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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Columnist: George Opare Addo

Open letter to the Ghanaian youth as NDC youth wing rejects Budget

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag The National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag

Times are really hard, especially for the Youth; there is no better way to put it. The 2022 budget presented by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta earlier this week failed to address some of the existential threats facing young people and our determination to rise up from poverty through hard work and enterprise.

Like many of you, we are alarmed and disappointed that such a heartless budget will be presented by the New Patriotic Party government, after all preparing a budget is one of the most basic responsibilities of any government.

But it appears no innovative and critical thinking went into the preparation of this budget, thus falling short of addressing our needs as a people. More importantly, for the Youth of Ghana, this budget was far from our reality, our hopes, and our aspirations.

Reading the entire document, one cannot ignore the singular theme that reflects in those hurriedly written lines; the hardheaded and irresponsible posture to the plight of the Ghanaian people. It is not surprising how Ghanaians have responded to the thoughtless budget presented for the 2022 fiscal year, and rightly so because the scourge of this budget will be borne by the people.

Everywhere, when budgets are presented, it inspires hope amongst the masses, as it offers the government’s thoughtful and considerate blueprint to alleviate the suffering of the people and improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the masses. What our finance minister presented is far from that and a direct ‘insult’ to the Ghanaian people especially our industrious young people.

To our young people, you are right to be disappointed in the budget presented for the FY2022 as it does not include a comprehensive plan to create jobs for the many young people out of school without jobs, vocational or professional skills in this hardened economy.

In the absence of creating jobs and equipping you with the right skills to be employable, this administration must not look to further burden you with more inconsiderate policies that will make life more unbearable for us. Government has no justification whatsoever for the position it has taken.

We empathize with you and oppose vehemently these new taxes and increases in some levies as well government fees. We recognize that the Majority of entrepreneurs who rely on electronic payments to run their businesses are young people and this draconian tax will adversely affect you. Thus the proposed 1.75% levy on electronic payments will be counterproductive.

We are sorry that this government, under the guise of widening the tax bracket is oblivious to our plight as young people and has resorted to taxing every service that makes our lives easier. Rest assured that we stand with you on this, we will oppose this!

While this government has failed you, we ask that you do not give up especially on your dreams even in these hard times. We have requested through Leadership that the Minority Group in Parliament works to reject the budget in its current form. Every NDC MP will be committed to this course earnestly. Any other outcome will be ab inconvenienti.

In the spirit of camaraderie, we will also be presenting a petition to parliament on why the Youth of Ghana is against the 2022 budget. It is our firm belief that everyone, on both sides of the House, must work together to reject this budget as it is antagonistic to the Youth of Ghana.

There is the need to increase the government’s revenue but it is a lame approach to tax almost every service and product that is used by young people to achieve that. Government must find a way to patch up the revenue loopholes and come up with an innovative way of effectively collecting taxes. It is their responsibility to implement the right stop-gap measures and comprehensive plan to generate more revenue rather than resort to a tax-driven agenda to exploit our already drained pockets.

While we wait and observe what will be the Legislature’s position on this budget, the government must focus on efficiently generating revenue by considering innovative schemes to ensure tax is collected effectively and accounted for, while creating jobs and opportunities for young people.

As young people, it is imperative that our capacity and human potential are developed and harnessed properly; the government must be held accountable if it cannot do this simple thing. What we want as young people is a government that is considerate of our plights and will work hard to ensure our lives are better and not the opposite as we see with this insensitive government.

To all young people, we encourage you to summon your political courage and add your voice to this advocacy.

This budget is dangerous to our progress and detrimental to our hopes and aspirations.

Arise Ghana Youth, Your Nation Demands Devotion Now!