PRESS STATEMENT BY THE COALITION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE (CSJ) ON THE PDS SCANDAL AND KILLER TAXES CONTINUED DEMAND ON GOVERNMENT TO TAKE PRAGMATIC ECONOMICACTIONS TO REDUCE THE BURDEN OF THE SUFFERING GHANAIAN MASSES ADDRESSED ON 15TH AUGUST, 2019
Fellow Ghanaians, Friends of the Media, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning and welcome to today’s press conference. Through you, we once again express our deepest gratitude to the several thousands of Ghanaians who poured out in their numbers on 9th July, 2019 to demonstrate against hardships, insecurity and oppression under Nana Akufo-Addo.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have called this press briefing to address the good people of Ghana on some pertinent issues.
The issues include the mid-year budget review by the Finance Minister on 29th July, 2019, the mother of all scandals – which is the PDS/ECG/Akufo-Addo/Ken Ofori Atta debacle–, as well as other incidents of corruption which are increasing under President Akufo-Addo’s watch.
Mid-Year Budget Review
As you might all have been aware by now, the Finance Minister at the mid-year budget review which he presented to Parliament indicated the decision by government to scrap the obnoxious and problematic Luxury Vehicle Tax. This needless tax which was poorly introduced, undoubtedly, had a cascading effect on all Ghanaians and led to suffocation of businesses.
As such, the Luxury Vehicle Tax featured prominently in our heavily attended and historic ‘KUM Y3N PR3KO’ Demonstration in Accra last month which indisputablycompelled the government to have a rethink of the Tax.
The Coalition for Social Justice hereby expresses loads of thanks to the political party leaders, leaders of allied groupsand progressive forces, driver unions and each and everyone who supported and took part in that July 9th mammoth protest against the insensitivity of President Akufo-Addo and his NPP Government. It’s a demonstration that proved that indeed the people’s power is greater than the people in power.
However, we deem it as a responsibility to make the Ghanaian public aware that government has not been wholly truthful in the repeal of the law. Even though the law has been repealed, government has left a liability clause as a condition of renewal of roadworthiness certificate.
What this means, ladies and gentlemen, is that if for example, for justifiable reasons one did not renew the roadworthy certificate of a septic siphoning tanker, also known as ‘toilet tanker’ under the period of the law, you still carry the burden of paying the Luxury vehicle tax.
Government has shown bad faith and demonstrated that it did not have good intentions for repealing this bad, needless, misplaced and obnoxious Luxury Vehicle Tax law.
We, therefore, demand that President Akufo-Addo immediately scraps the tax in its entirety and wave away the liability on all defaulters since most of them may havedefaulted genuinely as a result of the nature and character of the law that brought the luxury vehicles tax into being.
Is it not astonishing and wicked that, for example, the luxurious saloon car being used by the Finance Minister with an Engine Capacity of less than 3.0 CC never demanded of him to pay the tax, yet struggling drivers and owners of water tankers and toilet tankers whose survival and income depends on their vehicles were made to pay the tax?
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The CSJ has also learnt regrettably the decision by the government to review upwards as many as five levies and taxes as contained in the mid-year budget review. These include, the Road Fund Levy, Price Stability and Recovery Levy, and these increments will cause an upward adjustment of cost of fuel which would have a rippling effect on businesses and our individual lives. Ghanaians are already reeling the increment of cost of electricity and water.
This is unacceptable! This is wickedness! And it is further proof that Nana Akufo-Addo is insensitive and wicked. The President has simply refused to listen to the cry of suffering Ghanaians including those who attended the Kum Y3n Preko demonstration.
Again, government through this budget review has proposed an increment of 50% in value of the Communication Service Tax. This insensitive government have also redefined the scope of the Communication Service Tax to include advertisement etc.
Practically, the media will also feel the brunt of the law as against the ability of businesses to pay more when they engage the services of the media. This is another subtle attempt by government to weaken the financial wings of the media.
Meanwhile, government has failed on its promise to reduce corporate tax from 25% to 20%, yet continues to impose more and more taxes on businesses.
This callous decision by government goes to manifest yet again the insensitivity of the Akufo-Addo government.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The overall effect of these taxes is that, more misery, povertyand hardship is being piled on Ghanaians who are already reeling under the mismanagement and extravagance of the Akufo-Addo government and their countless appointees and cronies.
Ghanaians never elected this 419 government, in 2016, to bestow such levels of tax burdens on us. Ghanaians are simply disappointed in and tired of this reckless Tax-and-Spend Akufo-Addo Government.
