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Opinions of Monday, 16 July 2018

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Mahama is a liar, but Akufo-Addo should halt proposed tax hike

Maybe if former President John Dramani Mahama encouraged his younger brother, Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, to studiously and responsibly pay his taxes on time and not criminally attempt to dodge them or deliberately issue dud checks, we would not be having this headache and scratching our heads over the question of whether we need to raise taxes to make ends meet, in terms of efficient governance, that is.

Which is why I feel a bit irritated to hear the former President smugly assert that: “The Ghanaian business sector has never experienced such difficult times in the history of the 4th Republic. Akufo-Addo’s proposed new taxes would further cripple and also defeat his much-touted mantra of ‘from taxation to production’” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/15/18).

It is an obvious half-truth which we hope to answer within the next few paragraphs. Mr. President, by the way, our import taxes are still way too high!

It is an open-secret that the most difficult times experienced by the Ghanaian businessman and businesswoman occurred under the “Dumsor Presidency” of both Presidents Mahama and John Evans Atta-Mills, before the former. He may very well have sincerely forgotten about this fact, largely as a result of the relatively good times ushered in by the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). So somebody needs to remind the Bole-Bamboi native and former Rawlings’ Communications Minister that it was under his chaotic and indescribably corrupt tenure that the regime of erratic power supply, otherwise known as “Dumsor,” entered the global lexicon or dictionary. Thus, if he had any sense of shame or conscience, the last sector of our national economy that he would have presumed to use in criticizing the performance of the Akufo-Addo government ought to have been the business sector.

Maybe somebody ought to remind the former NDC’s Member of Parliament for Gonja-West, in the Northern Region, that it was under his leadership of the country that nearly 60-percent of small- and medium-sized businesses were literally and effectively wiped off the directories of the country’s chambers of businesses.

At the same time, however, it may constitute the height of arrogance and self-deceit for those of us staunch supporters and sympathizers of the Akufo-Addo Administration to blindly disagree with the former President that any attempt to impose additional taxes on goods and services would definitely turn the anger of the people against the Akufo-Addo government, recovery from which may not occur in time for the 2020 general election.

So on the latter count, I perfectly agree with reports indicating that Nana Akufo-Addo is dead-set against any attempt by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, and his team of economic management experts, to impose a 4-percent VAT – or Value-Added Tax – on the people. The time for additional taxation is just not yet. At any rate, regarding the Facebook spat between Mr. Gabriel Asare Otchere-Darko and Dr. Clement Apaak, the NDC’s Member of Parliament for Builsa-South, in the Upper-East Region, about all that I can say is that Dr. Apaak, the former Presidential Staffer or, properly speaking, parasite, cannot be taken seriously when he says that the Akufo-Addo government has indulged in massive borrowing with virtually nothing to show for the same on the ground.

I suppose the former political activist never heard of the Akufo-Addo-initiated fee-free Senior High School System. Neither does the apparently pathologically cynical Dr. Apaak appear to have come to the sobering realization that his former boss and “generous” benefactor effectively bankrupted the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) prior to him being democratically ousted by the conscientious Ghanaian voter in December 2016.

There are still pressing problems to be solved, of course, but it would be inexcusably absurd for anybody who lived through the extremely painful Mahama era to even half-suggest that the kind of abject misery visited on Ghanaian citizens by President Mills’ sometime official right-hand man pales in significance, compared to the relatively auspicious times ushered in by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

But what I really wanted to say at the beginning of this column is that it ought to have been members of the NPP’s Communications Team, and not Mr. Otchere-Darko, who ought to have responded to the patently vacuous and gratuitous tirades of Messrs. Mahama and Apaak. Alas, once again, the Akufo-Addo Communications Team seems to have woefully failed both the President and the ruling party at just the very moment when it ought to have made its presence felt, even as Prof. Kwame Karikari painfully observed not very long ago. The last time that I heard any member of the NPP’s Communications Team say anything publicly, it was over the alleged nonpayment of some perks or bonuses that these scarcely visible NPP operatives were seeking. It did not make any sense to me then or now.

Once again, I earnestly and solemnly take this opportunity to call for the immediate reorganization of whatever goes by the name of the New Patriotic Party’s Communications Team these days, now that a newly elected and inducted administration has been put into place at party headquarters.

*Visit my blog at kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York