I am an individual with a brain, a right to his own perspectives based on the environment i am surrounded by and the interactions therein. Any comment or sentiment that seeks to superimpose any organization to this statement will be dealt with, with the contempt that it deserves. That said, here goes:

Dear Dr Mahamudu Bawumia,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news; all things being equal, as things stand, you will not break the 8.

We have seen how you have bravely owned the digitization agenda, and the fruits it has borne. We have adopted paperless transactions. I can tell you for example that the whole year I have paid cash for fuel not more than 10 times this year, and I buy fuel at least 3 times a week.

We see and have understood the need for one ID to represent all other IDs, the Ghana Card and the integration of all other personal data to ensure comprehensive digital identities. We see the vision of how transformative this will be in safeguarding access to credit, and its consequent effects on economic growth.

We have also seen how all of these cashless systems and the institutional framework has enabled many Ghanaians, especially business people at the very small and micro level, access critical small loans to help grow their tiny businesses and therefore sustain them. We have seen how digital payments via Momo and cards have saved lives, kept families together and been the difference between life and death, right here on social media, helped children go to school, achieve their dreams, etc.

The question on every Ghanaian’s lips is why you are willing to set us back 40 years by a self-inflicted thermonuclear detonation to all these advances by a very perplexing decision to tax mobile money transactions?

Some of us are not economics PhDs – infact, the last time I studied economics academically, I couldn’t go beyond using calculus to calculate things like marginal cost and marginal revenue, and some hazy calculations of National Income. But I do know one thing; those who came together and packaged that proposal, allowed it emerge into an idea, and actually have the boldness to type it out and put it in the Ghanaian budget, at this stage of the evolution of the digitization process are your true enemies.

If you are reading this, and you are a member of the ruling government, please stop insulting Ghanaians with that talk of saying the e-levy is the holy grail to supporting entrepreneurship and building roads and whatever excuse that has been drummed up under the sun to support what might be the most economically backward, inefficient, lazy and greedy fiscal decision ever contemplated since the inception of the 4th republic.

Let me tell you the truth; the truth that a lot of people who have surrounded those of you at the flagstaff house will never tell you; Ghanaians have lost faith in your handling of the economy. Ghanaians have lost faith in any notion that your government will ever spend money prudently. Ghanaians have lost faith that their tax money will be used for anything beneficial. Everytime a Ghanaian traverses this country for a funeral, to visit family in other regions, etc, regardless of their party affiliation, they lament at the gross lack of empathy and displays of affluence by your colleagues in government. Everytime on a long journey they dodge potholes sometimes at the peril of their lives, and a Land Cruiser zooms past, they curse under their breaths.

The people who conceived this idea of the e-levy are the ones that have finally laid the nails to the coffin housing the dream that was supposed to break the 8. If you were part of that group, then boss, you have scored an own goal. You have with that move destroyed this delicate house that took years to build, together with your reputation, and more importantly, possibly, a legacy that would have endured 100 years and the chance to have been a trailblazer and an icon of African economic empowerment.

As the head of the Economic Management Team, I put the blame squarely on your shoulders for the fact that your team looked on for others to create castles in the sky based not on equitable hardwork, but motivated by nothing but flagrant greed and lazy thinking.

Like I said earlier, I am not an economist. I have never worked in a bank a day in my life. Infact, I will never qualify to even be a cashier at the bank. Neither will about 18.5 million and counting active Ghanaians who use mobile money actively. But we all do have one thing in common: pockets.

Week in week out, the hopes and dreams of many vulnerable sets of the population; doctors, nurses, teachers, rubbish collectors, fuel attendants, carpenters, fishermen, shoeshine boys, people you would have inevitably met on the campaign trail from Accra to Gambaga (borrowing from the Achimota Anthem) are bolstered by the ability to conduct transactions via MoMo. The bulk of these transactions are for critical, life-saving activities. Buying medicine, paying school-fees, depositing savings, paying for sales, paying for suppliers, etc… Infact, a lot of these, a reported 10 millon cedis a day in some cases, are LOANS.

Put yourself in the shoes of these small business owners; Maame Yaa who has left the village to the city to hawk pure water in the streets of Accra, who will borrow 150 cedis to buy a basin full of water, coca-cola, rush energy drink and others in the hot sun, who will have to transfer the money to a wholesaler everyday, whose margin on every bottle is all of 10 pesewas per bottle. Or Yaovi the carpenter, who buys wood at timber market to make kitchen stools, pays by Momo and sends Koku his brother to buy nails, sandpaper and lacquer but uses Momo, or Issifu the butcher, who sends Malik to deliver 4 kilos of beef to Memuna using Momo. How will they pay these loans?

Ghana cedis doesn’t rise like Tugyimi rice.

All these people transact more than 100 cedis a day, yet their margins on those amounts are but 10 cedis or less. Yet these constitute the bulk of Ghanaians that are increasingly dependent on these platforms. They are the ones that constitute that huge 89 Billion Cedi number that is being relied on to generate revenue. What you and your colleagues at the top forget, is that a lot of people doing business are already burdened under a credit system that is punishing interest rates around 21% mean that already, every business should yield more than 25% to stay afloat, and yet your team feels it is prudent to add an extra 2% to this gross cost in the name of the fact that people aren’t paying enough tax.

