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Opinions of Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Columnist: Quaye, Rikard

This Cantankerous Cell phone Airtime Tax

Fellow Ghanaians, once again the Kuffuor administration have come up with an ingenious way of fleecing the already over-taxed and tax abused species which has become the Ghanaian. Let us begin with the motives for this unnecessary and devious tax.

The Kuffuor administration has in the last 7 years spent most of the tax payers’ money on financing their ostentatious lifestyle to the detriment of the ordinary Ghanaian.

The reckless abandon with which they spend the nation’s money has led to a situation where they have plunged the country into $7.5 Billion dollars of debt. Since 2000, according to figures from the C.B.A, despite oodles of inflows from the H.I.P.C. initiative and donors among others, the Kuffuor administration has only been able to reduce public debt a marginal $300 million. They have completely squandered all the gains that the sacrifice of Ghanaians made from H.I.P.C and we are now set to re-enter the cycle of using almost all our G.D.P. to finance debt. So what they are doing, is squeezing more taxes out of the proverbial stones that the concept of disposable income has become to Ghanaians.

Whilst they and their apparatchiks and oppresnikis have NEVER paid any of the taxes they impose on us, they continue to tax the people in order to keep up the practice of lining the pockets of their echo bunnies with mountains of cash.

Most people who use cell phones in Ghana simply have no choice. It is a necessary means of communication because land lines are simply unreliable. The cell phone companies whose services have been nothing to write home about are already struggling to put in the needed infrastructure to cover the whole country effectively. Now the government wants to dip into those funds to spend on the needless traveling.

Let us not allow the government to create the impression that we don’t pay taxes on cell phone use. There is a VAT component on every phone card that we buy, so we do pay taxes on cell phone usage, and that is all we want to pay.

The cell phone companies are also very instrumental in sponsoring sporting and cultural events. What the Kuffuor administration is doing is effectively attempting to pick the pockets of all these activities that the MTN’s and Tigo’s of this world sponsor. These costs will invariably be passed on to the long suffering consumer, who will invariably have to keep shelling out more for less.

For those that cannot comprehend the figures, there are an estimated 3 million cell phones in Ghana that are used for an average of 37 minutes a day. For the sake of this discussion let us hope that there will be 0% growth in usage. Then a 1pesewa tax per minute usage simply transforms into and estimated 1,111,000 GHC per day and 405,000,000GHC per annum in anticipated revenue. Money that can be used to improve services, fund the sorts of recreational activities the phone companies fund and money that can be given back to long suffering subscribers in promotions etc.

We have all been witnesses to the obscene amount of money being thrown about the president’s chosen successors, in their attempts to succeed him. If he is not complicit in all that has been going on, has he ever asked these people HOW they got the cash they have been wallowing in?

We have all been witnesses to the needless amounts of public funds that were dissipated for the farce that was Ghana @ 50 and the A.U. conference.

We have all been witnesses to the purchase of $7000 bone china crockery and fleets of expensive luxury cars that are slowly disappearing one after the other from the police depot car park.

We have all been witnesses to the distribution of building contracts to party aficionados like Nortey Omaboe and Dr. Wereko Brobbey to build A.U. villas on land that should NEVER have been appropriated in the first place. These party aficionados get to SELL the houses to their own clients, in a sweetheart deal that makes incredulous listening.

We have all been witnesses to Kwamena Bartels effectively maneuvering and manipulating the system to put his daughter in place to collect monies meant for the growth competent and established businesses that deserve it in the private sector. So callous were these people that they even GAVE some of these funds to CHURCHES as tithes. Now, can anyone tell me of a SINGLE person who would collect $700,000 in loans at those exorbitant interest rates and give chunks of it to churches, if they really had an intention to pay back. What is the difference between what Sheila Bartels and her father Kwamena Bartels did and what Juliet Cotton of Aveyime rice fame did?

I know I speak for most Ghanaians who are not prepared to pay a single pesewa more in taxes, when I say enough. Where are the Mensah Otabils, Rev Palmer Buckles,

Alhaji Osman Nuru Sharabutus, Maulvi Wahab Adams of our society who have spoken out against corruption and graft in the past? What is it that makes them keep quiet whilst the masses smart under a government whose propensity to STEAL from its people can only be bested by the manner in which they do it?

To president Kuffuor, I will say this; Sir, there are 2 ways to decrease public debt. One way is to keep increasing taxes irresponsibly. The other is to decrease government spending. I will humbly like to suggest the latter. Cut down the amounts of state money spent buying luxury cars for your family, friends, government aficionados, hangers on and leeches that are sucking this country dry.

Cut down on the amount of state resources used to fund your 22 vehicle convoys, because experience has shown that it is not the size of your convoy that makes you safe.

Cut down on the trips you make abroad because most of them are jaunts that only benefit you and your entourages, due to the large amounts of emoluments you have been paying yourself. Your vice president is claiming that you have been out of the country a total of 2 years, and since he has been acting as president during your numerous absences, he qualifies to take over when your term ends. I think he makes a very sound argument don’t you?

Lastly and most importantly, you are surrounded by a bevy of very corrupt ministers and public officials. You are not able to institute checks on them because you have lost the moral authority to do so. But it is not too late. Some of them need to be prosecuted, others need to be fired. Grit your teeth and DO IT. Then you won’t need to institute more taxes on us. I could go on and on but need I? I am sure you get the message. And it this simple….. Yentua, efise yabre dodo!!!!



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