Our friends from the media, you are aware that this is a government that cried from the roof tops whilst in opposition that taxation was a lousy and lazy approach to governance and that if given the opportunity to administer Ghana, they would move this economy “from taxation to production.”
That’s one of the reasons for which sovereign Ghanaiansentrusted the responsibility of governing Ghana into the hands of the New Patriotic Party. Unfortunately, they are not only taxing Ghanaians stringently but also abusing and mismanaging the revenue being accrued.
The countless incidents of abuse of office by governmentappointees and the opulent and extravagant lifestyle of the President himself all amount to a rape of the public purse and we would not sit aloof and watch the poor Ghanaian tax payer suffer as a result.
Ladies and gentlemen, government has announced that the generational capacity of power is in excess of our demand for power. They further argue that the Take or Pay agreements in the power sector is the bane – causing unimaginable debts in the sector. This lame preposition serves as a justification for the increment in many taxes, some of which have no relationship with the energy sector such as the road fund levy.
In fact, the Akufo-Addo government’s tortoise-motion-style of rural electrification to the remaining 17% of Ghanaian communities without access to electricity is one of the reasons why we have excess power.
This government’s abysmal and unimpressive record of extending electricity to just 1% of communities without electricity in almost 3 years in office is a pale shadow of its predecessors. At this rate, government would complete nationwide electricity coverage in 30 years – 2049.
Why won’t they keep complaining about excess capacity when they are not expanding access to electricity? And would they have complained about excess capacity if their loud shouts about one district one factory (1D1F) had materialized?
Indeed, the complaint about excess power belies President Akufo-Addo’s failed industrialization policy – the ill-fated One District, One Factory political project.
Additionally, Akufo-Addo’s claim and plans to increase export of electricity to neighboring countries exposes the hollowness of their arguments against excess capacity. Moreover, the PURC just increased tariffs to reflect the dependable capacity so where is the so called excess capacity charge coming from?
Power sector and the PDS Scandal
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
About two weeks ago, the government announced a supposed suspension of the contract of the Power Distribution Services Company (PDS). It was followed by the suspension of the legal license of the company by the Energy Commission of Ghana.
The Minister of Energy has been categorical that PDS fraudulently procured a Financial Guarantee to acquire the contract. This action by government exposes the lack of due diligence and disregard for due process as far as contractual agreements under this government are concerned.
It is established fact that, the minority in parliament as well as industry players and civil society organizations in the power and energy sector warned government and kicked against the decision to allow PDS take over the distribution of power from ECG without adhering to all the conditions of the agreement as approved by Parliament.
The red flags were ignored as a result of the deep involvement of party kingpins in the ownership of the local consortium that make up PDS. The usual ‘chop-chop’ was the driving force in this reckless decision instead of value for money and national interest.
In the words of our esteemed National House of Chiefs, “the PDS corruption is a National Disgrace.” In our view, this is the single most scandalous and stinky corrupt deal of all timesto have befallen our dear nation.
Indeed, the PDS scandal is the “most sacrilegious murder” of our dear country, Ghana. The Akufo-Addo government is an accomplice as well as his appointees and family members; and yet again, the poor tax payer remains the loser.
Ghanaians deserve government’s disclosures and the full facts of this PDS scandal.
1. Why did government allow for the PDS takeover of ECG when about more than half of the conditions of the agreement had not been met?
2. Why did the Finance Minister, who is a cousin of President Akufo-Addo demand for the redistribution of shares of the Ghanaian companies in the deal after the takeover?
3. Under what circumstances – sole sourcing? – did the private former legal partner of President Akufo-Addo, Mr. Akoto Ampaw, become the negotiator of this unholy redistribution of shares?
4. What role did the Attorney General and Minister of Justice play in the entire process?
5. How much has PDS invested in ECG since the takeover?
6. How many Officials of Government traveled to Qatar, have they returned to Ghana, and what did they find?
7. What is contained in the PDS letter to the Energy Minister on 6th August, 2019 and how did that letter influence ECG’s decision to reappoint PDS to continue the agreement contrary to the President’s fake assurances?
8. Who are the shareholders of TBK World Plus company and what is their relationship with President Akufo-Addo and his family?
9. What is the update on the alleged disruption of the travelplans of the Chief Executive Officer of Donewell Insurance Company and the subsequent confiscation of his passport?
