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Open Letter To The Minority Leader Of Parliament On Some Thorny Issues In The 2022 Budget Of The Government Of The Day

By Major Mohammed Bogobiri (Rtd)
Letter Open Letter To The Minority Leader Of Parliament On Some Thorny Issues In The 2022 Budget Of The Government Of The Day
NOV 22, 2021 LISTEN

Dear Hon Minority Leader,

Firstly of all, let me digress by using this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences to the family of the Late Captain Kojo Tsikata(rtd) and the Members of the NDC party therefore to yourself and others for the sudden passed away of this great man.

The Late Captain Kojo Tsikata (rtd) was a very simple and likable person. I came very close to this great man when I was then a very young Lieutenant with a detachment of the defunct Ghana Armed Forces Farms in the location of 3 Garrison or 3rd Infantry Battalion Sunyani and I was made to participate in a Field Exercise of the National Security code named OPERATION WARLORD in the Afram plains. This was during the era of the PNDC, when I was then a Platoon Commander with an area of responsibility in the Field Exercise, when all of a sudden I saw a man in a Military Uniform (Overall) with no ranks on the shoulders of his shirt or rank of a Warrant Officer on his right hand, walked alone and passed my location without paying compliment to (saluting) an Army Officer (a Lieutenant), so I shouted who is this Bob no rank. Luckily for me, the then 2IC of 3Bn, Sunyani (then Major Joseph Adinkrah, who later became the Army Commander from March 2009 to April 2013) also suddenly appeared at my location and quickly corrected me by indicating that, the person who passed me was Captain Kojo Tsikata (rtd), then the Head of National Security of PNDC fame. So I braced up and shouted Good Afternoon Sir, and he walked away with a smile. May his Soul rest in Perfect Peace.

Hon Minority Leader, as a constructive citizen and not a spectator as urged by His Excellency President Nana Addo, I wish to urge you to get the Executive Arm of Government or Parliament to have a second look at some three thorny policies of the 2022 Budget.

Hon Minority Leader, the proposed 15% increment in Government services will cause hardship to the Citizenry because of the serious debilitating effects on the finances of the citizenry when making payments for Government services, because wages may not be increase beyond 7%. This should be reduced to 5% since as stated increment in salaries in 2022 may be around 7%.

Hon Minority Leader, the proposed 1.75% electronic levy (e-levy) in the 2022 Budget will cause hardship to the Citizenry because it is a regressive tax with effects on lower income earners etc. It may cause the taxing of the same amount or same person within the electronic transaction or cashless platform as two examples would demo the hardship (debilitating effects on the finances) to the Citizenry. For instance when the e-levy of 1.75% is operationalized in 2022 and a koko seller at Edwinase near Agric Kwadaso in Kumasi, is to pay GHC600.0 as the medical bills for the son at Kejetia to receive the exact amount of GHC600.00 at Kejetia, she will be required to top up with GHC6.00 against MOMO transaction fees on the MTN platform and with the 1.75% e-levy, her initial transfer of GHC600.00 for a day will require her to look for an additional GHC8.50 (1.75% on GHC500.00) to top up the amount for her to send the money to the son to retain the value as GHC600.00. Hence, the total cost to her on the e-transaction platform in 2022 if the 1.75% e-levy is approved by Parliament will be GHC14.50. Hence a careful study of the issues tells likely serious debilitating effects on her finances. So it will better or wiser for her to close her koko business and go to Kejetia by trotro and hand over the money to the son which will cost her a mere total sum of GHC4.40 and safe GHC10.10 for the meals for the day for her family whose total revenue per month is less than GH300.00. Hence, the citizenry movement back to the cashless may be the order of the day. Hence, the levy should be reduced to 0.5% so that the impact on the individual finances especially the poor man or koko seller may not be too high and may bring about safety, insecurity and counterproductive issues with her movement to Kejetia.

Hon Minority Leader, Sir, I also want you to study this scenario in which my son at Central University needs GHC5,000.00 to pay his hostel fees/academic fees and for his upkeep. If the 1.75% e-levy is accepted by Parliament, then I the sender or originator must top up the amount with more than GHC135.00 to meet the transaction or service charges of GHC50.00 by MTN plus GHC85.00 against the 1.75% e-levy so that GHC5,000.00 will be in his wallet or he can withdraw the same amount from a Merchant. Now, if my son is also required to send the GHC5,000.00 to a MOMO account or do payment by e-transaction platform, he will also be required to pay a total sum of GHC135.00 as total e-transaction charges to meet the GHC50.00 as the transaction or service charges by MTN plus GHC85.00 as the 1.75% e-levy payable by the sender or originator. Hence, as a start, the e-levy should be reduced to 0.5% so that the impact on the individual finances especially the poor man or koko seller may not be too high.

Hon Minority Leader lastly, I wish you and your colleagues in Parliament should get the Executive arm of Government to have a second look on matters pertaining to road tolls or the proposal for the abolishing of the Toll booths or rather the illegal abolishing of the road tolls on some Highways and Bridges. Please let me also add my voice that, the Hon Roads Minister for that matter the Executive arm of Government acted both illegally and unconstitutionally because it is only Parliament and District Assemblies which the 1992 Constitution has granted powers to enact and repeal laws and bye-laws respectively.

