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Bawumia vs. Akufo-Addo: Five times president and his vice have disagreed

“There is no ambiguity about where the buck stops… It stops with the President, he or she has ultimate responsibility,” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo asserted while addressing Ghanaians at the State of the Nation in February 2024.

This statement seemed like an attempt to absolve Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia of any blame for his government’s shortcomings.

Facing criticism from opposition parties, Bawumia finds himself under scrutiny for the economic failures of the Akufo-Addo administration. The weakening cedi, soaring inflation, and escalating public debt are among the pressing economic challenges confronting the nation.

Given Bawumia’s bold pledges to “arrest the cedi” and transition from taxation to production, Ghanaians naturally held high expectations.

Yet, these assurances remain unfulfilled, leaving many disillusioned. As the head of the economic management team, Ghanaians anticipate Bawumia to shoulder accountability.

Coming to Bawumia’s defence, Member of Parliament for Akim Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea, deems it unfair and harsh to attribute the Akufo-Addo government’s economic woes solely to Bawumia. He argues that Bawumia’s advisory role often confines him from pivotal decision-making.

However, President Akufo Addo acknowledged Bawumia’s intellect, stating, “Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia is also a clever man, and I needed his brains to help me guide the country effectively.”

Yet, the president’s reluctance to heed Bawumia’s counsel on critical matters begs the question: Why disregard advice from such a capable figure?

While it’s reasonable for Akufo Addo to exercise judgment in accepting counsel, Bawumia’s recent remarks indicate significant disagreements with the President on crucial issues.

This article will delve into five instances where Bawumia and Akufo Addo’s views diverged.

“ELEPHANT SIZED” GOVERNMENT

Dr. Bawumia’s declaration of having no more than 50 ministers and deputy ministers came as a shock to many Ghanaians, marking a significant departure from President Akufo-Addo’s preference for what some termed an “elephant-sized” government.

The president’s decision to appoint 110 ministers drew intense criticism from civil society organizations and opposition parties, who questioned how such a large cabinet aligned with his pledge to “protect the public purse”.

In response to the mounting criticism, President Akufo-Addo staunchly defended his decision, arguing: “I’m aware that people are concerned about what they see as maybe the cost of this large government.

It is a necessary investment to make for the rapid transformation of this country,” he said, and added that ministers “are coming to work, it is not going to be a holiday.”

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The sharp contrast between Bawumia’s stance and Akufo-Addo’s actions raises questions about whether Bawumia had ever advised the president to reduce the size of his government or if he simply learned from its inefficiencies.

It’s plausible that Bawumia’s divergence from Akufo-Addo’s approach reflects a recognition of the drawbacks of an excessively large cabinet and a desire to pursue a more streamlined and efficient system of governance. Whether Bawumia directly advocated for a smaller government within Akufo-Addo’s administration or drew lessons from its perceived shortcomings remains a subject for speculation.

NATIONAL SERVICE SCHEME

The National Service program in Ghana is a mandatory one-year service for all citizens, established in 1973 and now governed by Act 426 of 1980. Its objectives are straightforward: to instill a sense of national duty across Ghanaian society, provide crucial services and amenities, especially in rural areas, and develop skilled manpower through practical training.

Recently, President Akufo-Addo launched a policy document aiming to transition the National Service Secretariat into an Authority, offering youth greater opportunities for national service.

Despite President Akufo-Addo’s efforts to reform the program, Vice President Bawumia’s proposal of an optional national service policy has stirred debate among stakeholders. Some speculate whether Bawumia’s proposal stems from political motives, or if Akufo-Addo’s initial policy launch was merely symbolic.

Did Bawumia advise Akufo-Addo to make National Service optional, or did he conceive the idea upon becoming the New Patriotic Party’s flagbearer?

However, it’s noteworthy that political rivals former President Mahama and President Nana Akufo-Addo have found common ground on maintaining national service as compulsory.

EXCAVATOR BROUHAHA

President Akufo-Addo on Wednesday, 26th May 2021, stated firmly that anyone who has a problem with his approach (ceasing and burning of excavators) that he employed to combat the galamsey menace should battle it out in court.

“I know there are some who believe that the ongoing exercise of ridding our water bodies and forest zones of harmful equipment and machinery is unlawful and in some cases harsh.”

