“In abundance of the hearts, the mouth speaks.” The residues of this adage caught up with Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo, Mrs Usula Owusu and Hon Samuel Atta Akyea. All three at one point made it clear that, Ghana has landlords, and some people are but tenants. Per this analogy, when the Landlords rule, the tenants are expected to observe and suffer in silence even if things are not going right.
Mr Osafo Marfo unapologetically claimed that, people from non-resource region don’t deserve to rule or lead. He made this comment in attempt to justify why Nana Addo ought to lead and not John Mahama. Whatever his definition of natural resources were, some of us are still lost. On her part, Mrs Ursula Owusu was empathic that “they (ie the landlords) have taken their country from the tenants and they won’t make a mistake for the tenants to ever come back to power”. Hon Atta Akyea in attempt to exalt the Akyem Mafias over everyone else, intimated that, if the Akyems were taken out of Ghana’s history, the country will be left with no history. All three point to the fact that some people in Ghana are first class and deserve to always lord over others.
We all were witnesses when President John Mahama ruled in his 3 and half years. The Aglo for Jesus couched their monthly themes to suggest that what befell the nation was as a result of the person of the ruler then (ie John Mahama). Their monthly prayer wasn’t for the country but for God to install the real ruler of Ghana (ie Nana Addo). In fact, at the time, Mahama was declared the problem and not the system, not any external factors like we are made to believe today and not the behavior of the citizens as it is today.
Today, when the Landlord rules, taxes are a means of mobilizing revenue to develop Ghana, even when the audio-visual of Dr Bawumia in the run up to the 2016 elections suggest differently. Under Mahama, taxes of whatever kind were “nuisance taxes”. Even those they described as such, like the energy sector levy, in power, Akuffo-Addo didn’t only maintain them, but either increased their thresholds and make them permanent levies or used them as special purpose vehicles to go for loans. In all these, the tax experts, the strategic political economists, the solid middle class, the uncompromising academia, are all either silent and nodding in fear or have compromised their principles by subtly supporting these regressive taxes.
In the run up to the 2020 elections, the Akuffo-Addo’s administration were saved by the bell; yes, saved by covid. Covid saved the administration in two way: it first gave them the space to make expensive but untenable excuses, and secondly, created unfettered fiscal space for them to spend money and not to account for same. This is the main reason we have a huge deficit, the most expensive election ever in the history of the 4th Republic, and today, the economy has sunk to the lowest ebb.
Just after the elections and a year on after covid hit Ghana, the 2021 budget was presented with loads of taxes and levies ostensibly meant to recover what was spent to spare economic growth and development. The free water and electricity that were handed a few poor in order to buy their votes and consciences was painfully taken by the introduction of a covid levy in 2021. As we speak, this levy has become a permanent part of our tax system as though covid is a running pandemic and it’s ravages are permanent.
Just when we were getting settled, the 2022 budget was presented with additional taxes and levies. In fact, some discounts that were introduced in 2019, meant to cushion the Ghanaian taxpayer were equally withdrawn amidst opposition. The last killer was the smuggling of the E-levy into the tax regime. This was fast spotted by the NDC minority in Parliament and a strong case made against same.
It should be on record that, but for the NDC minority in Parliament, the Ghanaian public would have been paying E-levy by now. If not because of the stern opposition of the NDC, the public wouldn’t even notice that there was such a levy in the budget, and they wouldn’t be offered the opportunity to listen to the reasons the government has for the introduction of the levy at their haphazardly organized town hall meetings. In fact, the public-opened commitment forced on the Finance Minister and his government came as a result of the fact that the NDC stood its ground in opposition to the E-levy.
In all these, most of the people stood against the NDC minority in Parliament. Instead of supporting the position of the NDC, they decided to either pitch camps with the government so they could get their cuts or they played the strong partisan card as their patrons will have them do. The NDC minority went as far as physically fighting in Parliament at the displeasure of the world, but for a just cause. They were called names; they were condemned by the so called neutrals whose voices resume their loudness only when it is the NDC and John Mahama are at the receiving end.
It is worthy of note, that it took the NDC in Parliament to get the government to extract the E-levy from the 2022 budget in order that they will pass the budget and the appropriation bill, so that governance will not be rudely disrupted. What is more patriotic and sensitive than this? Give this opportunity to the NPP, and they will run governance to a halt without any apology. So, since November, it took the NDC to get the E-levy extracted and made a stand-alone tax policy for consideration.
