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General News Mon, 16 May 2022

NDC’s 1995 VAT retreat was triggered by ‘Kume Preko’ demos – Kwesi Pratt

Kwesi Pratt recounts 'Kume Preko' protests

Pratt slams docile, ineffective oposition

Pratt slams government over hardships


Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper has punched holes in the position being advanced over why the then National Democratic Congress, NDC, government withdrew the Value Added Tax, VAT, bill from Parliament in 1995.

Pratt recalls that the notion that the NDC withdrew the bill voluntarily to allow for more consultation before resubmitting after tweaks, was untrue.

He advanced that the NDC in 1995 had a clear majority in Parliament and could have gone ahead with the rate that was later reduced, but for opposition demonstrations at the time dubbed ‘Kume Preko.’

“I listen to my friends from the NDC, luckily one of them is sitting on my right (Inusah Fuseini) and they come up with all kinds of concoctions… they come and say we were very democratic and so on.

“So you hear NDC people saying, 'in May 1995, when the Kume Preko demo occurred, even though we dominated Parliament completely, we withdrew VAT, went back to the drawing board and reduced the level of taxation and so on,' It is not true.

“It wasn’t voluntary. Any government which saw the force which was unleashed by Kume Preko could not have gone ahead to implement VAT,” Pratt said on Pan African TV’s weekend news analysis programme, Alhaji and Alhaji.

“When the first demonstration went ahead on May 11, the estimate is that about a 100 and 150,000 people took part … which is still unprecedented in our history…. Following week or two weeks later (in) Kumasi, 500,000 people took part in the demonstration.

“If you were in the government, will you continue to implement VAT? So we are where we are because the current opposition cannot do the kind of things that the opposition then did in 1995. That is why we are where we are,” he stressed.

In the wake of government’s one-sided passage of the Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy), the NDC has pointed to how the then JJ Rawlings government withdrew VAT from Parliament in order for it to be reviewed.

In Pratt’s view the current NDC opposition is failing in its responsibility to hold the government to account amid the rising cost of living.

He described as ‘bogus’ the party’ strategy to use only Parliament and the courts as avenue for opposing inimical government policies.

“Strategy excuse is not true… whatever the strategy is, it ought to result in the minimization of the suffering of the people. This strategy is not working. If it is a strategy, it is a bogus strategy because it is not working at all.

“The hardship is getting exacerbated hour by hour, day by day and week by week, so it is a bogus strategy which ought to be abandoned as quickly as possible,” he added.
Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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