Where will they get the extra profit from? Where will they get the money to keep afloat? Who will support them? How will they make enough to pay workers, rent offices, pay taxes etc? Did your people think through the fact that the imposition of this tax as it is planned will plunge the whole trade in fuel at the pumps into oblivion? How much in margins do industries like fuel, fast-moving consumer goods, beverages and others make? Have you thought of the effect that the extra imposition of the 1.75% will have, and the knock on effect it will have on the ability of these companies to even operate?

Who sat down to notice that for the large population of Ghanaians who are employed in companies, not under the public sector, it is these companies that are employing people upstream and downstream in the economic value chain to ensure that there isnt abject poverty in the country?

Who has computed the amount of job losses that will occur as a result of the imposition of tax on high turnover high volume businesses with a margin of 2% profit? Who has computed the number of Ghanaians working in such economic sectors with these margins of gross profit? Who has assessed how many livelihoods will be threatened? Who in your team discussed all of these thoroughly to conclude without any doubt that it was prudent to go this path?

Who has evaluated the risks and why are we only being told of the benefits and them being touted without any attention or even listing of the risks inherent? Is this policy so good that there are no risks attached to it? If so, how so?

How are parliamentarians being encouraged on party lines to go co-sign this without discussing any of the risks and we as Ghanaians are not being educated on the pros and cons of matters that are going to directly affect us with ramifications that will ripple over the next decade and more without our input?

In our case, we are even lucky to have even identified the golden goose even before it hatches its first egg, and what are we doing after? We are not even waiting for the goose to lay an egg; we want to kill it immediately. A lot of businesspeople are considering actively the exit plans if this greedy tax is implemented. Trust me, the immediate effect, and the knock-on effect will be a disaster. I don’t know who decided that raking the money and dumping in other sectors without any appraisal of the end result was smart, but like I said, I am not an economist. But what I do know is that right under your watch, you are tying the noose around your head.

Should your parliamentarians go ahead and bamboozle their way to pushing this burden onto Ghanaians, they will, in a very short time, immortalize their names into the annals of Ghanaian history as the most irresponsible representatives of the people whose interests they swore to protect. They will be the economic traitors of our time, who for the gratification monuments of inconsequential data sacrificed the collective growth of society because they were privileged enough to do so. The private conversations people are having, they are not sharing their complete disappointment with the way things have gone. They are suffering in silence for fear of victimization. Those with voices who want to speak the truth are being silenced by their own colleagues and being threatened with ostracization.

Listen oooo….

Who has evaluated the risks and why are we only being told of the benefits and them being touted without any attention or even listing of the risks inherent? Is this policy so good that there are no risks attached to it? If so, how so?

How are parliamentarians being encouraged on party lines to go co-sign this without discussing any of the risks and we as Ghanaians are not being educated on the pros and cons of matters that are going to directly affect us with ramifications that will ripple over the next decade and more without our input?

In our case, we are even lucky to have even identified the golden goose even before it hatches its first egg, and what are we doing after? We are not even waiting for the goose to lay an egg; we want to kill it immediately. A lot of businesspeople are considering actively the exit plans if this greedy tax is implemented. Trust me, the immediate effect, and the knock-on effect will be a disaster. I don’t know who decided that raking the money and dumping in other sectors without any appraisal of the end result was smart, but like I said, I am not an economist. But what I do know is that right under your watch, you are tying the noose around your head.

Should your parliamentarians go ahead and bamboozle their way to pushing this burden onto Ghanaians, they will, in a very short time, immortalize their names into the annals of Ghanaian history as the most irresponsible representatives of the people whose interests they swore to protect. They will be the economic traitors of our time, who for the gratification monuments of inconsequential data sacrificed the collective growth of society because they were privileged enough to do so. The private conversations people are having, they are not sharing their complete disappointment with the way things have gone. They are suffering in silence for fear of victimization. Those with voices who want to speak the truth are being silenced by their own colleagues and being threatened with ostracization.

Listen oooo….

If for nothing, look at the number of years it took us to get here. Look at the millions of dollars that was spent. Look at how hard it was to build the systems. Look at how people are queuing in the sun today, sometimes for 3 days to get themselves digitized so that they can be part of this new paradigm. Look at the hope they are investing for the quest of having a more convenient way of life. Look at the sacrifices people have put in to get to this stage.…

And think about how you are going to destroy it all by letting amateurs dictate to you how you should run things. Amateurs who have no depth should not be allowed to sink this nation. This nation isn’t the property of one or two people. Some of us chose this nation over others because this is where God placed us. The world is watching.., We are failing, but we can stop the trend. It starts with you.

Let me tell you this, we all know the President doesn’t care anymore. We know he is as aloof as a kite in a thunderstorm. He has nothing to prove to Ghanaians. You are the one still under scrutiny. You are the one who is going to carry the hopes of a new dispensation. You are the one who we are evaluating to shoulder the challenges of this nation forward. You, more than anyone, has it all to lose. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a pathological liar and not worthy to sit in your presence or offer you any kind of advise.

Good night,A random citizen about to be insulted for telling the truth.

*****

All sentiments expressed in this post bear no affiliation to any purported organization that I have or continue to work with. All expressions here are mine and mine alone, and do not represent the views of any organization.



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