Opinion | Feb 20, 2019

Akufo-Addo Had Better Sit Up and Listen to Kennedy Agyapong on Killer Taxes

When he started whining cynically and narcissistically about how unbearably high taxes imposed on individual importers and businesses by the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) were, I did not hesitate to roundly condemn the untenable self-centeredness of the man who was increasingly becoming a burdensome embarrassment to the government. You see, Kennedy Agyapong, his remarkable contribution to the New Patriotic Party and all, especially to the electioneering campaign of the then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is decidedly a citizen with a pathological penchant for entitlement contracts and policies which makes it seem as if his policy preferences are all that there is to his active participation in the affairs of government, especially the electoral fortunes of his party. Mr. Agyapong generally tends to see the apparatus and/or machinery of government as some form of socialist-oriented Santa Claus – or Father Christmas – that ought to provide virtually all the needs of Ghanaian citizens, instead of the government’s being primarily a facilitator or enabler for the people to realize their dreams by working hard to achieve the same themselves.

This time, however, the man on Ground Zero seems to have the pith and essence of logic on his side, particularly when Mr. Agyapong alludes to spare-parts dealers and local mechanics at Kumasi-Suame Magazine and Abossey-Okai, Accra-Central, being utterly disappointed over their perceived short-shrift treatment by the present government (See “I Won’t Campaign for NPP Again – Kennedy Agyapong Declares” MyNewsGh.com / Ghanaweb.com 2/17/19). I am far less concerned here with the fact of whether the hip-shooting NPP’s Member of Parliament for Assin-Central, in the Central Region, is likely or unlikely to go all-out to campaign for the New Patriotic Party in the leadup to the 2020 electioneering campaign season, for the simple reason that the Oman-FM Radio and NET 2 TV station owner knows fully and perfectly well that he simply cannot thrive his businesses as well as he wants to and deserves to under any National Democratic Congress’ government.

So what Mr. Agyapong wisely and constructively needs to be doing and, in fact, ought to have been doing all this while, ought to have been to be using his coveted platform as an outspoken parliamentarian to be pushing and promoting business-friendly economic policies, instead of making a veritable nuisance of himself, for the most part, by recklessly venturing into areas of our national life where he obviously would be better off ceding to his colleagues and the more expert and better-focused think-tank operatives. Still, the foregoing notwithstanding, Mr. Agyapong is smack on point when he carps the Akufo-Addo Administration for seeming to have taken the votes and support of local spare-parts dealers and mechanics for granted. The key NPP operatives and movers-and-shakers of the party ought to be fully aware by now that tax policies are as significant as development policies and strategies, if not even more important, especially come election time. You see, Ghanaian voters, by and large, have longer memories than they are often given credit for. There was even a time when there were what appeared to be serious talks about converting our ports into tax-free ports or nearly so. Whatever happened to this savvy policy discourse?

Of course, the issue of exorbitant taxation does not affect only spare-parts dealers and mechanics; it affects virtually every aspect of our national economy, and the government had better sit up and listen and listen up sedulously and studiously. If the government feels the need to increase the volume of development revenue, by all means, there are definitely innovative and less painful ways of doing so, such as progressively and constructively broadening the taxation catchment area in such a way that it makes great sense to the ordinary citizen in the street. Mr. Agyapong also made mention of the woeful neglect of the needs, interests and aspirations of the Kayaye and Kayanu sector of the economy. I quite remember, as far back as during the 2008 electioneering campaign, when then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to the presumptuous chagrin of the then Atta-Mills’ running-mate, to wit, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, laid out some very progressive policy proposals that he intended to implement for the quality-of-life improvement of these often-neglected group of bona fide Ghanaian citizens. I am certain that the Kayaye and Kayanu problem could be effectively incorporated into the agenda of the Zongo Development Ministry.

In other words, something needs to be done and done fast and palpably so, if the Akufo-Addo-led Administration of the New Patriotic Party is to significantly increase its margin of voters’ approval come December 7, 2020 or thereabouts. There is still time to reconfigure some of these neglected policy promises, however seemingly little time may seem to be left, to make a pocket-felt difference in the lives of our most economically depressed and disadvantaged citizens and residents.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
February 17, 2019
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

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