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Wed, Jun

STATESMAN OPINION: NDC LIES AGAIN! NO VAT INCREASE IN MID-YEAR BUDGET

Business & Economy

The opposition National Democratic Congress seems incapable of fending off confusion over matters of prime national importance. The latest subject of NDC befuddlement, followed by a campaign of lies, is valued added tax (VAT). Unfortunately, with its latest "public information" campaign, the NDC has been caught napping on the job.

The opposition National Democratic Congress seems incapable of fending off confusion over matters of prime national importance. The latest subject of NDC befuddlement, followed by a campaign of lies, is valued added tax (VAT). Unfortunately, with its latest "public information" campaign, the NDC has been caught napping on the job.

Contrived rage about “imminent increases in VAT” figured prominently in an NDC press conference in Parliament on Monday 16 July, held to protest against the 2018 mid-year budget review by the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta.

At the press conference, led by Cassiel Ato Forson, Minority spokesperson on finance, the NDC stated categorically that VAT was about to be increased – or so the exclusive advance information on the mid-year budgetary statement available to the party said. NDC MPs warned the government not to venture down this path. If not, they said, the opposition would show its distaste for the government’s action by launching anti-VAT demonstrations nationwide.

The Minority demanded that the government rescind its “decision” and argued that an increase in VAT would overburden ordinary Ghanaians already struggling to get by. The New Patriotic Party government was only seeking to plug a budgetary deficit by punishing the poor, the NDC claimed.

Whose ‘shallow populism’?

“The Akufo-Addo government should be wary of burdening Ghanaians in its desperation to save face,” said Forson, a former deputy finance minister. “The fiscal problem is a direct result of shallow opportunism and populism.”

Yet on 19 July, when the Finance Minister stood to read his statement to Parliament, no mention was made of a hike in VAT. In fact, VAT has not increased from the current 17.5 per cent to 21.5 per cent, as the NDC claimed was about to be announced: it has been reduced ‒ from 17.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent.

The NDC has repeatedly shown itself incapable of engaging in reasoned public debate. The party’s default modus operandi is to create panic based on bare-faced falsehoods. It simply cannot resist any opportunity to spew lies into the public domain.

As on 16 July 2018, so on14 November 2017 the NDC held a press conference at which spokesmen on the economy predicted that the 2017 budget would raise a new tax on mobile money transactions.

This “new tax”, they claimed, was a grave threat to financial inclusion and Ghana’s growth. They warned that the NDC would do everything in its power to resist attempts by the NPP government to introduce the new measure.

Swill of lies

At its 2017 “breakfast meeting” on the economy with civil society activists and the press, the NDC warned that the government’s yet-to-be-announced budgetary measures would be a recipe for disaster.

In the event, Ghanaians learned that what the 2017 budget proposed was worlds apart from the claim that mobile money would be taxed. No tax of any kind was imposed on such transactions.

And yet, again, stampeding this month to feed from the trough filled with the swill of lies issuing from the NDC propaganda machine, NDC communicators spent days shouting on the radio, on television, on social media and in print about how the new measures would cause disaffection between the government and Ghanaians. They seemed to forget, conveniently, that it was those same Ghanaians who voted resoundingly for the NPP ‒ and not the NDC ‒ in the 2016 general election.

What wishful thinking by our friends on the opposition benches. The NDC must sit up and learn that those who seek the kingdom of political advantage must first seek the kingdom of truth.

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