“I strongly disagree, and I will advise those who take a contrary view to go to court to vindicate their position if they so wish. That is what the rule of law is all about,” Akufo-Addo said.

Three years later, Vice President Bawumia publicly expressed his disagreement with President Akufo-Addo. He pledged to establish a mineral development bank to provide funding for mining activities and assured miners that the practice of burning their seized excavators would end.

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Speaking to his party supporters after a walk in Kwahu, he stated, “We are going to help small-scale miners; we will introduce a mineral development bank to secure funding for them. Under the new regime for small-scale miners, we will not burn your seized excavators.”

E-LEVY

In May 2022, the government of Ghana implemented a controversial tax on mobile money transactions, known as the e-levy. This new tax policy led to significant discord among the members of parliament, resulting in heated debates and physical altercations.

The e-levy was introduced as a means to generate additional revenue for the government. Supporters of the levy, primarily from the Majority, argued that the tax was necessary to improve public services, infrastructure, and reduce the national debt. They contended that the growing use of mobile money in financial transactions represented a substantial and untapped source of revenue.

On the other hand, the Minority strongly opposed the e-levy, arguing that it would disproportionately affect low-income individuals who rely on mobile money for everyday transactions.

They expressed concerns that the tax could discourage the use of mobile money services, undermine financial inclusion efforts, and place an undue financial burden on the poor.

The intense disagreement between the two sides resulted in physical confrontations and disruptions during parliamentary sessions. The debate over the e-levy highlighted the deep political divisions and differing economic philosophies within the Ghanaian parliament.

Despite the opposition, the government proceeded with the implementation of the e-levy, emphasizing its importance for the country’s fiscal health and development goals.

The President while delivering the keynote address at the 2022 National Labour Conference at Kwahu-Nkwatia in the Eastern Region explained: “We must provide an opportunity for every Ghanaian to contribute toward nation-building”.

He added, “We cannot continue to live on foreign savings. It is time we accepted the full implications of our goal of ‘Ghana beyond aid’ and design our fiscal profile accordingly”. He added “I believe strongly that it is in the public interest that it should be enacted into law”.

Dr. Bawumia while addressing ministers, leadership of the NPP and party supporters at UPSA in Accra, says he opposes tax on electronic financial transaction and will abolish E-levy when he is elected president.

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But even before that, he had clearly stated on Peace FM that mobile money money tax will affect digitization agenda of government. He said “My view is that we should not tax mobile money because a lot of the people who are using mobile money transactions are very poor…”

Dr. Bawumia kept his silence and his government passed the e levy. It was clear that he did not agree with the President Akufo Addo and Former Finance Minister Ken Ofori- Atta but did not want to contradict them. While his personal stance on the e-levy remained undisclosed, his choice not to voice opposition suggested a complex balance between personal beliefs and political loyalty.

But as flagbearer of the party, he said “to move towards a cashless economy however, we have to encourage the population to use electronic channels payment.

To accomplish this, there will be no taxes on digital payments under my administration. The e-levy will therefore, be abolished”

OTHER TAXES

The Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2023 (Act 1094) introduces a withholding tax of 10% on all winnings from betting, lottery, and games of chance, applied at the point of payout.

This new tax initiative has faced criticism from the younger generation in Ghana, who argue that betting and lottery winnings often serve as alternative income sources for the unemployed. However, the state remained adamant about its implementation.

In an address launching his campaign dubbed “Bawumia Speaks,” Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia made numerous promises, including a pledge to remove certain tax policies. He specifically mentioned plans to eliminate the betting tax, the emissions tax, and the 15% VAT on electricity.

The Emissions Levy Act, 2023 (Act 1112) imposes an emissions levy on carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from specified sectors and internal combustion engine vehicle emissions.

Many have argued that Bawumia’s “new vision” does not mean that he is criticizing his boss. But the apparent divergence between the Vice President and the President on these key issues calls into question the coherence of the administration’s governance.

President Akufo-Addo has frequently stated that he seeks Dr. Bawumia’s advice on major decisions, portraying a collaborative leadership dynamic.

Yet, the fundamental differences in their policy approaches suggest otherwise, casting doubt on the extent of their alignment and mutual influence.

 

 

Source: starrfm.com.gh

Mr Riddims

Mr Riddims, CEO of Riddims Ghana Network who is a Blogger | Artiste Promoter | Website Designer | Radio DJ | Artiste Manager | Music Distributer etc.

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