10. Why did a Bank Guarantee approved by Parliament as a condition precedent to signing the agreement change into an Insurance Guarantee and a condition subsequentinstead of condition precedent? and
11. What is the role of CalBank in all this fraudulent insurance guarantee?
OTHER CASES OF CORRUPTION
Ladies and Gentlemen, apart from untold hardships, neglect, failed promises, despair, hopelessness and insecurity being experienced by Ghanaians, Nana Akufo-Addo is also visiting unprecedented and increasing mismanagement, gross abuse of office and corruption on Ghanaians.
Corruption and graft have become the order of the day in this family and friends government and Ghanaians have already lost count of these incidents of corruption and rape of the public purse – the purse that the NPP in opposition promised to protect if elected into government.
The scandals witnessed under Nana Akufo-Addo’s presidency are unprecedented and comparable to none. Government officials who engage in naked thievery, bribery and corruption are whitewashed and cleared with dispatch by the President and some corrupted agencies of the State including the CID of the Ghana Police Service.
For example, the work of world acclaimed ace investigative Journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, has been rendered useless under this regime. Video footages shown to the nation of President Akufo-Addo’s appointees taking bribes and discussing corrupt deals have been rejected by state agencies. Most of these corrupt appointees are rather reassigned or in many instances promoted into very juicy positions.
In a recent media report, the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) finds in a research that in 2017 alone Ghana lost a whopping nine billion cedis (GHC9bn) as a result of corruption under Akufo-Addo’s watch.
We have been hit with another damning revelation from the Auditor General’s report of 2018 about the Ghana School Feeding Program (GNSFP). In this report, District Chief Executives, staff at the head office of the GNSFP and NPP party officials are draining the state funds through inflated school enrollment figures, duplication of schools etc.
More specifically, the report accuses eighty-one (81) Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies of declaring only GH¢194,383.00 from an amount of GH¢1.09 million realised from the sale of 21,880 application forms which were sold to caterers who applied for contracts.
Also GH¢899,617 which accrued from the sale of application forms remains unaccounted for and has been outstanding since 2017; and the report further singles out the Sekyere East District in the Ashanti region for particularly padding the enrolment of the figures and manipulation of data.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,
These strongly affirms President Akufo-Addo’s regime as a leaking bucket where so much revenue accrues but leaks through deliberately created holes into private and individual pockets as was witnessed during the reign of Bokassa, Idi Amin and Mobutu Sessekou.
This is the reason for which the government in spite of all therevenue it has gotten from oil proceeds, the over GHC85 billion borrowed, and monies from other sources continues to borrow uncontrollably and unjustifiably drawing attention from the IMF which has warned Ghana of dire consequences if the reckless borrowing is not checked.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The hopeless mid-year review budget has increased hardships on Ghanaians and the hardships will continue. Levies on petroleum products including LPG have gone up. It is undisputable that household consumers, drivers, market women, civil servants, and industries would bear the brunt. In effect, disposable incomes of households would shrink even further more than before and the cost of operations for industries and businesses would shoot up.
This would also result in transfer of cost to the final consumer through high cost of goods and services to atone for the increases in the operational cost of industries and businesses.
One certainty that would arise is the possibility of workers to be laid off which will compound the job losses due to the collapse of the banking sector and the general unemployment situation in the country.
Ultimately, cost of living would soar and the living conditions of the ordinary Ghanaian would be hampered and reduced to undesirable levels. As for corruption, its new address and synonym is Akufo-Addo.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we the members of the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) strongly believe that Ghanaians are being given a raw deal and we won’t allow this to persist because Ghanaians deserve better. After all, “Ghanaians are sitting on money,” Candidate Akufo-Addo in 2016 – ‘Y3te sika so nanso k)m de y3n.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are vehemently opposed to the astronomical increases in taxes on Talk time and petroleum products. We, also, support the Minority in Parliament’s request for the Government of the United states of America to investigate the PDS scandal.
Finally, through this press conference, and considering the hopelessness and helplessness; corruption and chicanery; suffering and savage butchering of the national purse, we wish to announce that we would mobilize the good people of Ghana to hit the streets again.
This time, we are going to the Tamale, the capital of NorthernRegion, in September to protest against tax hikes, hardships, insensitivity, the corruption and mismanagement that has gripped Ghana, insecurity and oppression of citizens and the press.
The Coalition for Social Justice is on a mission to redeem Ghanaians from the shackles of this clueless, inept and nepotistic government. We will strive and journey with suffering Ghanaians to fight for equity, socioeconomic advancement and restoration of peace and security in Ghana.
Once more we thank you most sincerely for attending upon our invitation and May the Good Lord keep blessing us all.
Comrade Brogya Genfi
(Director of Operations)
Comrade Abass Nurudeen
(Director of Communications)
Comrade Ishaq Awudu