15.05.2022 Feature Article

Presby Moderator Is Both Right and Wrong on Taxation in Ghana

Presby Moderator Is Both Right and Wrong on Taxation in Ghana
15.05.2022 LISTEN

He is perfectly right to observe that Ghanaians, on the whole, make too many demands of their governments but either deliberately or deviously refuse to honestly and maturely accept the fact that they do not contribute adequately towards the funding resource base upon which the Government-of-the-Day is able to provide the necessary services and assistance to the people (See “ ‘We Don’t Pay Enough Taxes in Ghana Like Europe, They’re Too Little to See Impact; So E-Levy Is Nothing’ – Presby Moderator” 4/29/22).

Equally significantly, however, is that the Rt.-Rev. Joseph Obiri-Yeboah Mante egregiously overlooks the fact that the political culture of most of the European countries that the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana refers to is far more accountable and fiscally and socially responsible than what prevails in former European colonies like our very own dear beloved Ghana. Prof. Mante is roughly about the same age as yours truly, so he may do himself and the rest of us, his congregants, much instructive good by revisiting the evergreen contents of the famous “Dawn Broadcast” of April 8, 1961, that was masterfully delivered by the immortalized and legendary President Kwame Nkrumah, in which Ghana’s first postcolonial leader boldly and courageously sought to literally put the brakes on the excesses of his cabinet and executive appointees.

The inescapable problem with our kind of political culture and, by the way, it is pretty much the same throughout the African Continent and most of the so-called Third-World Countries, is that our politicians and leaders live relatively high on the hog like some “Afropean” expatriates. In other words, more than two generations after we were ceded our sovereignty from British and European colonial imperialism, African leaders continue to live almost as they had absolutely no radical or familial attachment to our homeland and our various countries and polities.

Our attitude towards the development of our healthcare system and the training of our healthcare providers is disconsolately dispiriting, to say the least. And this is all because our leaders prefer to spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars and pound sterling of taxpayer money seeking medical treatment abroad than wisely and significantly investing in our own hospitals and healthcare facilities at home, where we are more likely to be treated with respect and the requisite professional concern in the inevitable event of ill-health.

Indeed, the entire management of the John Agyekum-Kufuor-implemented National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), especially under the grossly incompetent tandem tenures of the National Democratic Congress-sponsored regimes of Presidents John Evans Atta-Mills, late, and John Dramani Mahama, left much to be desired. The criminal rigging up of the infamous Judgment-Debt Regime, predominantly and orgiastically pursued by the leadership of the National Democratic Congress, for the most part, in which the country lost billions of dollars to the overseas-based collaborators of our local politicians, is a systemic and a psychological problem that cannot be resolved with even the most humongous amount of taxation.

It has everything to do with patriotism and social responsibility on the part of both our leaders and the Ghanaian citizenry at large. Interestingly, I forgot to promptly add the fact that President Nkrumah’s “Dawn Broadcast” was delivered on the same day and morning on which I was born at Serwaa Amaniampong, Asante-Mampong, at the Saint Andrews Hospital. My late mother tells me that I was delivered by a European male doctor who immediately pronounced me to be “A very fine boy.” I also suspect that I was never a total disappointment to both of my parents and my maternal grandparents who raised me, for the most part.

But my birthday was not completely a very “fine” day. It was also a day that was fraught with some bizarre events, including the fact that my late father almost lost his life in a motor accident while campaigning for a District Commissioner’s Election, I suspect, on behalf of Mr. J. C. Akosa. My father was sitting on the backseat of DC Akosa’s two-door Volkswagen Beetle automobile with a megaphone when it suddenly caught fire. The Old Man would live with two blood-stained upper-front teeth for most of the rest of his life. Now, it goes without saying that no decent amount of taxation would have amounted to the proverbial “Hill of Beans,” in the hands of the leaders and the politicians who colluded with Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, putatively the Chief Financier and Foremost Underwriter of the National Democratic Congress, with the criminal complicity of then-President John Evans Atta-Mills and Vice-President John Dramani Mahama, as well as Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, the extant Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

Then, there was also this rather pedestrian problem which I encountered the last time that I was in Ghana, between July and August 2018, a problem that entailed the gross dereliction of duty by the operatives and staff of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the same state-run establishment officially charged with the implementation of the Electronic Transactional Levy or the E-Levy. I met several homeowners, including a couple of them who lived right here with me in New York City. To hear them tell it, you wouldn’t have known what to say. For years, nobody from the GRA had paid them a courtesy call or even sent a simple note of reminder with the intention of collecting their long-overdue real-estate property taxes. In the case of my own brother-in-law, who was also my host for the duration of our stay, that is, including my wife and two teen and preteen sons, Mr. Frederick Kwadwo Henaku had to personally drive up to the GRA Headquarters to literally beg them to take or accept his property taxes dating back a couple of years, if I remember accurately.

If, indeed, the Rt.-Rev. Mante really cares to be told the Real-McCoy Truth, and I have absolutely no doubt that the North-Suntreso, Kumasi, native really does: You see, it is not simply that too little amount of taxes gets collected by the Government for national development every year. No! Rather, it is just that the GRA deliberately either fails or flatly refuses to collect tax revenue due the Government and the State. Maybe they are permanently and eternally on strike.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

May 14, 2022

E-mail: [email protected]

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