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Bawumia unveils ‘Next Chapter’ vision: Private sector to power projects – E-Levy will be abolished

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The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has stated that if given the chance to govern the country, he will leverage the power of the private sector to execute many public projects in order to reduce the financial burden on the government. 

That approach would underpin his government’s major goal of attaining and sustaining macroeconomic stability with low inflation, low interest rates, exchange rate stability and low budget deficits.

Addressing party faithful at a forum to outline his vision as a presidential hopeful, the flag bearer of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) said “my government will reduce the fiscal burden on government by leveraging the private sector.

“My administration will incentivise the private sector to complement government in the provision of many infrastructure and other services to reduce government expenditure and improve maintenance,” he stated yesterday in the evening at the event dubbed “Bawumia Speaks” at the auditorium of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA).

It was on the theme: “Ghana’s next chapter: Selfless leadership and Bold Solutions for the future.”

Vice-President Bawumia said the private sector would be encouraged to build roads, schools, hostels and houses for the government to rent or lease to own.

He said the demand for the construction of roads was massive and that had historically placed a huge burden on the budget and, therefore, expressed the belief that the private sector should finance the construction and maintenance of roads through public, private partnership (PPP) concession arrangements.

The Vice-President said his government would also move towards leasing rather than purchasing vehicles, printing equipment and so on, so that the private sector would be responsibile for maintaining the equipment.

“With this approach, the budget can save very significant outright cash expenditure annually from various items across different ministries, departments and agencies.

This policy will energise the private sector and create many jobs,” Dr Bawumia said to cheers from the packed auditorium of UPSA. 

Fewer ministers

Dr Bawumia said the move towards the private sector providing many public services would create fiscal space of at least three per cent of GDP.

He said an efficient system of governance would also require even fewer ministers, saying: “Therefore, I would have no more than 50 ministers and deputy ministers.” 

New tax system

The Vice-President said there was also the need to increase tax revenue and that required reforms and refocusing the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) towards broadening the tax base.

Dr Bawumia, who is also an economist and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, decried the pressure placed on GRA staff to collect revenues which made them focus on existing taxpayers, including going to sit in shops to monitor sales.

“This has to stop,” the NPP flag bearer stressed, adding that “we must strike the right balance between collecting revenue and allowing businesses to thrive. Our job is to protect the productive forces”.

The Vice-President cited studies suggesting that revenues amounting to 13 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or $24 billion as of last year were not collected because people were outside the tax net.

“Collecting even half of or a quarter of this annually will be a game-changer for public finances,” Dr Bawumia said, stressing the need to inculcate and enforce a culture of people filing their tax returns.

 “Incentives must be provided to encourage people to file their tax returns even if they will pay zero taxes.

We need a fresh start,” he stated. 

The NPP flag bearer said his administration would introduce a very simple, citizen and business-friendly flat tax regime, adding that he would provide a tax amnesty to individuals and businesses for failing to file taxes in previous years so that everyone would start afresh.

 Dr Bawumia said his government would then digitalise the payment of taxes across all categories, where all individuals and companies would be required to file a very simple tax return electronically through their mobile phone or computer, among other tax policies. 
 

Vision

Outlining the vision, Dr Bawumia said as Vice-President, “I am like a driver’s mate but if, by the grace of God, you make me President, I will be in the driver’s seat with constitutionally mandated authority to pursue my vision and my priorities.”

In that regard, “I have been engaged in a lot of consultation and doing a lot of thinking in the last few months about lessons of the last seven years as well as my vision and priorities as I seek to become President of the Republic of Ghana,” he said.

Clearly, the initial conditions that the government inherited in 2017 were not the same as would be in 2025, he added.

“Therefore, my priorities will be different.

We have done many good things and I will be seeking to build on them.

“My vision is to create a tent big enough to accommodate all our people, to tap into the resourcefulness and talents of our people irrespective of our different ethnic, political and religious backgrounds; to channel our energies into building the kind of country that assures a food self-sufficient, safe, prosperous and dignified future for all Ghanaians; to create sustainable jobs with meaningful pay for all, and for Ghana to participate fully in the fourth industrial revolution using systems and data,” Dr Bawumia declared.

To realise his vision, the Vice-President said Ghanaians must have a mindset of possibilities and not impossibilities, pointing out that the challenges “we must overcome as a country were too important to let our political differences derail us.”

He said there was a critical failure of mindset that manifested itself in the absence of core values, patriotism and principles within the society which required the invigoration of the can-do spirit of the Ghanaian to believe that “we can even do better than we ever imagined if we put our minds to it”, citing the Mamfe Methodist Girls Senior High School and Prempeh College winning international robotic competitions against their peers in the US, Germany and South Korea as examples of positive mindsets. 

Digital economy

Veering onto his main task of building a digital economy which he had been championing in the last seven years, Dr Bawumia reiterated that he would build a Ghana which would leverage technology, data and systems for inclusive economic growth.

“I want us to apply digital technology, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), robotics and artificial intelligence for the transformation of agriculture, healthcare, education, manufacturing, Fintech and public service delivery.

“As part of this process it is my goal to eliminate the digital divide by achieving close to 100 per cent internet penetration,” the Vice-President stated.

Vice-President Bawumia said he would want to see Ghana build the digital talent the country required for the fourth industrial revolution.

In collaboration with the private sector, he said, his administration would train at least a million youth in information technology skills, including software developers to provide job opportunities worldwide.

Generally, he said, there would be an enhanced focus on TVET education while his government would also support the establishment of a Ghana National Open University in collaboration with the private sector with a focus on technical and vocational skills and ICT.

E-levy to be abolished

Dr Bawumia said to move towards a cashless economy the population needed to be encouraged to use electronic channels of payment, and to accomplish that, he stressed “The e-levy will, therefore, be abolished”.

The NPP flag bearer said the digital version of the Ghana cedi, the central bank digital currency (CBDC) or e-cedi, which was being piloted by the Bank of Ghana, would be the ultimate weapon in the fight against corruption.

That was because the e-cedi would provide transparency, reduce the risk of fraud, robbery, tax avoidance, and money laundering since it would be easy to track its movement and identify suspicious activity. 

Cost of living

Dr Bawumia also touched on cost of living and said a major priority of his government would be to reduce it, as the situation had increased five-fold across the world following the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.

The way to go was to tackle agriculture, energy, housing and transport prices, which he would deliver.

“I want a Ghana where we attain food security through the application of technology and irrigation to commercial large-scale farming.

We will also promote the use of agricultural lime to reduce the acidity of our soils, enhance soil fertility and get more yield from the application of fertilisers.

“Ghana has an abundance of limestone to do this. I will prioritise the construction of the Pwalugu Dam by using private sector financing to crowd in grant financing,” he stated.

Dr Bawumia also shared his vision to reduce the cost of public transportation by between 30 and 40 per cent with the adoption of electric vehicles, the introduction of a housing for all policy, the achievement of energy self-sufficiency at reduced cost through renewables; implementing policies to maximise benefits from natural resources of the country and increasing the country’s gold reserves at the central bank combined with prudent fiscal policies.

Fighting corruption

On how he intends to fight corruption through digitalisation, the NPP flag bearer said: “I entered politics to serve the nation.

My passion is solving problems. My passion is helping the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged in society.”

Therefore, he said, accumulation of wealth was not and had never been his passion or ambition and it was for that reason that throughout his public life he had pursued policies, especially through digitalisation, to check corruption in places such as the ports, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), NHIS, Passport Office, and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.”

“So, I have a solid track record in fighting corruption and I have earned a reputation for doing so,” Dr Bawumia stated.

Source: Graphic Online