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Opinions of Saturday, 19 February 2022

Columnist: Dr. Kwaku A. Danso

The E-Levy: Is it e-fraud?

E-Levy demonstration E-Levy demonstration

Somebody wrote on a big Placard that e-Levy is e-Fraud!

I say No! Taxation is not fraud; but to impose taxes that touch every aspect of all citizens, even the very poor in society, on a daily collection basis and arbitrarily without debate, is a sign of excessive Powers in the hands of too few men. It was power applied in the wrong way!

In some democratic societies, new taxes are voted on by the citizens. Ghana could do the same. We should avoid the autocratic powers that the 1992 Constitution grants the President to tax as he pleases and spend as he pleases. That is dictatorship. It will not work for long in our Ghana.

The uncles and fathers of many of the current NPP founders and executives sang the song that first President Nkrumah was a dictator. Some have even suggested that an example of this was when he had the Courts try some people on charges of treason and put them in prison without pardoning them! They said Nkrumah was wicked because a prominent Lawyer and former colleague JB Danquah was not pardoned and he died in prison.

It hurts when one’s parent are confined to prison. No doubt. While some of us acknowledge what first Premier and President Nkrumah did and stood for, there is some valid criticism that was justified, in hind sight. This was the fact of history that Nkrumah’s party voted to become a ONE- PARTY State and make Kwame Nkrumah President for life.

The best picture I had of Nkrumah was my own sight of him around 1951 as a child in my hometown of Abetifi. The next best one was where Dr. Busia and Dr. Nkrumah were standing with each other in some White suit near the old Parliament House.

That last image of Busia and Nkrumah is a symbol of the kind of mutual respect in competition that build nations today.

The days when Nkrumah was the enemy should be over and we all should put our minds together, NPP and NDC and Independents and the people- and solve problems in public debate and dialogue!

Ghana is broke today because of many reasons:

1. Our political Leaders fell in the trap thinking there is infinite amount of money they could squeeze from the people.
They failed to do the basic Arithmetic: you cannot tax people without jobs and without money to eat; and even rich people, there is only so much tax that is fair to exact!

2. It is better to tax commercial and residential real estate that affect the rich than focus on petty nickels and dime taxation of the poor.

3. There should be a spending limit by even Government- and that is where our education comes in: to balance the revenues against the expenses.

4. Tax and revenue design is not taught in classes. Why? Because it is common sense applied to simple Business or Finance 101 principles.

Complicated formulas can be learnt by using templates and spreadsheets today- it should be elementary for people like Ken Ofori Atta and Dr. Bawumia- they should realize that you cannot squeeze milk out of stones.

When people line up at traffic intersections selling imported dog chains and yam in their arms, it is for survival and desperation to tax such people instead of the owners of the high rises in Accra and other cities!

The last few weeks confusion about this e-levy should be a lesson for our Finance Minister and Vice President.

Please do the hard task of planning our streets and homes and creating a database and stop the joke about digitization of 6x6 pieces of land and talk of leapfrogging others. One needs a database of homes and real properties and not a mere location with digital addresses.

This is how you create a permanent data for

Taxation and not the fancy talk that is good only for this year and will keep changing.

No! I will not call it e-Fraud as somebody did but I think there is a lack of understanding being exhibited by thinking that taxation can be simplified by merely focusing on and taxing moneys we can easily track. No! Taxation must take incomes into consideration and humans‘ needs and capacities to pay.