VAT back in disguise?
The Alliance for Change (AFC), the group behind the Kume Preko and Siemepreko demonstrations which shook Accra and Kumasi respectively has criticised the government for the new Sales and Service Tax act which has been introduced to replace the suspended VAT act.
At a symposium on "The State of The Nation" at the Christ the King Church Hall in Accra, the AFC described the Sales Tax as a "baby of the VAT, dressing up in ill-fitting. old clothes" citing among other things Section 9(2) of part II of the Act which states: "all persons who on the coming into force of the Act are registered with the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (Act 468) for the tax specified in this Act shall on coming into force of this Act be deemed to have been registered for the service tax under the Act".
Dr Wereko-Brobby of the Alliance said "unless and until the NDC government learns to put a stop to its profligacy, and individual state officials learn to live in a style and manner commensurate with the immense sacrifices of our people, there can be no justification for any new tax burden on the people". He noted that long before VAT was introduced factors like the 26% increase in petrol prices, galloping inflation, the rapid rate of depreciation of the cedi against the world's main currencies, increased charges for electricity and water had all contributed to make life very difficult for most Ghanaians. No wonder they came out in their numbers to tell the government how they feel.
Speaking on "Rumblings on the Labour Front", Mr Akoto Ampaw called for a continuation of the agitation and struggles on the labour front "in the light of the crisis in the economy, especially the fiscal and financial crisis manifested in the withdrawal of the VAT and its resurrection as the sales and service tax". To a long round of applause from the audience he stated: "As the living standards of workers plummeted to levels unknown, we had side by side, the jarring and obscene spectacle of December 31 NOUVEAUX RICHES strutting about and staggering in vulgar ostentation, enjoying their new found, ill-gotten pillage".
Mr Kwaku Baako Jnr spoke on the topic "Are the Kume Preko demonstrations a threat to the maintenance of law and order in the 4th Republic?" Making extensive references to the Constitution, he described Kume Preko as a legitimate pressure campaign which citizens could and should apply to keep governments and management's in line with principles of accountability, transparency, freedom and justice. "There is nothing subversive and conspiratorial about this" he added to thunderous applause from the audience. Mr Baako described Kume Preko as the reflection of an awakened people standing to an intransigent and insensitive regime, and forcing it to move in the direction the people want. He described this as a "triumph" of civil power.
One of the spokesmen for the Alliance, Nana Akufo-Addo outlined the motivating issues which led to the formation of the group. These are the common belief that the Rawlings regime poses a grave threat to the survival of democracy and the prospects of national unity and reconciliation, the organisation of a united opposition front, and the common desire to act as catalysts in the process of political mobilisation and organisation, in order to effect peaceful change in the control of government and the direction of government policy.
He stressed the need for foreign aid and investment TO SUPPLEMENT GHANA'S OWN EFFORTS AND NOT TO SUPPLANT THEM, as they do at the moment.