This President Akufo-Addo led NPP government’s e-levy policy which is being forced down the throat of Ghanaians reminds me of my days in the village of Leklebi Duga in the Volta Region of Ghana.
I remember in the early 90s, our neighbor had resolved to kill his pregnant dog called “Kanuyadi” – meaning, ‘to what will I give an excuse’ but did know not how to kill it: to sell it to the dog meat-eaters (Kabletowo), to poison it or to shoot it and throw it away. No matter the form, Kanuyadi must go.
This man was also wondering if he could allow the pregnant dog to deliver its babies first before killing it or killed it with the pregnancy, meanwhiles, he badly needed the puppies because the male dog that mated his female dog was a smart, sharp and brave hunter hence there was a high possibility the puppies could take after their father.
I was in my 13s, a child hunter, and could not understand why my friend’s grandfather wanted to that dog I like so much to go, so I took a brave decision to confront the man – the owner of the dog to ask him why he wanted Kanuyadi to go.
To my surprise the man told me he wanted to kill Kanuyadi because anytime she delivers babies, no matter how well you feed her, she will always eat up all her babies before the fourth week. According to him, Kanuyadi had delivered on three occasions already but had eaten all its babies and non is left to show as fruits of her womb.
Later, I will tell what happened to Kanuyadi but I share this brief story with you to put my opinion on the e-levy into the right perspective.
I am of the strong view that the President Akufo-Addo-Bawumia-NPP led government is behaving like that dog, Kanuyadi which eats up all its babies after delivery.
A classical example is e-levy which I believe will kill the digital economy, Vice President Bawumia is championing and touting it as one of the biggest achievements of the NPP. In the opposition days, Dr. Bawumia was named Ghana’s economic Wizkid but today, in government he is a digital Wizkid who also believes MoMo must not be taxed because most users are poor.
The digital economy
The NPP government undoubtedly had continued and improved upon Ghana’s digital transformation drive notable is the Mobile Money Interoperability which allows Ghanaians to transfer mobile money across all networks and allows mobile money users to send money directly and instantly to any bank account using their mobile money platforms. This also helps bankers and mobile money users to transfer funds from their bank accounts to mobile money accounts and vice versa.
The platform also gives mobile money users the ability to buy or send call credit directly to mobile numbers across all network platforms.
What this means is that it helps improve productivity as it drastically reduces the cost of banking and time spent on banking. A time you may spend in the past just to send money to a customer or service provider can now be used to do another work.
Unlike before, if you want to send even GH¢200 to a bank account linked to your visa or MasterCard to help you perform an urgent online transaction, it means you have to take car, be in long traffic, be in long cue at the bank to have that single transaction is done which can take you not less than an hour.
In the past, if you needed to send an amount below GH¢10,000 to anyone through the bank, you will have to drive or travel to the bank.
Today, there is an instant interbank transfer of funds that have in reducing the cost of doing business and the risk of carrying cash.
The mobile money acceptability is in the Ghanaians economy has come to stay until the arrival of the killer e-levy. Taxi drivers, fuel stations, restaurants, barbers, delivery businesses, hospitals, kenkey sellers, foodstuff sellers, and all other small businesses are all accepting mobile money payments.
Purchases of utility are also now done online aided by mobile apps with mobile money and cards integrations.
This is a push that can create a lot of businesses. For example, any IT company can create a platform like www.senyomart.com to help other small businesses to sell their products online the public buy and pay with MoMo and cards which will help reduce the cost of doing business. But any tax that seeks to discourage customers from buying products and paying online will kill those businesses.
Why will any innovative and forward-looking government introduce a tax that will discourage people from using these mediums for payment?
The Ecommerce industry:
President Akufo-Addo in his interview with BBC’s Peter Okwoche said the e-levy is not a tax on the already impoverished people but a tax on the industry. This statement from the President shows clearly that either he has no clue of what the e-levy means or he just burnt on dodging the questions to further expose and ridicule him on the program.
Taxing the e-commerce industry is not the same as the e-levy which imposes 1.5% on Mobile Money and Bank transfers.
If the government actually is innovative enough and wants to grow the digital economy, what they ought to have done is to create the enabling platforms and systems to encourage more businesses to accept digital payments to help them even track the revenue of those businesses hence taxing on their incomes.
What the government ought to have done is encourage more entrepreneurs to help develop applications and platforms that facilitate digital payment systems so that the services charges collected from their users can now be taxed.
You don’t tax transfers that are monies not are even for the sender and or money that has already been taxed in the case of payment of salaries.
Why should a loan I secured that is being transferred to me be taxed? Why should the money I am sending to my sick relative be taxed? Why should I be taxed for giving money to someone to start a business?
Once the government does not back down on the e-levy thing, the Ghanaians’ digital economy will collapse which is like the village dog which gives birth and eats up its children.
By: Efo Korsi Senyo,
Investigaive Jounalist and IT Entrepernuer