to him, the taxes will bring further hardships to the people of Ghana, increase the cost of living and bring more poverty.

He said that there had been more taxes imposed such as the Airport taxes of over 25 per cent for both international and domestic travels, taxes on hiring vehicles and taxes imposed on hotels and restaurants, which are seriously affecting the tourism industry, the third biggest foreign exchange earner for the country.

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said the United States and other European countries were using stimulus packages, which gave cheap credits to their businesses rather than taxing them and wondered the real motive of the Mahama government to impose these ‘unbearable’ taxes on the poor people of the country to worsen their economic situations.

He said these myopic or voodoo economic policies coupled with erratic power and water supply were making companies to either fold up or push their cost of production up astronomically.

He said the unemployment situation in the country is ‘frightening’, yet the government is still clueless in addressing the problems facing Ghanaians.

He said the Association of Ghana Industries had come out to say that poor electricity supply was hurting businesses badly.

“Barbers cannot do business, mechanic and welders cannot do business, bakers cannot do business, and iced-kenkey sellers cannot do business,” he indicated.

The Wenchi MP said the NPP was not surprised that the government had come out publicly to say that it was freezing construction of new roads because it owed contractors a huge sum of money.

He said the government was hugely indebted to many service providers and instead of retrieving the huge money doled out to Alfred Agbesi Woyome, Construction Pioneers, Waterville and Isofoton as ordered by the Supreme Court, it was sitting aloof for things to get out of hand.

“In 2012 alone, the amount of arrears owed by the NDC government amounted to GH¢4.1billion,” he said, adding that it was very embarrassing and unprecedented.

“The government must show seriousness and commitment in retrieving all dubious payments including the GH¢51.2million to NDC financier, Alfred Woyome; €94million paid to Construction Pioneers and the €25million paid to Waterville.”

Prof. Gyan-Baffour said the way forward in salvaging the economy lay in the private sector-led industrialisation.

“The Mahama administration must acknowledge this truism that the private sector is the engine of growth,” Prof. Gyan-Baffour said, stressing that beyond that, the government must propose to transform the economy from the current one that relies on raw materials to one that adds value to raw materials and processes commodities to semi-finished or finished products for exports and for substitution of some of the country’s imports.

At the press conference were some members of the Minority including the leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and some top members of the party including the National First Vice Chairman Fred Oware and former Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo.

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