The NDC in Parliament didn’t hide it’s position about the E-levy. So what is their crime today after standing firm against the levy which has been forced down by Nana Addo and his NPP? How many vigils has the so-called celebrities organized in support of the NDC position? How many demonstrations has the middle class organized to state their opposition and to aid and strengthen the NDC’s position? How many lectures has IMANI or IEA or Occupy Ghana organized to counter the government’s position? They all watched the helpless NDC MPs and swept the lame explanations and the lies from the government and its allies under their armpits.
Surprisingly, the same Ghanaian people watched on while the Akuffo Addo administration swore to use all means to pass the levy. They have used the courts, used the clergy, used “takashi” and all available tactics to cajole NDC MPs to be absent from Parliament to create room for them to smuggle the levy in. In all these, the NDC was fighting a lone battle. Anytime you hear a voice against the levy, it was a solo voice meant to vent individual anger, but won’t ever come supporting the NDC. At the time the minority stood strong, it needed the public support to wade through which never came. Many even accused them of playing a party card and for that matter, they won’t have nothing to do with them.
When the courts were used to short the NDC by one member, everyone watched on. When the courts were used to frustrate Hon Atto Forson, people cheered Akuffo Addo on. In all these narratives, some people deliberately are turning the heat and responsibility on the minority. So, that when the E-levy come biting them, they will blame the NDC and not Akuffo Addo and his NPP for introducing the tax in the first place. Who will pay E-levy to Mahama and the NDC? Between the NDC who stood against the levy since November, 2021 and the NPP who are bent in forcing it on the throats of Ghanaians, who should be held responsible for the hardships the levy will come to compound?
Assuming it were Mahama’s NDC in 2014 or 2015 who wickedly imposed such hardships to the poor even after the Late Amissah Arthur came earlier to argue that MoMo tax will be a disservice to the poor-imagine what this country would have turned into. The headlines from New Crusading Guide, the shrugging of shoulders by Kweku Baako in front of pile of documents on NewsFile; the theme for Aglo Jesus would have been “God save Ghana from the hands of the devil”; the sunday sermons and predictions from Pastor Otabil will become banner headlines of state- owned newspapers; the morning bashing and deliberate spinning from Citi FM and Joy FM and the correlated analysis from the tax experts and political economists will become the oil of the political atmosphere for the NPP. Occupy Ghana would have organized lectures and declare Red Fridays with dirges of Mahama as their daily hymn. Political scientist from the University of Ghana and KNUST would have released research findings to suggest how porous Mahama’s leadership was.
Today, those who gave Dr Bawumia the platform to engage in his deceptive economic lectures are hiding with lofty appointments. As the cedi gets whipped by the dollar and as fuel prices hit the roofs, the same people are trying to soften the discourse by introducing some animal call “external factors”. Meanwhile, in the days of Mahama, same external factors were abound, but these people and institutions named above made everything looked and sounded like Mahama was the devil himself who reincarnated into a President of Ghana.
Today, the country is worse of in terms of everything; talk about public debt and borrowing, talk about prices of goods and services, talk about inflation, talk about exchange rate depreciation, talk about budget deficit, talk about extreme hardships and escalating poverty. All these didn’t happen because of covid nor the one month old Russia-Ukraine war, but as a result of bad economic policies and leadership crisis. In the midst of these, and the fact that we know who caused our problems, some people are still looking for Mahama and the NDC to blame for Akuffo Addo and Dr Bawumia’s mess. If you ever go to the MoMo vendor in May, 2022 and the charges bite you in your pocket, please don’t look for NDC MPs who boycotted the passage of the E-levy, but look for Akuffo Addo and Bawumia, who first and foremost, thought about such a wicked tax policy at this time and glaringly forcing it through our throats even with the genuine opposition from the NDC and some Ghanaians.
Those blaming the NDC, be told that you don’t pay your taxes to Mahama and the NDC so, spare us the hypocrisy and blame your pampered President Akuffo-Addo who flies Private jet at a time his Finance Minister has declared Ghana broke and want to tax us to a chocking end. Mahama is also a human being and a Ghanaian just like Akuffo-Addo.
Ramadan Kareem 🌙
By Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese
(Youth Imam from Laribanga)