Following the hot pursuit and demand by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) that Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, the infamous owner of the Engineers and Planners (E&P) mining company, cough up nearly $13 million in tax arears and other penalties by May 8 or face rigorous prosecution, some stalwarts of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have been crying fouls and accusing the Akufo-Addo government of witch-hunting.
The latest to join such torrent of criticisms is Mr. Bernard Allotey Jacobs, the Central Regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress, who contends that there is a legion of foreign-owned companies that have been allowed to evade the payment of business and income taxes, as well as allow their owners to fully repatriate their profits to their home countries (See “Go After Foreign Businesses Evading Taxes – Allotey Jacobs Tells Government” MyNewsGh.com / Ghanaweb.com 4/27/17).
This bitter plaint from the Central Region’s NDC Chairman is farcical and bizarre, all at once, because during the last 8 years it was the National Democratic Congress that wielded the reins of governance, first by the now-late President John Evans Atta-Mills, and then by President John Dramani Mahama, the elder brother of the embattled Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, who had been Vice-President to the former University of Ghana’s tax-law professor for close to four years. This is rather at once funny and ironic, because it clearly demonstrates that former President Mahama learned little or absolutely nothing from his former boss and immediate predecessor vis-à-vis the dynamics of the revenue-collection system in the country. At any rate, what Mr. Allotey Jacobs clearly appears to be implying by his accusation against the Akufo-Administration of witch-hunting is that, somehow, it was absolutely hunky-dory for Presidents Mills and Mahama to have allowed the foreign-born owners of companies operating in the country to fully repatriate their profits and emoluments to the home countries of these alien proprietors but, somehow, President Akufo-Addo has absolutely no such right.
We call what Mr. Allotey Jacobs is demanding “double-standards” in the part of Ghana where I was born and raised. But there is also a very disturbing trend here. And it is the fact that the issue of Mr. Allotey Jacob’s allegation regarding the evasion of taxes by some foreign-owned companies would not even have come up for national discussion, had Mr. Ibrahim Mahama not been asked by the key operatives of the Economic and Organized Crime Office to both surrender his passports and face up to his perennial tax-evasion acts of felonious criminality. And if, indeed, the younger half-brother of former President Mahama had an arrangement with either EOCO or the administrators of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to cavalierly cause the bouncing, or dishonoring, of at least two-dozen checks as payments for some heavy-duty equipment that he imported into the country, why weren’t other Ghanaian businessmen and women afforded the same privilege of fraudulently issuing the same amount of dud checks and getting away with the same for as long as the owner of the Engineers and Planners firm did?
If Mr. Allotey Jacobs is not here poignantly and virulently accusing the former President of criminally abusing his executive powers to enable his younger brother dupe the nation to the tune of millions of cedis in tax revenue, then I don’t know what else the Central Regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress is implying here. And for his personal enlightenment and that of his NDC associates and cronies, Mr. Allotey Jacobs need not worry about the perennial tax-evasion leak caused by many a foreign-owned firm or company operating in the country. As Presidential Candidate of the then-main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), at least since 2007, Nana Akufo-Addo has made it emphatically clear that under his watch or governance, absolutely no business enterprise in the country, locally or foreign owned, would be allowed to get away with the fulfillment of its tax obligations and responsibilities to the State. That is what constructive nation-building is about. And this is what none of the leaders of the National Democratic Congress appears to have learned.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
April 29, 2017
E-mail: [email protected]