Yaw Buaben Asamoa
The ruling New Patriotic Party on Thursday May 11, 2022 went into memory lane about the Kumepreko Demonstration against the Value Added Tax (VAT) 17.5 percent introduced by the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
The party said it has taken some lessons from how some innocent Ghanaians lost their lives during the demonstration.
As part of the commemoration, the NPP in a statement said Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government is poised to make a difference in infrastructure funding through momo tax after peacefully introducing E-levy with the country recording no death.
The NPP believes that over borrowing is no longer an option hence the need to find innovative way to generate revenue internally to finance development.
Below is a full statement from the NPP on the Kumeproko Demonstration anniversary which occurred on May 11, 1995.
Wednesday 11 May 2022, was the 27th anniversary of a hardly commemorated event, the “Kumepreko” demonstration against the new Value Added Tax (VAT) introduced by the then NDC government at 17.5%.
On that day, eight people, unarmed citizens demonstrating peacefully, were gunned down in broad day sunshine by members of the ruling NDC, specifically, the ACDR (Association of Committees for the Defence of the Revolution) a wing of the then ruling party.
Even though evidence pointed to specific individuals, no one was eventually punished for those brutal murders.
The tax was temporarily withdrawn to be reintroduced at 10%. But did eight Ghanaian citizens have to be executed in the streets of Accra just for holding a different point of view?
Commemorated for the infamy of unfettered violence and murder committed by the NDC Government, the event takes on new significance with the advent of the e-levy.
Reluctant to invest the hard-earned revenue of the British Crown, the British Government handed over management of the lucrative coastline to merchants whose focus was to impose as much order as was necessary to facilitate extraction of goods for export and profit.
In 1852, the Colonial Administration passed the Poll Tax Ordinance of one shilling a year per head of household to fund development.
Six years later it was repealed after major, sometimes violent compliance complications. The British then abandoned us to our own devices through indirect rule but invested in infrastructure suitable to their needs.
Railways, bridges and roads to the mines, a port at Takoradi to extract the timber, and exclusive residential areas and segregated hospitals.
Governor Gordon Guggisberg is popular for his inclusive infrastructure and economic opportunities, but he did not solve the conundrum of providing widespread social infrastructure without a steady internal cash flow.
Thus, Prime Minister Nkrumah inherited a treasury filled with dividends from commercial trading in gold, diamonds, timber, and cocoa and hardly any income taxes.
As the value of our state commercial tradables has declined, so has our ability to fund development. We do not have sufficient hospital beds, enough schools, adequate roads, fair housing, widespread portable water, or reliable energy. Mostly because just like the colonial
British Government, we are hesitant about the rather sensitive matter of taxing ourselves sufficiently to meet the cost of our basic development needs.
It is now clear, however, that borrowing is no longer an option. There is no debt market kind enough to lend cheaply and in numbers big enough to meet our need for hospitals, schools, railways, bridges, roads, airports, portable water, affordable housing, cheap energy, and processed food.
Moreover, these long-term investments are challenged by weak servicing streams and therefore not attractive or even easily accessed if available.
In the meantime, we are regaled with hilarious, yet serious facile political talk of which party is best at borrowing and managing debt for political advantage. Without adequate sustainable revenues, no government can meet national voter expectations of the development gap. As government needs have grown, so has revenue shrunk and expectations risen.
So, the Nana Addo led New Patriotic Party Government has embarked on vigorous internal processes to beat the Poll Tax jinx. Happy indeed, is the news that Momo operators are now backing the e-levy, a universal, gentle tax with potential to raise significant amounts of development funding.
Coupled with the conversion of the Ghana Card to a tax identity, a masterstroke that expands the income tax net from a low of two and a half million to potential to mine fifteen million identities, Ghana under the NPP is poised to make a difference in infrastructure funding. Especially if we can also collect fair property taxes effectively.
In the context of internal taxation challenges over the years, the NPP congratulates the President Akufo-Addo Government, for its bold and honest governance posture, persistently engaging the people on what’s best for the future and delivering on same.
In conclusion, it’s important to recognise the high level of professionalism with which the Akufo- Addo administration and its security and collection agencies have handled tax matters. Unlike in the past, militias and security agencies are not dispatched to shoot and kill citizens who disagree with tax measures. Instead, ministers of the Government are dispatched to travel the country and engage citizens to explain the rationale of the policy. This alternative is obviously preferable.
We thank the people of Ghana for accepting the e-levy in the hope that this anniversary of ‘Kumepreko’ inspires us to adopt best practices in tax collection, whilst consigning bitter memories of protest and violence to the dustbin of history.
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana
Yaw Buaben Asamoa, Esq.
By Vincent Kubi
(National Communications Director)