Pulse Review The controversial tow levy brouhaha and Mac Manu's "back to sender"

Here's a look behind the week’s news.

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play Peter Mac Manu
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Opposition lawmakers were not particularly happy at the start of last week. Their first boiling point was when the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta came to parliament to present the mid-year 2017 budget review.

Mr Ofori Atta told parliament that despite inheriting a bad economy from the past administration, things are stabilizing. He stressed that the macro-economic indicators for the first half of the year are pointing in the right direction.

“…We replaced the 17.5% standard rate to a 3% flat rate. We reduced the special petroleum tax from 17.5 to 15% and abolished duties on spare parts.

“The deficit on commitment basis is now on 10.9%, up from the previous 10.3%,” the minister said.

play Ken Ofori Atta

 

READ ALSO: Asempa budget is now asembone budget - Minority

But the minority MPs would have none of that. To them, the minister was only doctoring figures to make the government’s performance look good, a claim the government has vehemently denied.

play Cassiel Ato Forson is a former deputy Finance Minister

 

But whether the figures were cooked or not, what matters to the ordinary Ghanaian is how those figures will reflect in their pockets, and put food on their tables.

Nevertheless, the issue that should perhaps matter to the government is how it will meet its revenue targets for the financial year 2017, as many economists feel it would not be able to do so.

The government is putting some restraints on spending, but this may also have some implications on its “big” projects of government, namely the free SHS, one district one factory, one village one dam, among others. Such projects may suffer as a result of the cut in expenditure.

And the governance of the country may also suffer if steps are not taken to quickly resolve what seems to be a rift between the Speaker and minority MPs.

The minority has since last two weeks been accusing the Speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye of being bias against them and not allowing them to air their views during discussions on national issues in the House.

play Mike Oquaye

 

READ ALSO: Minority walks out over Ameri deal

Last week was no exception, as the situation got out of hands when the opposition MPs staged a walk out over deliberations on the AMERI deal. Some might say the minority MPs overreacted.

But all the same, we must not allow this to continue. The leadership of the House must sit up and resolve this, else the situation is going to get worse when parliament reconvenes. And what will be the consequence? We are not going to have any serious representation in parliament.

play Ghana's parliament

 

But before parliament went on recess last week, it took a very controversial decision on the nationwide towing programme which has since got many Ghanaians fuming.

In spite of public backlash over the implementation of a mandatory towing levy since June this year, the parliamentary select Committee on Roads and Transport okayed it last week, saying that the initiative will be good for the country considering the spate of accidents.

READ ALSO: COPEC to hit the streets over controversial towing levy

But this justification does not hold. Come on! We already have a law which says that District Assemblies all over the country are enjoined to tow all broken down vehicles on our roads at a fee. There is even a penalty for leaving vehicles or trailers on the roads. So why won’t the government enforce that law, but will rather charge Ghanaians to pay an extra levy towards that regard.

play There is already a penalty for leaving vehicles or trailers on the roads

 

This situation whereby government try all sort of means to double-cross citizens cannot be allowed to continue. How much does the ordinary Ghanaian even earn to be wasting them away in the form of levies to solve a problem whose solution already exist.

And the fact that the owners of the company at the centre of this whole programme are believed to be behind the companies in the SUBAH and SADA scandals which cost the nation about 1 billion dollars, is worrying.

How did the government and parliament even conclude that this particular company – Road Safety Management Company Limited – is the only company in the world that can deliver towing services in the country.

Well, the Ministry of Transport on Friday came out to say that it had not yet taken any decision on the implementation of the programme. Still, scores of Ghanaians are wide awake and have instituted moves and campaigns, particularly, on social media to get everyone to resist the levy.

READ ALSO: Fight for independence started before Nkrumah: Mike Oquaye

Attempts to even take the minds of people off the topic with some backs and forth over who the founder of Ghana is or whether Dr Kwame Nkrumah won any presidential election did not wash.

play Kwame Nkrumah

 

The ordinary Ghanaian is fully charged and will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the deal does not see the light of the day.

And to cap it all for the week, Peter Mac Manu was on Sunday denied entry into Kenya to monitor the upcoming polls.

play Peter Mac Manu

 

READ ALSO: NPP blasts Kenya government over Mac Manu saga

He was leading a team of election observers from the Democratic Union of Africa to observe the election process and to share some ideas. But he did not formally disembark from the plane and he was deported.

The governing NPP has since expressed disappointment over the incident. But whichever way you look at it, it is their country and it is their election. They have the right to determine who comes in to monitor happenings. It is an accepted norm in diplomacy. Nevertheless, may the best candidate win.

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