News The African Way

E-Levy is Not For Presidential Jet, By Enimil Ashon

Ghanaians slept well on Tuesday night; after all, it’s not every time one not only whips an enemy so convincingly but also qualifies for the World Cup with 11 one-footed players; the other foot having been disabled by compatriots’ cynicism. Never before had any national football team gone to battle starting off as 0 -11 underdogs in their own country.

Kudos to the New Patriotic Party. They finally got their E-levy. How the coup was executed in Parliament, only a few insiders can fathom. It was a masterstroke that left even a goggle-eyed Speaker of Parliament wondering how it happened!

Remember the Finance Minister’s speech before the House (March 24)? Part of it was a promise conditional upon “when the E Levy is passed next week”. That’s bold if you ask me, were it not so uncanny, what with Adwoa Safo’s adamantine refusal to fly down and one other NPP MP on a bed of affliction.

Radio commentators say they saw an ambulance parked on the Parliament premises and suspected it was the ailing Minister for Chieftaincy and Religion stretchered from his hospital bed to cast his vote. If this is confirmed, it would be only the second time in Ghanaian Parliamentary democracy; the first being in the Limann government when an MP (some of us knew him only as Rockshell) was similarly stretchered from a Tema hospital to Parliament to cast his vote, without which Dr Hilla Limann’sbudget would have suffered a second successive defeat in the House.

Talking about political acrobatics in this nation, it is recalled that while the motion to throw out the Limann budget was moved by Dr Jones Ofori Atta of the Opposition PFP, it was seconded…please, take a deep breath…by Dr G.K. Agama, the ruling PNP’s Ranking Member on Finance! For the records, the “troublesome” Dr Jones Ofori Atta was the father of today’s Finance Minister.

I didn’t support the passage of the levy, but as a good citizen, I will abide by the majority decision; plus, after all, what can anyone do except obey. A businesswoman called me on Wednesday morning after calculating how much her business stood to suffer. She has over one thousand workers in the region, whose salaries are sent to them by MoMo through their bank account. If she does not top up by 1.5%, the workers’ salary will be less by 1.5%!!!

That’s how much this hurts the private sector. And that is why it is my duty to remind the President of the simmering anger of the people. It could break out if the Executive make the mistake of buying a new Presidential Jet.

Not everybody who calls themselves advisers of the President means well. I can imagine them urging the President not to mind the ‘against’ people; that “Nana, waye bi” (you’ve suffered for this country) and so “Di wo de” (It’s time to enjoy some).

Speculation has been rife that the President, as part of measures to stabilize the economy, may announce a downsizing of his Cabinet. That’ll be wonderful. Why should any country with a Ministry of Culture also have a Ministry responsible for Chieftaincy and Religion, for instance?

Other Ministries that can easily be subsumed under others include Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (which can be made a department at Food and Agriculture), Railway Development (give it to Transport) and Public Enterprise (can be an office at Jubilee House), same way as Aviation has gone back to Transport

During the week, there has been a suggestion that the President look at “Foreign travels”. My only contribution here is for a closer look at “Per Diem”, especially if it does not take care of “Accommodation and Meals.”

PS: News on Wednesday morning was that NDC had petitioned the Supreme Court against the Tuesday voting. Is it the same NDC to whom the integrity of the present S.C judges is in tatters? My advice: the party should insist on British, American or Australian judges to hear this case. Are they going to court only to announce, if they lose, that they had lost to a politicized panel? Francis Xavier Sosu should lead that call for foreign judges.

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