Of Free SHS, E-Levy, and The Blood of Jesus

…just like Free SHS, E-Levy is not “the blood of Jesus.” It cannot, and won’t solve all our problems as a country. But I believe it will make a significant dent if it succeeds, just like Free SHS has.

No country has relied on a fixed set of revenue measures/sources since Adam. Some taxes have a long life-span. Others are designed to be short to medium term. In moments of “great danger” and instability, countries all over the world have established fiscal measures, including taxes, that have help them transition out of it. We’re not in normal times. We didn’t plan for COVID to happen. No country really did, and, if you look at the numbers, every country, great and small, have had to scramble and take extraordinary, COSTLY measures to protect lives, preserve livelihoods, and help begin the long process of recovery.

I use a payments aggregator, and make a lot of payments electronically. Significant transactions. I must confess I’m not looking forward to the charges I have to pay when the E-Levy comes into force. Hell, I’m always huffing and puffing when I pay the 1% platform charges on e-transactions. Even worse when vendors tell me to “add something” for the charges. Naturally, as a rational consumer, I’d be lying if I say I’m looking forward to more “charges.”

But, and let’s forget for a minute that I’m a public official, this Government, more than any in the Fourth Republic, has shown faith with Ghanaians in the good and bad times. It is now our turn, collectively to return the favour so to speak.

In normal times we cut, abolished, and reversed taxes. We “returned” billions of cash to Ghanaians through Free SHS. We invested in farmers to re-energise the agricultural sector, we supported private sector investors to start new factories and revive “dying” ones, we instituted stop-gap employment programmes to provide on-the-job/workplace skills and some income to thousands of otherwise unemployed youth, and we have kept the power on for homes, businesses, and industries after years of daily power outages.

During the “bad times” of CoVID, we gave Ghanaians relief through free water and electricity, allowances and tax rebates for various frontline and allied workers, hired thousands of health workers and recalled many on retirement. We invested a lot of resources in logistics in managing the difficulties. We scrambled all over the world to fight for lifesaving supplies which was difficult to come by, including vaccines (and the controversies that came with some of these efforts.)

The E-Levy will certainly not, in Abacadabra-fashion solve all the fiscal strains of both the global and domestic impact of CoVID on us. Neither will it resolve long-term structural issues with our economy. But there is no shadow of doubt that it will make a big dent over the short to medium term.”

It is important to differentiate between the politics of protest and the politics of leadership. The time for protest is over. It is time for leadership.”

I’m not looking forward to E-Levy with smiles because it will take money out of my pocket. But, like Londoners during wartime, I’ll purse my lips, straighten my back, and contribute to the “war effort.”

I wish you’d do same.

Long Live The Republic ??????