Hon Minority Leader as you are fully aware, the 1992 Constitution provides means by which any matter of emergency can be treated under certificate of emergency. So the act by the Road Minister without applying the appropriate means for abolishing the road toll may be said to be a Coup against the 1992 Constitution.

This unconstitutional or illegal act must not be accepted by the President and yourself, who have sworn to uphold, defend and protect the 1992 Constitution at all times. So Parliament must reverse this illegal act because, besides causing financial loss to the State (since the roll tolls were or are still regarded as dedicated source of revenue in the 2021 Budget as read by the Hon Majority Leader, on behalf of the Finance Minister), the Hon Road Minister for that matter the Executive arm of Government failed to appreciate that Parliament is an independent arm of Government therefore could throw away the 2022 budget into the dustbin thus shutting down Government as happened in 1981 during the Liman Administration, which among others contributed to the1981 Coup. So, the Hon Road Minister should have waited for Parliament to repeal the law after the approval of the 2022 budget.

Hon Minority Leader, there are two types of Road tolling namely Manual toll roads system at toll booths. This have both disadvantages and advantages especially in Ghana. The disadvantages among others are slow movement or congestion of vehicular traffic with the associated time wasting, waste of fuel, high level of pollution etc. The advantages include reasonable revenue to the state for road maintenance etc, provision of direct and indirect employment to both the employees and traders at the toll booths, may help in the checking of kidnapping, check or prevent banditry activities especially armed robbery etc.

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The other form of road tolling is the electronic collection system which uses different sophisticated equipment for reading or accepting pre-arranged payment or payment at the area (at a provided point for payment) with the exact amount or payment through deduction from a registered account or later payment by notification to the registered user or owner of the vehicle to effect payment within an agreed period say within a week otherwise the institution of appropriate measures to collect the levy. Hence, in the era of Dr Bawumia’s Digitalization Agenda, the reasons given by the road minister to abolish the road tolls may not be acceptable since the associated problems could be addressed by use of the electronic toll collection system, using Dr Bawumia’s Digitalization program with a Digitization system otherwise an improved manual system with additional personnel to be explained later to reduce the burden at the manual toll booths.

Hon Minority Leader, as stated we are in the era of my man or our brother Dr Bawumia’s Digitalization Agenda, hence as stated above the slow traffic flow could be addressed by automation otherwise manned manually as explained below, thus providing employment to meet the National security concerns on unemployment or need for employment for the citizenry. So with these two solutions in mind, it is envisaged that the Executive did so as a ploy to get the citizenry especially drivers and commuters using some of the affected roads to buy the idea of the proposed 1.75% electronic levy with the hope of raising about GHC8 Billion per year for the road infrastructure and others as this paper may reveal later.

Mr Hon Minority Leader, the Hon Finance Minister indicated that in 2016 the MOMO platform or the electronic money transaction yielded about GHC80million and GHC500 billion in 2020. Hence, this is the real motivation for the proposal for the abolishing of the road tolls so that the public may buy the replacement of the road toll as dedicated source of revenue with a share of revenue from the proposed 1.75% electronic levy, with the hope that GHC8billion could be raised yearly from the e-levy for the government to pursue the laudable road infrastructure agenda.

The Executive arm of Government failed to acknowledge why economist normally say all things being equal when making a very important policy. They need to be told that the situation in 2016 (with no MOMO interoperability) is not the same as the situation in 2020 with credible MOMO interoperability as achieved by His Excellency Dr Bawumia. Hence, it may be possible that the alleged GHC500billion in 2020 may be equal to or the same GHC80billion which moved several times within the MOMO platform. So the value may be the same in both years (2016 and 2020). So the notion that the electronic money transaction may record an alleged GHC500billion yearly for the State to get about GHC8billion yearly from the e-levy for road infrastructure and others may not be so. Otherwise, the State may be taxing the same money several times and could lead to public outcry or loss in confidence in the MOMO system or the electronic money transaction thus hindering the cashless system being introduced.

Mr Hon Minority Leader, the Executive arm of Government should credit the citizenry with some level of intelligence by noting that both the sender and recipient will be taxed when the e-levy is introduced in an expected cashless country or on payments by e-transaction platform.

So, Mr Hon Minority Leader, it should be clear to even a JSS pupil that I the originator or the sender must ensure the money to be sent to my son in the chain of e-transactions platform who will later become the originator or sender on a cashless system or e-transactions platform is enough to meet this envisaged day light robbery by the state. To drive my point home, I wish to educate the affected State Officials that in a cashless society which Ghana is aiming at, if the 1.75% levy is approved and I am to send GHC600.00 to my son, I will pay a total sum of GHC14.50

as e-transaction charges to meet MTN charges of GHC6.00 plus GHC8.50 as the 1.75% e-levy.

