Business in Ghana

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Between Taxes and Harmattan. Critical News, 3rd January 2016

Posted by Business in Ghana on January 4, 2016

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

I am particularly miffed with JDM already. It was bad enough he did not allow me the single privilege of turning down his offer of a medal of sorts because I wrote fifty-one articles. Every week I wrote something and advised copiously on many matters.

I think I was even instrumental in giving him an opportunity to ask for Kwabena Donkor’s resignation after Occupy Ghana lifted the stakes beyond rhetoric. And even though we did not see Dzifa Attivor’s speedy ducking out of cabinet, we had a few words for him on that.

And we did say a lot about the Auditor General, who we will be taking on big time this year. That office still cannot see how it should exercise all its constitutional powers and cut the theft of state funds by at least 90%. We will advise him soon.

So why am I miffed? The man did not even wish me a Happy New Year. After all we went through together, after all the insults and name-calling, after all the accusations and bellicose advice I poured on radio, TV and in print, JDM did not see that I did something in the year.

So I am going to visit him and have a conversation. If agrees that I can record, I will share with the peeps of Ghana. This is my New Year resolution. I tried a few times last year, but even my cousin the Veep could not find me a slot for a conversation about our relationship. I disown him.

But what has got my goat this week, not the ones I slaughtered over the holiday, which are now dead and freezing well because I have had power for fourteen days, are the ridiculous taxes that have been imposed.

When the price of gold and cocoa drops on the world market, we make big cry cry about how revenue is depressed and look to donors for support. When we benefit from the lower priced crude on the market, we hide behind the skirts of legislation and pretend it has no benefit to us and the suckers at Bretton Woods just lap it up like fresh palm wine in Aburi.

Didn’t Terkper know he was going to slap additional taxes on Petroleum products when he read the budget a month earlier? If he didn’t know then his budget is flawed. If he knew but did not disclose it, his intentions were evil. Or he chose not to disclose it because he is more concerned for his political hegemony than for the people of this country?

This is a democracy. At least we are pretending that it is so for now, until we figure out what we want to be.

Increasingly I am hearing friends talking about the benevolent strong arm types like Lee Kwan Yew and Kagame because they have achieved much success and I am worried that we will end up with another One Party state like Nkrumah took us down and I am insistently concerned that with all the majority democratic nations in the world, we look for the minor aberrations and believe this is where we should be.

So what will make Seth Terkper and his team of economic advisors look away from the end benefits to Ghanaians and put in place harsh policies that will end up impoverishing us all, both rich and poor?

It is no secret that the NDC has not a shred of care for the middle class in the country and given a choice would probably line us all in the market center and cane like in their good old PNDC days.

This year Jerry celebrated 31st December with a handful of supporters. I thought it was illegal but I could have missed something.

So I wonder, who is it in the cabinet who will read this piece of legislation and sign off? Who in that finance committee thought it was ok for them to go through the changes and recommendations and bring it to the floor in such a hurry?

You always know when politicians have evil intentions when passing a bill. It is rushed when everyone has turned away and will not pay attention and use the majority numbers to sway the floor.

The taxes on fuel etc. are very intentionally callous and heartless. It hurts the poorer in society and does very minimal damage to middle income earners.

The NDC has lost its philosophical direction. Seth Terkper is not ideologically a Social Democrat, neither is John Mahama nor Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur. If I am wrong, they can take some time and explain to the people of this country what form of social democracy implements a fuel hike as well as jump in utility tariffs and then expect transport prices not to go up, with its follow on food prices and subsequent inflation.

And in all this I blame the IMF and the World Bank. They don’t have a clue what they are doing here. Next thing you will hear, they will be supporting the next LEAP project because of a rise in the incidence of poverty.

A Facebook friend needs to be heard on this; This is how he interprets the recent Tax ACT.

Mohammed wrote: “HIKE IN PETROLEUM PRICES ILLEGAL… Sometimes, one only sits on his couch and bites one’s fingers, hoping that some powerful people in this country will reason with you and ensure our country is ran, at least lawfully. Ghana is not a banana republic. In the not too distant past, a law was passed named DEREGULATION POLICY. The deregulation policy sought to create a free petroleum market. If you like, it was to ensure that government does not intervene in determining petroleum prices; allowing the forces of demand and supply to fix the prices. Currently, the prices of crude oil in the international market continues to drop since the Arabians in OPEC remain obstinate about limiting production. Fortunately, the Ghanaian currency has not dropped further, at least not to my knowledge. Hence, all other things being equal, the prices of crude oil-related products should fall commensurately. This is in accordance to the deregulation policy and basic economics of demand and supply. Today, almost 30% tax is levied on crude oil products by government to raise more funds for roads and highways, as explained by Hon. Kwame Agbodza (MP forAdaklu) on TV3’s New Day today. This amounts to government interfering in the price determination of crude oil products; unlawful. This is in contravention with the DEREGULATION POLICY tabled and passed by this same government. By this, the government loses credibility and integrity. We cannot trust the NDC to deliver on their very promises. It is not surprising as it adds up to a litany of promise-and-fail by the NDC administration. We know for a fact that the so-called over GHS1 billion needed by Roads and Highways to maintain our road system could be raised elsewhere. Corruption. It’s all about priorities. Slapping the tax on petroleum has an overall effect on our already ailing economy, ranging from fares to goods and services. My name is Mohammed A. Razak Wumpini and #IAmForChange2016. I want a better future for the Ghanaian youth.”

This further tax is not about anything but the need to find enough money to pay for the AMERI turbines, the KARPOWER ship and other capacity charges, which have been committed to without much thought of its impact on our future.

You see, dumsor has to be fixed to give the NDC a survival line in the elections. If they can provide supply continuously in the run up to the election, it will be a small sliver of hope.

As for the economy they can’t touch it with a canoe paddle. It is long gone, out of their hands and these new taxes will make the matter worse.

A young friend on my Facebook page.

We do not appear angry enough against the maladministration and our irritating docility is badly being exploited by this insensitive and incompetent JM NDC-led govt. Price to pay for nonchalant attitude”.

But he forgets, the last time we protested for our rights, we paid the sacrificial price of an eyeball. Will anybody march again? Welcome Harmattan 2016 with cracked lips and an influenza epidemic.

In the better days, there would have been mass spraying and widespread injections. Lick you lips and find some “nku”, this Government is still too broke to do anything except brand buses.

Ghana, Aha a yε din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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