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09.06.2017 Feature Article

Akufo-Addo Needs To Take Charge

Opinion President Nana Akufo- Addo
JUN 9, 2017 FEATURE ARTICLE

Things like this give me great cause for concern about the question of whether, indeed, President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is really in charge of some critical aspects of the affairs of the country. The reference here is to a news story that appeared on many of the country’s media websites, titled “Tax Cut: Government Faces Contempt of Parliament Charge” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 6/8/17). In the story, we are told that Parliament in April passed a law pegging the Value-Added Tax or VAT from the cutthroat Mahama-stipulated rate of 17.5-percent to an investor- and entrepreneur-friendly flat rate of 3-percent across the board, which was supposed to have taken immediate effect.

However, for some yet-to-be-explained reasons, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) decided to put up an advertisement campaign informing the general public that the implementation of the act that made the new VAT rate the law of the land, or policy initiative, would only go into effect beginning July 1, some protracted three months later. The problem here, even as Deputy Finance Minister Kwaku Kwarteng pointed out the other day, is that “nobody, not even the Ministry of Finance, has the authority to suspend a law that has been passed by [Parliament],” and in this case, with a New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary Majority vote.

Now, the most logical question is this: Precisely who authorized the Director, or whoever is in charge of affairs at the GRA, to postpone the implementation of the new VAT rate without any formal consultation with the membership of the legislature? It is quite obvious that somebody higher up the administrative latter must have either rescheduled the implementation date for the new VAT rate or been informed of the same by the point-men and women of the GRA. For example, Mr. Kwarteng says that he has personally seen the advert on television; and so the next question is: Just how long ago did the Deputy Finance Minister first notice this advert? And what was his gut reaction to the same, being that the Deputy Finance Minister also sits on the parliamentary committee that passed the new VAT law?

This bizarre state of affairs simply does not make the government look good, in particular the Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta. The sector minister ought to promptly come out with a reasonable, or justifiable, explanation for such policy-implementation breach. He needs to; there are no two ways around this anomaly. If, for instance, such postponement is aimed at cashing in on the old regime for a little while, because the Akufo-Addo Administration woefully underestimated the extent of the effective bankrupting of the economy by operatives of the erstwhile Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress, the people have a right to know, pronto! Allowing the creators of such havoc to put the present government on the defensive is inexcusably unwise.

Needless to say, a defensive posture is the last place in which the key players of the Akufo-Addo Administration would want to be placed. I shall also be more fully touching on the sticky subject of the need for President Akufo-Addo to spend more time at home dealing with the humongous problems encumbering the Ghanaian people.

To be certain, most of his so-called pressing National Assignments could be readily delegated to Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and Foreign Minister Shirely Ayorkor Botchwey and, of course, many of the other sector ministers. The wanderlust track-record of virtually all of our Fourth-Republican leaders would make even some of the most well-traveled leaders some of our major Western donor countries blush. One begins to wonder whether these endless and, for the most part, patently wasteful trips are geared towards the enlistment of Ghanaian leaders in the Guinness Book of World Records or what? Somebody tell me!

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

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
June 8, 2017
E-mail: [email protected]

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2017

This author has authored 4507 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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