Humans are imperfect and that makes them humans once they embrace their true selves.

But how far should we go in forgiving this imperfection? When can we call on government to stick with one narration and stop gambling with the lives of the many Ghanaians battling with unemployment, rent issues and floods?

As a young journalist, my aim is to stay unnoticed and ensure the lives of citizens today are better than what they had yesterday. However, with this recent backtracking and conflicting narratives Ghanaians have witnessed from the government, I am beginning to doubt if this young innocent lad of a journalist can continue to stay silent.

Somewhere in August, 2020, the discussion surrounding the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) decision to launch its 2020 manifesto in the Central Region led me to scribe “The Akufo-Addo led government has ulterior motives for Central region”; basing my conclusion with figures from the 2012 and 2016 general elections. The votes garnered by the NDC and NPP in the Greater Accra and Central Regions were used for the analysis to find out if the now government promised Cape Coasters a harbour just to win their votes.

For me, the hope was that science would be wrong and the Akufo-Addo-led government would prove members in the opposition wrong. (NB. I do not affiliate with the opposition party or the NPP, just an objective citizen). But just before the end of year one of 4MoreToDoMore, President Akufo-Addo proved his rivals in the NDC right.

All it took was “The commitment was never to a harbour; it was to a landing site,” by the President on Cape Coast-based Eagle FM. Was I disappointed that the incumbent government had abandoned the many who woke so early just to cast their ballot for the Elephant party? Yes, I was.

A story on MyJoyOnline platform dated October 18, 2021 “’I never promised to build a harbour in Cape Coast’ – Akufo-Addo” revealed that the policy is contained in the 2020 manifesto of the NPP.

Page 160 of the manifesto highlighted some infrastructure development to be expected after the NPP secures power in the general elections.  It said “This portion touches on several initiatives, including the commencement of the construction of ‘a new harbour in Cape Coast, and a new airport in Cape Coast.’”

This article gave the ordinary Ghanaian the chance to see the truth for themselves.

The controversial matter was later buried when President Akufo-Addo rendered an unqualified apology to the people of Central Region. His defence was “Let me just confess it. I made a mistake.” That is completely fine, after all, we are humans and to err is our nature and to forgive is divine. Who am I not to forgive the father of the land when the son of our father in heaven, while on earth stated “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” (John 8:7).

After this, I think I can speak on behalf of some Ghanaians who thought the NPP would not be the topic for discussion once again for contradicting themselves. Let’s face the fact, being trolled twice for the same issue is troubling – Once bitten, twice shy, they say.

But no. The incumbent government just could not stay away from controversy. Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta while delivering government’s Budget 2022 dubbed “Agyenkwa” told Ghanaians that government has decided to place a levy on all electronic transactions to widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector.

This new tax named Electronic Transaction Levy or E-Levy will cover electronic transactions, including mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments and inward remittances.

Here is how it works. 1.75% will be charged on these transactions. It will be borne by the sender except inward remittances, which will be borne by the recipient. Also, take note that to safeguard efforts being made to enhance financial inclusion and protect the vulnerable, “all transactions that add up to ¢100 or less per day (which is approximately ¢3000 per month) will be exempted from this levy.”

On November 2, 2021, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia in delivering a public lecture on government’s digitization drive at the Ashesi University on the topic “Using digitization to transform an economy – The Ghana story,” said  “when we assumed office in 2017, we asked the following questions:  How prepared is Ghana to compete in the emerging global digital revolution? Have we got in place the key pillars that would enable our economy participate in the emerging digital revolution? Is the ‘system’ we have fit for purpose?”

If I am not mistaken, the NPP government is calling on Ghanaians to embrace digital revolution. If you think I got it wrong, the statements below should help you see from a different perspective.

“What are the elements of this ‘new system; for digital transformation?” Dr Bawumia quizzed. He shortly replied saying “We want to build” among other things “A system that provides financial inclusion and a cash-lite economy.”

So it is clear government’s objective is a cash-lite economy. An article titled “Toward a Cash-Lite Ghana, Building an Inclusive Digital Payments Ecosystem” by the Finance Ministry indicated that the government of Ghana is seeking to harness the benefits of a shift from cash to digital payments by developing a national inclusive digital payments ecosystem where everyone can make – and receive – payments digitally.

Key findings of the Diagnostic Study according to the Ministry, was that Ghana’s total annual payments in 2016 were GHS561 billion, made by individuals, businesses and government. “By volume, 99% of the payment transactions were in cash and 1% were by digital means. In terms of value, 63% of total payments were via cash, whereas 37% were processed digitally.”

So I ask myself, why then impose tax on an initiative many Ghanaians are now trying to wrap their heads around. Not so long ago, we complained about Ghanaians not engaging the services of banks and carrying too much cash around. When the mobile money initiative popped up, many jumped on board. Its growth has been phenomenal.

Should you seek to drive a cashless economy, is there a need to introduce a tax at all, and if it is imperative for that to happen to enable government generate more revenue, is the current rate of 1.75% advisable?

Many are thinking of ways to “swerve” this tax. This will certainly foster more cash transactions. We cannot have a cashless economy with this. Definitely not.

What appears to have Ghanaians agitated is the contradictory words by Dr Bawumia with regards to the imposition of this new tax. In the year 2020, the Vice President when asked if mobile money should be taxed by Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM said “I don’t think Mobile Money should be taxed because most of the people who use the service are poor people. So if you put more taxes on it, they will suffer.”

This makes me wonder, should the people of Ghana begin to question your true positions on any topical issues that affect their livelihoods? If this is a political tactic to achieve whatever goal Ghanaians are not privy to, kindly refrain from it.

Already the Minority in Parliament is opposing the implementation of this initiative. I don’t know if that should give hope to the average Ghanaian since the same Minority that contested the 2021 budget and the appointment of some Ministers and their deputies later approved them.

Also, why has the Roads Ministry gone ahead to give the directive that road tolls should be scrapped when the Finance Minister clearly stated that “This [abolishment of road tolls] takes effect immediately the Budget is approved.”

A press statement signed by Roads Minister Amoaka-Attah dated November 17, reads: “Following the presentation of the 2022 Budget by the Hon. Minister of Finance on behalf of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, the Ministry of Roads and Highways hereby directs the cessation of the collection of road and bridge tolls at all locations nationwide. This directive takes effect from 12am on Thursday, November 18, 2021.”

Should Ghanaians also be concerned because an article on headlined “Phone transactions levy to pay for roads – Finance Minister” implies what reads.

Could it be that these recent contradictions are a mere coincidence. President Akufo-Addo, a man of honour, apologized to Ghanaians when he realized his fault. Should we look out for another sorry?

At this point, my heart races for the thousands of youth who are unemployed and struggling to come by job opportunities.

Do recall your government said government’s pay roll is full? Do not close your eyes to the pleas of the people.

Do not wait for the Minority to push you to the wall before you reconsider this unwanted E-levy. Already, I have chanced upon a tweet in which members of your government have expressed contradictory comments on this new tax.

Dear Veep, you once said “if you don’t digitalize you will not have much of an economy, PERIOD!”

Please be advised, stick to your own words and ensure government does something about the E-levy. Otherwise, Ghana as a country will not experience the cashless economy you so much desire.

I won’t go further. Kindly remember I am a citizen who is concerned and wants to ensure the first thing he sees in the morning is a smiling Ghanaian and nothing more.

Your government has a responsibility towards us in this regard. Please don’t fail us.

The author Andy Ogbarmey-Tettey works with under the Multimedia Group.

Follow him on Twitter @AndyOgbarmey

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.