Mr Hon Minority Leader, we need a very critical thinking Government and not a listening Government or both a critical thinking and a listening Government. So the State or the Government should be very careful not to cause insecurity in the Country, hence I recommend we should start with 0.5% e-levy and the threshold for imposing the levy should be raised from the proposed GHC100.00 per day to GHC500.00 per day or GHC15,000.00 per month. Hmmm, this may also defeat the proposal since I can use two days to send GHC1,000.00 in order to dodge the 1.75% e-levy. So we need to do critical thinking on the matter or we better experiment by reducing it to 0.5% to see the effects.

Mr Hon Minority Leader, I can confidentially say, that the proposed abolishing of the road tolls or levies which was illegally repealed or abolished with a rush without proper consideration as revealed by the two different recent mails to the Public from the Roads Ministry, immediately after the presentation of the budget without approval of Parliament was a ploy by the Executive arm of Government through the Hon Road Minister to get some section of the public to buy the idea of the 1.75% e-levy.

I am saying this, because according to the Hon Finance Minister, about 80 million Ghana Cedis was realized as the sum of the road tolls in previous years and due to some associated risks, he is proposing for the abolishing of the road toll and exploit a smart way by the 1.75% e-levy for raising huge revenue for the road infrastructure and others. This has once again demonstrated the failure of state official to think outside the box by doing proper risk assessment and come out with control measures which among others could either be the use of efficient electronic toll collection system to ensure quick flow of traffic or based on the Ghanaian unique attitude, the State should consider the usage of strong and dedicated private security services providers to deal with the associated hazards thereby creating additional employment for the unemployed youth to meet the National Security concern on unemployment.

Mr Hon Minority Leader, the Government has a responsibility to ensure sanity, security and safety in the Country and these among others will require the provision of jobs through enabling environment. Mr Hon Minority Leader, we are told that about 40 Toll booths are manned nationwide on some Highways and at some Bridges in Ghana. But due to some alleged hazards including slow flow of traffic, sanitation and safety concerns, the Government of the Day is proposing to Parliament to abolish the Road tolls. I wish to recommend that the road tolls should be maintained with an improved system to reduce the associated risk so that we have a budget line for the GHC80million as Highway/Bridges or Road Maintenance Fund to be used mainly for the maintenance of the affected roads and bridges because the bad nature (potholes etc) of the Highways and Bridges maybe one of the contributing factors to the slow traffic movement.

Mr Hon Minority Leader, I wish to reiterate that a risk assessment would have informed the affected State or Government Officials that the State or Government could improve on the situation by automation or electronic collection system or the use of private security service providers. Thus creating employment for the youth which will also raise revenue in the form of VAT, PAYE, and SSNIT Contributions to the State. It should be noted that since Ghana has adopted the VAT system or tax on the consumption of goods and services that is tax on ‘VATBLE’ goods and services, the Government should not be worry because, some additional revenue is raised from the affected personnel to be used to deal with the associated risks. That is to say the government must acknowledge that beside the employment, over GHC80milion is generated directly and indirectly from the Road levy stations.

Mr Hon Minority Leader, it is envisaged that the area of each toll booth may require five strong and dedicated day shift security guards and four night shift security guards and one reliever making ten (10) security personnel. The personnel must have zero tolerance for the said hazards, that to say they should be in the make of the late ex-WO Salifu Amankwa of Kwame Nkrumah Circle fame at each of the manual road levy stations. Hence, the 40 booths or road levy stations may need 10 security personnel x 40 booths = 400 security personnel. Based on the scope of work and the locations with the associated risks and the current economic conditions, it is recommended that the Private Security service provider(s) to be engaged as proposed may need about GHC1,500.00 per guard per month less VAT. So that he can give a monthly take home pay of say not less than GHC800.00 to each guard.

Mr Hon Minority Leader, about GHC8.6million as computed below representing a little over 10% of the about the alleged yearly GHC80million usually generated at the road/bridges levy stations is envisaged as the amount which may be required to meet the cost of the private security services provider at the affected toll booths nationwide.

COMPUTATION OF COST of GHC1,500.00 PER MONTH WITH STATUTORY LEVIES (VAT GETFUND, NHIL, COVID-19 LEVY)
SRL DETAILS PROPOSED MONTHLY PAYMENT FOR ONE GUARD GHC EXTENDED MONTHLY PAYMENT FOR 400 PERSONNEL GHC EXTENDED YEALY PAYMENT FOR 400 PERSONNEL GHC REMARKS
Proposed monthly amount per guard due to Lexbena Security less the taxes 1,500.00 600,00.00 7,200,000.00 Payment without VAT
GETFUND LEVY of 2.5% of a 37.50 15,000.00 180,000.00
NHIL of 2.5% of a 37.50 15,000.00 180,000.00
COVID19-LEVY of 1 % of a 15.00 6,000.00 72,000.00
To compute VAT Add - a +b+c+d 1,590.00 636,000.00 7,632,000.00
VAT – 12.5% of e 198.75 79,500.00 954,000.00
Total payable for One guard with statutory levies - e+f 1,788.75 715,500.00 8,586,000.00 Payment with VAT

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