VAT increase and the Kume preko protest, a sad case of the Akufo-Addo led government

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A Press statement issued by the Truth Defense Network (TDN)

The government of Ghana successfully implemented the Value Added Tax in 1998 after a failed attempt in 1995. The act was repealed three months after its enforcement in 1995 due to stiff opposition by the then opposition parties. A massive demonstration organised under the auspices of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was one of the biggest protests organised in Ghana drawing hundreds of thousands of participants. Analysts argue that this demonstration played a key role in reorganizing the NPP by rallying support from smaller opposition parties for victory in the 2000 general elections. More than four people lost their lives in the protest with several others sustaining various degree of injuries. Kwabena Asante 22, Jerry Opey 25, and Richard Aminga 43 died on the spot according to an account by Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe.

The families of the dead and injured consoled themselves with the fact that their relatives died fighting a good cause. The pains and anger in them led them to vote massively to overthrow the then NDC government in the 2000 general elections.

One would have expected that the NPP government after its victory in 2000 and 2004 elections would abolish the VAT system some Ghanaians sacrificed their lives for. However, the government failed in that regard.

The emergence of Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo as flagbearer of the NPP in 2008 elections brought a lot of hope to the families of fallen heroes in the 1995 anti VAT protest. The message of tax abolishing, reduction of taxes and the creation of a business friendly environment brought so much hope to the ordinary Ghanaian. Victims of the “Kume Preko” protests were fulfilled after finally electing His excellency Nana Addo as President of the republic of Ghana in 2016.

On principle, an Akufo-Addo led government must have abolished VAT to prove to Ghanaians that the course they fought twenty years ago was a legitimate one. We were confident that the abolishment of “nuisance taxes” under his government would have seen a direct impact on the lives of the ordinary citizen and thus were in line with his anti VAT posture as demonstrated in the past.

Unfortunately, a critical look at the repealed tax components reveals an impact on the lives of only the elites in society. The ordinary Ghanaian who patronises “trotro” would have benefitted from any such abolishment of taxes if it were on petroleum products. Equally, stabilisation of the cedi against the dollar would have seen commodity prices either reducing or seeing some level of stability.

Above all these disappointments, the attempt by the Akufo-Addo led government to make an upward adjustment to the 17.5% VAT rate to 21.5% is in sharp contrast with the “kumi preko” fight twenty years ago. We in the TDN believe the best tribute that could be paid by this government to the lost heroes of the 1995 protests was to have either abolish, reduce or remain silent on VAT related issues. An upward adjustment in our view is an insult on the intelligence of every believer and participant of the “kume preko” demonstration.

The posture of the leader of such a protest suggest to us that he indeed acted in bad faith by deceiving innocent Ghanaians against a good cause. The death and sacrifices made by participants of this protest has been betrayed by this singular act of government if it indeed goes ahead to implement a new upward adjustment.

The Truth Defence Network (TDN) is by this statement calling on his Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo and his government to rescind its decision on this proposal or face the TDN in court on a charge of Man Slaughter where he and others deliberately led people to participate in protests that endangered their lives and caused pains to hundreds of Ghanaian families.

Signed,

Unas Aboagye Dadzie
(Communications Officer) 0244896989

Oteng Amponsah Enock
(Deputy Communications Officer) 0246122392

Madina Adams (Mimi)
(Executive Secretary, 0242037782)

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