17.5% petroleum tax is unacceptable

Opinion Icon News[2]

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Imposing a 17.5% petroleum tax on the country is unacceptable

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor Thursday, November 20, 2014

Folks, there is every good reason to condemn the government for imposing a 17.5% tax on so-called selected petroleum products, especially at a time that the cost of living has worsened because nothing is adding up well for those managing the economy.

I strongly oppose this imposition and support the Minority in Parliament for refusing to support it. I haven't been keen on walk-outs or boycotts but its use by the Minority this time is justifiable. The bill imposing the tax was presented under a certificate of urgency and passed into law today. The president of Ghana would be waiting to assent it when passed, Minority MP, Mark Assibey Yeboah, Minority MP and a member of the Finance Committee, said.

Reasons given by some members of the Minority are reasonable and supportable: Dr. Assibey Yeboah, has expressed serious disappointment about the 17.5 percent tax on petroleum. He described the tax imposition as “criminal” and vowed to “resist with my blood”.

(See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/business/2014/November-19th/govt-imposes-175-vat-on-petroleum-products.php#sthash.lNDPkhnz.dpuf).


I wonder how this government regards Ghanaians to be so brazen in imposing this tax, regardless of the loud protestations going on about its inability to solve problems to lessen the economic burden on the citizens. Considering the high tension among organized labour and the possibility of the situation degenerating into something damning for the government and the country, why should the government impose this tax at this time? The timing is horrible.

Again, if we consider the fact that the people have already been pushed too far to the wall by policies and measures aimed at squeezing taxes out of them, we can stick our necks out to say boldly that the government is doing acts to make itself unappealing to the people. It is the height of stupidity for the government or the Majority side that passed the bill to think that imposing such a tax is an easy way to maximize revenue.

There is too much concern about how revenues generated are being used. There is concern about corruption and its not being fought conscientiously by the government to warrant the imposition of any measure aimed at raising revenue for the state. Why is the government doing things to damage its own interests?

The fact remains incontrovertible that anything affecting the petroleum sector this way will definitely have serious repercussions and erode any gains that the government might have made in its efforts to improve living conditions. There is little to support this tax, and those who initiated the move to pass this bill can best be described as heartless.

There is more to worry about at this stage. The government has just brought down the roof on itself and given the opposition the strongest opportunity ever to undermine it. Too bad!!

The point here is that the government has failed to consider the plight of the citizens and is madly rushing to impose more hardships on them to its own political disadvantage. This petroleum tax is damaging. It has come at the wrong time and is not in the interest of the people or the country. I had wanted to write an opinion piece on how the government is managing the petroleum sector (especially the Jubilee Oilfields) before this STUPID tax issue cropped up. If Ghanaians aren't persuaded that the oil find is a blessing, they will not be prepared to sacrifice any more. Instead, they will resort to selective sabotage.

Can the government tell Ghanaians how the oil find has helped raise revenue to support its development projects agenda? And if there is a windfall from the Jubilee Oilfields, will there be any need to impose this 17.5% petroleum tax?

\I am painfully reminded of the Value Added Tax that Rawlings introduced to annoy his critics and the people only for it to be seen as a necessary evil. But WALAHI, this 17.5% petroleum tax has come at the wrong time and will hurt the government!!

he danger that I foresee is that when the people can no more soak up the pressure, they will bounce back to do damaging things to undermine the democracy that has been used to bamboozle them over the years. Is that what the government is preparing them for?

What, then, is the purpose of government/governance in a democracy? To impose hardships on the people or to guide and mobilize them to take action to solve problems and improve their living standards?

Why is the government so shortsighted when it comes to revenue generation and measures to effect it? Are taxes the only means to raise revenue? And why choose such a sensitive sector as "petroleum" to squeeze tight? There are many areas from where to generate funds if only those in charge of affairs will think outside the box. I am disappointed at this new turn of events, which will further dampen spirits and open up the government for vicious attacks. It's inconceivable that the government would choose to arm its opponents this way instead of doing things more decisively to disarm them. Tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaa to them!!!

The government should take immediate steps to renounce this “law” and President Mahama should not sign it. If the law is at the behest of those pledging financial aid to the government, it should be pointed out to the government that in its overzealousness to please those donors for mere pittance, it will harm its own interests as far as Ghanaian politics is concerned. Those donors aren’t new to us and shouldn’t be trusted to be genuinely supporting us to develop (solve our problems of dependency) to rub shoulders with them. They are vampires sucking us dry and will never want us to be as they are. They should be dealt with more decisively than we have seen so far.

I shall return… • E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com • Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor to continue the conversation.

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.