The managing editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, has said that he has been left dumbfounded by the fact that his government will be the one to increase the rate of Value Added Tax (VAT).
He said that he cannot believe that after leading members of this government, including President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, led a demonstration against the introduction of VAT in 1995, it (the government) will be the one to increase the tax to over 20 percent.
Speaking in a Peace FM interview monitored by GhanaWeb, Pratt asked how the president is going to justify the increase in the VAT rate to the families of people who lost their lives when they joined him to protest the introduction of VAT during the ‘Kumepreko’ demonstration in 1995.
“In 1995, I was part of the people who organised a massive demonstration in Accra and Kumasi and the reason for the demonstration was that VAT was a regressive tax. Dr Wereko Brobby wrote the statement for the demonstration, and our president today, Nana Akufo-Addo, was the one who read it.
“We said the VAT is a regressive tax and we would not accept it, and we fought the government. A lot of people died during the demonstration. I saw one guy on the high street at the Bank of Ghana who had one of his eyes completely removed from the socket.
“God willing, some of the people who took part in the demonstration are now in government, and they have rather increased the tax to over 20 percent. How can we justify this? What benefit has come from the death of Awonu Onga,” he said in Twi.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, during the presentation of the 2023 budget on Thursday, November 24, announced an increment in VAT by 2.5 percent for consumers of goods and services.
The move, according to the minister, is expected to improve the government’s domestic revenue measures while seeking to reach an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal to restore macroeconomic stability.
“Mr. Speaker, we will undertake the following actions, initiatives, and interventions under the seven-point agenda. To aggressively mobilize domestic revenue, we will among others: Increase the VAT rate by 2.5 percent to directly support our roads and digitalization agenda; Fast-track the implementation of the Unified Property Rate Platform programme in 2023,” he said
The Kumepreko demonstration in 1995 is regarded as the biggest demonstration to have occurred in Ghana’s history.
Those at the forefront of this protest were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Dr Charles Wereko Brobbey, Kwasi Pratt Jnr, Dr Nayarko Tamakloe, Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako, Akoto Ampaw, Victor Newman, Kwaku Opoku, Napoleon Abdulai and was also joined by some 100,000 people.
What was termed the “high cost of living” and, particularly, the imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on items, fuelled the demonstration against the then Rawlings administration.
Watch the interview below: