Bawumia’s Galamsey promise & Otumfuo’s tiles

Bawumia’s Galamsey promise & Otumfuo’s tiles

I will believe it if someone tells me that Vice-President Bawumia has never seen the colour of Rivers Pra, Birim etc since 2017. To promise galamsey operators that “I won’t burn your excavators when I am elected President” is the equivalent of the fox in the cartoon promising a flock of chickens that “I will be a vegetarian when I am elected President”. 

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Did Akufo Addo ever give the go-ahead for excavator burning? Bawumia’s promise implies that the President has been wrong all along! Has Bawumia indeed been so helpless all these eight years?

I am sympathetic to the NPP’s plight that the anti-galamsey war cost it votes in 2020, but I will pooh-pooh on any promise intended to mollify these criminal elements. It is anti-Ghanaian. Where I powerful, I would campaign for a law that forbids any politician from making any pronouncements amounting to an apology to and pacification of the illegal gold diggers.

Mineral Bank

Addressing NPP supporters at a health walk at Kwahu on March 30, Dr Bawumia said rather than seize and burn excavators, “we are going to help small-scale miners by introducing a mineral development bank to get money for them.” 

Ha-ba! Sounds like promising snow to the inhabitants of the Eastern Antarctic Plateau, with temperatures as low as -94°C. Who said these greedy galamseyers needed credit?

More later.

Countrymen, I have lauded and will continue to laud Otumfuo Osei Tutu II’s interventions in education. The Otumfuo Educational Foundation has sent to school hundreds of brilliant needy Ghanaians (both Ashantis and non-Ashantis) who would otherwise be illiterates today. 

His latest, the Heal Okomfo Anokye Project, part of His Majesty’s 25th Anniversary Legacy Projects, is to address urgently needed infrastructure needs in the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH).

The $10 million project, however, is facing a setback due to challenges in clearing essential items from the port.

According to graphic.com.gh, a consignment of imported tiles crucial for the project has been held up at the Tema Harbour. To release the 10 containers of tiles, the project is required to pay over GH¢1.7 million in duties. According to Samuel Adu-Boakye, Chairman of the project, pleas for a waiver have not yielded any results.

To Ghana, Asanteman, the Komfo Anokye Hospital, Otumfuo, my sympathies.

Nonetheless, a question begs for an answer: why import tiles when there are more than 10 companies in Ghana that manufacture tiles?

Some of the local manufacturers produce and export tiles of all hues. In capacity, some produce an average of seven million square meters of porcelain and ceramic tiles per annum. 

Gifts

Reading all the press statements issued so far, I don’t find anywhere that says the Heal Komfo Anokye tiles are a gift, in which case Manhyia may have had no say in the matter: the donor if there is, may have decided to procure them overseas or the consignment may have been a gift from a tile factory.

If none of the above scenarios is at play, then I propose that we could have boosted local production, leading to jobs for Ghanaian youth and profit to local investors, if the tiles had been procured locally.   

A painful reminder of Ghana’s Parliament importing swivel chairs from China in 2014.

Having said all of the above, I don’t think it is good economic policy to slap duty on products which are not for private use but are for use on a crucial public project which is the responsibility of the government, in the first place, and for which the government would have committed millions, if not billions of cedis in the budget.  

Stuck, almost cursed, with an economy in which the government is indebted in nearly every statutory payment, only with our imagination can any Ghanaian predict when the state would have found the money to do what Otumfuo is doing. 

The same applies to the US$40 million worth of healthcare items donated by the Global Fund. They have been detained at the Tema port since May 2023 for non-payment of taxes. The items include critically needed antiretrovirals for HIV patients, TB medications and malaria treatments. More than 250,000 individuals living with HIV depend on these Global Fund-sponsored ARVs.

A board member of the Global Fund says the drugs are expiring at the harbour. 

Meanwhile, what some of us feared most has happened. The Global Fund has halted the shipment of crucial medical supplies to Ghana.
It is difficult to understand the logic of a tax policy that blocks the availability of FREE drugs to patients in a country that cannot either produce the drugs itself or dip into its scarce resources to import them. 

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Someone should explain to us the basis for the generous tax waivers being enjoyed by some companies in this same Ghana. Is it a question of “four legs good”? 

Without an official presser, it is very difficult to understand.

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