- implicitly confirms his rift with Ken Ofori-Atta over anti poor measure
Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, yesterday spoke for about two hours addressing members of the Tertiary Students Confederacy (TESCON) of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the Pentecost Convention Centre at Gomoa Fete in the Central Region, but did not mention the controversial Electronic Transfer Levy Bill (E-Levy) passed recently.
Dr Bawumia, who is the Chairman of the Economic Management Team, took pride in digital innovations rolled out by the current administration since assuming office in 2017, but NPP insiders have told The Herald that he has been against the E-Levy as an “executive extortion” from the poor, therefore, has either refused to endorse it or speak against it.
He had previously described as uncaring a move by the government to tax mobile money transactions as he said it is a domain for the poor.
In August 2020, Dr. Bawumia granted an interview to Accra-based Peace FM’s morning show Kokrokoo, where he disagreed with the suggestion that mobile money transactions should be taxed.
He told show host Kwame Sefa Kayi: “I don’t think Mobile Money should be taxed because most of the people who use the service are poor people so if you put more taxes on it they will suffer”.
The government through Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, when he presented the 2022 budget to the house in which he gave the impression that the E-Levy was the panacea to the country’s economic challenges, projecting it will rake in some GHC7 billion from all electronic transactions in Ghana, as part of moves by the government to shore up its revenue mobilization.
The E-Levy law Act 1075, states that it will cover “Mobile money transfer done between accounts on the same electronic money issuer”, “Mobile money transfers from an account on one electronic money issuer to a recipient on another electronics money issuer”, “Transfer from bank accounts to mobile money accounts” and “Transfers from mobile money accounts to bank accounts”.
It will also cover “Bank transfers on an instant pay digital platform or application originating from a bank account belonging to an individual subject to a threshold to be determined by the Minister.
He mentioned the likes of Mobile Money interoperability, drone supply of medicines, digitalisation of passport applications and driver’s license, introduction of Ghana Card and the usage of National ID numbers as Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) as some of the innovations brought about by the Akufo-Addo-led administration.
“And they still don’t understand the link between digitalisation and the economy,” he consistently interjected his address with these words.
But what many were looking forward to, was the long silence of the Vice President on the E-Levy.
Since the new tax was tabled in Parliament in November, 2021, Dr Bawumia, has failed to comment on its resourcefulness in the current revenue mobilisation drive by the government.
Therefore, it came as a surprise that he did not mention it at all.
He also never mentioned the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its three-time Presidential Candidate, John Dramani Mahama, though he frequently referred to the period of their administration.
He used “they” and “them” consistently in his address, an insinuation to the Mahama-led NDC government.
The Vice-President, reaffirmed the Akufo-Addo government’s commitment to its vision of transforming Ghana despite the global economic challenges which have wrought dire straits on the country’s fortunes.
Speaking at the Pentecost Convention Centre, Millennium City, Dr Bawumia, said the Akufo-Addo government has been focused on undertaking major structural reforms in the Ghanaian economy by shifting from a focus on the production of raw materials to value addition, and by diversifying the economic fundamentals.
This, Dr Bawumia said, is to address the urgent need to change the structure of the Ghanaian economy and make it responsive to the realities of the time, especially as the world moves in to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Virtually every government in our history has noted the need for Ghana to change the structure of the economy through diversification and by shifting from the focus on the production of raw materials to value addition. This is a key pillar of Nana Akufo-Addo’s Ghana Beyond Aid agenda,” Dr Bawumia emphasised.
The Vice-President explained that to accomplish this, the Government has implemented a number of programmes that continue to yield significant results, and has plans to implement even more. Some of the programmes include Planting for Food and Jobs to increase agricultural output for agro-processing and food sufficiency, which has resulted in a significant increase in food production;
The Tono dam and the Left and Right banks of the Kpong dam have been rehabilitated to provide 13,190 hectares of additional irrigable land for rice and vegetable cultivation. As well, 80 warehouses have been constructed with a combined storage capacity of 80,000 MT to provide storage and reduce post-harvest losses.
“Reforms in the cocoa sector (including hand pollination have resulted in the highest ever cocoa production (1,047,385 tonnes) recorded in Ghana during the 2020/2021 cocoa season. This is very remarkable.”
The “One-District-One-Factory” policy has taken off with a significant impact on the manufacturing sector, the Vice President continued. 106 factories have been completed and are operational, and 148 factories are under construction. This represents the largest number of factories established under a government program since independence.
“The facilitation of the growth of an Automotive Industry is on course. Volkswagen, Suzuki, Sino Truck, Peugeot, and Toyota, and recently Nissan have all established assembly plants in Ghana. KIA, Hyundai and Renault are also on course to start production in Ghana this year. Kantanka automobiles is also benefiting from the same incentives that have attracted these giants onto our shores.
True to its commitment to diversifying the economy and value addition, the Government has started the process of building the integrated bauxite and aluminium industry, the Vice President pointed out.
“The partner for the project (Rocksure International), a wholly-owned Ghanaian company, has been selected and has already started work to develop the Nyinahin-Mpassaso hills.
The Minerals Resource Estimate to confirm the quantity and quality of the bauxite will be undertaken this year after which the refinery design will follow for the establishment of the aluminum refinery. Ghana has waited for this since independence and with visionary leadership, sound planning and by the Grace of God it is finally happening,” Dr Bawumia indicated.
While celebrating these steps, Dr Bawumia, vowed the Akufo-Addo government’s commitment to economic reform, no matter how long it takes.
“Changing the structure of our economy through diversification and value addition will not happen overnight. However, it remains a major preoccupation of the government because it is our pathway to reduce import dependency, expand the economy, create jobs, increase exports, and support the value of our currency.
“The data shows that despite all the challenges of the last two years, even with COVID-19, the growth of the economy is fundamentally stronger than it was in the 2013-2016 period, and we will continue to do more,” he pledged.