The Akufo-Addo Administration has marked its first year in office with a modest acknowledgment of its successes.
As much as it celebrates these successes, the Administration has been also been hit with various scandals and controversies.
This piece examines what could be described as a yield to public pressure in the New Patriotic Party government’s push for some major policies.
In July 2017, Government sought to implement a mandatory vehicle towing levy previously approved by Parliament in 2012. Under the programme, vehicle owners and or operators were to pay various annual compulsory sums in anticipation of a tow service when and wherever their vehicles broke down.
Commercial vehicles and taxes were to pay GH¢40, whereas mini buses were to pay GH¢80. Heavy duty trucks were to pay between GH¢80 and GH¢200 annually, depending on their tonnage. Non-commercial vehicles were however expected to pay GH¢20. But the policy did not receive the expected support. Added to the largely social media backlash, the PPP’s 2016 Presidential Candidate, Dr. Nduom described the policy as smelly.
In his words;
“This smells badly. Chop chop for whom? At whose expense? Let those who flaunt the law pay and leave the rest of us alone. (emphasis supplied)”
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) also had a field day with the by now unpopular policy.
Watchers of the Insurance industry were not left out. In the end government announced a withdrawal of the policy in a statement signed by Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, which read;
“Upon consultations consequent to the calls, government has decided to seek a review of parts of the law. (emphasis mine)”
Well, the people wondered; should the broader consultations not have been done before the attempt to implement a law even its makers thought was extortionist?
And it also came to light in December 2017 that the National Service Scheme announced a controversial life insurance cover for serving personnel.
Under the policy, each of the over 90,000 personnel was to be compulsorily deducted GHc15g monthly. Social Media exploded almost immediately! Some of the Service Persons dragged the Scheme before Court while others petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
Executive Director of the Scheme under the Mahama Administration, Kpessah Whyte perhaps summed up the general public concern when he described the policy as a “daylight robbery.”
Again, the cries of the people reached the ears of the government, and the policy, through the National Service Secretariat, was withdrawn…
“The insurance policy for national service personnel has now been made optional… Management has therefore decided to suspend the mandatory monthly deduction of Ghc15.00 from personnel allowances. (emphasis mine)”
As if government and its agencies had not taken enough heat, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) at the dawn of 2018, started levying persons registering their vehicles a compulsory GHc108 each for first aid kits.
The Minority in Parliament raised an alarm, triggering a fresh wave of social and traditional media bash against the Authority.
Frantically as the DVLA defended the policy, its supervising Ministry, the Transport Ministry, denied all consent of, or concurrence to it; and the Minority demanded a probe.
Well, once more, the listening government, in the words of Deputy Transport Minister Titus Glover, came to the rescue. The ordinary driver got a reprieve.
In all of these instances however, questions remain of the conduct of government business.
Why would a government that seeks to eliminate entirely, nuisance taxes allow its agencies to impose such fees, fines, levies and charges, and do it so wrongly?
Is central government really unaware of these illegal impositions? Then who protects the public interest, I shudder to think.
By: Sixtus Dong Ullo
The writer is a broadcast Journalist at Citi 97.3fm