On this occasion, the former President took to touring bus terminals and lorry stations in and around the Greater-Accra Metropolis, once again, vacuously promising to scrap the recently proposed tax increases on imported luxury vehicles (See “Mahama Vows to Abolish Luxury Vehicles Tax” Modernghana.com 4/18/19).
Personally, I was a bit uneasy when the luxury-vehicle-tax increments was announced by the government. You see, you simply do not rob Peter to pay Paul just because you think that Peter can afford such official highway robbery and still feel good and comfortable in the wallet. As we all know, taxation is a primary question of justice.
Besides, good governance is decidedly about fiscal discipline in much the same way that individuals deal with personal spending money. You simply don’t recklessly spend over and above what you don’t have, in hopes of successfully robbing the local bank to make up for your shortfall. That is a plain, inexcusable act of criminality deserving of rigorous prosecution and the longest prison sentence with hard labor.
In the case of Mr. Tear-Down, however, the abject hypocrisy lies far less in the fact of whether the imposition of the new luxury-vehicles taxes is justifiable or not; it is simply a question of credibility, trust and principles. The fact of the matter is that any promise given by Mr. Tear-Down is as worthless as a pesewa in the old Rawlings’ shinplaster. This is the man who also promised to retrieve the Woyome loot in absolutely no time in the leadup to the 2020 Presidential Election.
Now, we all know what happened to that promise. Reading the news report presently under discussion in this column, it was not clear to yours truly whether the Akufo-Addo Administration had a quite different definition for what it meant to label a vehicle as one belonging in the category of “luxury vehicles.” For example, I see pickup trucks of all models being described as “luxury vehicles,” instead of “commercial vehicles,” in which category of vehicles they clearly seem to belong.
If, indeed, it is every type of vehicle traditionally owned by the well-heeled and powerful in Ghanaian society – such Mercedes Benz, BMW, Lexus and Volvos, etc., as well as some models of SUVs – then, by all means, let the Finance Minister or whoever mooted such an idea come clean with a categorical explanation for the same. Still what makes the Mahama promise to scrap the luxury-vehicles taxes not worth our listening while, is the fact that a critical examination of the import-tax regime under his tenure makes the Akufo-Addo version incredibly look like Christmas in April. In other words, taxation under the Mahama government was far more insufferably cutthroat than Osama-bin-Laden.
If the former President really wants to be taken seriously at his word, then what Mr. Mahama needs to do is to boldly come out with a comprehensive national-development agenda, detailing to Ghanaian voters what he intends to do positively and constructively that is different from what his successor is already doing and far more conducive to the temper of the times, as it were.
Alas, from his jaundiced pronouncements and the general look of things on the ground, in particular his development track-record, it is highly unlikely that the man described as incurably corrupt by the Founding-Father of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, Chairman Jerry John Rawlings, would be able to do anything of this sort.
For, so far, all Mr. Mahama has been preaching on the stumps is how to systematically tear down every constructive development program or project established by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, with the eerily apparent objective of taking our one and only beloved nation back to Bataan or square one.
Among the Akan, there is a pointed dictum for this sort of neurosis or deliberately calculated madness. It goes as follows: “If you don’t have any gift for your parents-in-law, does it stand to reason for you to attempt to rob them raw?” You see, it is rather pathetic that whenever he is not apoplectically or cholerically promising to dismantle one visionary and progressive Akufo-Addo-initiated project or policy initiative or another, Mr. Mahama seems to have absolutely nothing meaningful or quality-of-life-enrichment alternative to offer Ghanaian citizens and voters. It ought to be clear to all Ghanaians, without regard to political party affiliations or sympathies, that in President John Dramani Mahama, we have absolutely nothing to gain or positively hope for, going into Election 2020, but every present positive achievement or gain to lose.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York