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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Mahama Government is Anti-Poor

By Alex Bossman Baafi

The ruling NDC government is said to be a social democratic government that put people at the Centre of its policies. I can say with adequate certainty that a careful look at the actions and inactions of Mahama government confirms that it is not people-cantered but rather an anti-poor government.

At the beginning of this year, the PURC increased tariffs of water and electricity. The government also went ahead and increased the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate from 15% to 17.5%. Two weeks within this same month the government increased prices of fuel. Kerosene went up by 19.8%, petrol 6%, diesel 7.8% and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) 8.73%. Just the beginning of the month of March there were further increase in the prices of these petroleum products. Again, PURC has announced a deferred increase in electricity and water tariffs by 12.06% and 6.05% respectively for the second quarter of this year. These increases are due mainly to the government’s inability to tame the fast depreciation of the Cedi, the national currency, in relation to its trading partners in foreign exchange market.

We now have high utility tariffs, high taxes, high cost of credit, high cost of raw materials, high cost of doing business, high cost of living in addition to the declining fortunes of the national currency, the cedi, which had led to huge social cost and therefore severe suffering of the mass majority of our people.

The coming into office of this government has fostered untold economic hardships on the people. Sometimes I wonder why we should brave all odds by queuing under the harsh conditions of the sun for long hours just to vote to choose leaders to make sure they use their minds to work to make life less burdensome for the mass majority of our poor people. Once we give them jobs by voting them into office, give them good pay, resource them by stuffing their big fridges, buy them posh vehicles (V8), provide the air-conditioned accommodation with free water and electricity, they become our lords, and chastise us with whips and scorpions.

Now under President Mahama, there had been continuous jumps in prices of goods and services as a result of excessive taxation. The government is incentive to the plight of the suffering people. Milking the poor to the last atom of their strengths is not people-centered. In the midst of all these is mass unemployment making living conditions for the people hopeless. The unreliable supply of power (Dumsor-Dumsor) is destroying businesses and compounding unemployment situation in our country with no end in sight.

Just before Mahama‘s insensitive government took office, many poor people had the privilege to walk into hospitals to be taken care of without paying cash because of the National Health Insurance Scheme. These same people today have to endure cash and carry in many hospitals. School feeding programs that took care of many poor pupils is in jeopardy because of the government’s inability to provide funding. As we speak, school feeding programs has shrunk in size instead of its expansion. The fate of free maternal care and metro mass transit vehicles, Kuffour Bus that provided a safety net for the mass majority of the people are also whimsically and gradually fading to extinction.

Government is about fighting our enemy of poverty and diseases afflicting the lives of many people of our country. Working hard to lift the poor and the marginalized from the abject poverty trap and improving upon the living conditions of our people is people-centered. It could be advanced through using tax policies to redistribute income in favor of the poor. Promoting public safety, employment, welfare programs and provision of public transportation infrastructure for the benefit of the masses. These among others are the expectations of the poor masses and not anything extraordinary.

The abuse of power, greed, misappropriation, and mismanagement of tax, revenues as well as graft, rot, insanitary conditions widespread corruption and mysterious killings in our country today point to the fact that Mahama-led government is anti-poor.