The Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Richard Ahiagbah, has called on the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to offer alternative solutions to the challenges facing the country instead of merely criticizing the government’s measures.
Ahiagbah criticized the NDC’s stance on the government’s introduction of new taxes, including the Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity and the Emissions Levy. Various stakeholders, including Organized Labour and the Ghana Road and Transport Union (GPRTU), have expressed opposition to these taxes.
In an interview, Ahiagbah urged the NDC to present viable alternatives to address the economic challenges confronting the nation, especially since they oppose the imposition of VAT on electricity and the Emissions Levy.
Attributing the country’s difficulties to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ahiagbah asserted that the government had been compelled to introduce new taxes to cope with the economic fallout. He suggested that, in comparison, the NDC might have imposed even higher taxes if they were in power due to what he described as their democratic inclinations.
“What will be the NDC’s response, given the problems that we are in because, knowing their disposition as social Democrats, their tax orientation will be different from ours? We will impose fewer taxes, but, through their socialization, they will introduce more taxes. So between us [the NPP] and them [the NDC], there’s differentiation. The NPP is a liberal-conservative political party; our disposition is not to increase taxes, but the difficulty in which we have found ourselves compels us to do otherwise.”
“We are taking these medicines not because we are healthy. These are not preventive medicines; these are curable medicines we are taking as a country to be able to heal ourselves from the impact of the disease that we are suffering, in this case, COVID-19.”
He acknowledged that the government is mindful of the hardships Ghanaians are experiencing and will not worsen their situation by imposing harsh taxes.
“We are mindful of the position of the citizenry, one that we know is difficult. But under these circumstances, what will be the NDC’s solution, whose inclination will be taxation for government revenue? What will their response be? We need to have the NDC tell us what their response will be. The government hears what citizens are talking about, and the NPP naturally will not apply this tax under any circumstances. They are the taxers; we use tax as a means to stimulate production,” he said.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has stated that it will not be part of the deliberations on the VAT on electricity.
But Ahiagbah called on organized labour and other stakeholders to honour the government’s invitation to dialogue.
“Democracy allows for dialogue, and dialogue must be given a chance,” he urged.