GRA to chase MAHAMA for tax on GHC420K fundraising?

Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has signalled its plan to enforce gifts tax in Ghana, beginning from former President Mahama’s 600,000 Ghana cedis funds he raised from donations and gifts from National Democratic Congress sympathizers countrywide, MyNewsGh.com has learnt.

An enquiry by our Business Desk on rumours regarding such a move revealed that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) intends to strictly enforce the 15% gifts tax rate on any gift valued at GH¢50 and above, an official of GRA told MyNewsGh.com.

The amendment of the VAT Act 810 increased the gifts tax from 5% to 15% and made it mandatory for GRA to charge it on gifts received from loved ones.

Peter A. Williams, a certified tax consultant defined a gift “as a thing given willingly to someone without payment. A gift is also defined to mean a receipt without consideration or for inadequate consideration.

According to Ali-Nakyea in his book Taxation in Ghana, There are two distinctions of gifts under the Internal Revenue Act, Act 592 section 8(3) and under section 105 of the same Act.

Gift under section 8(3) arise out of one’s employment relationship, donated by the employer, an associate of the employer or a third party under an arrangement with the employer or an associate of the employer, whereas gifts under section 105 are taxable gifts as provided by the law.

The tax payable on gifts under section 8(3) is at a graduated rate that is added to the employee’s income and taxed appropriate like PAYE, whereas that under section 105 is taxed at 15%.

Under section 8(3), the whole amount of the gift is taxable whereas that of section 105 is not taxable where it does not exceed GHS 50.00. It is only the excess amount that is taxable.

Mahama, Kufuor and Rawlings all eligible to contest for President – Dr Oduro Osae

A lawyer and governance expert, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, has said his reading of the law makes it clear to him that ex-Presidents John Mahama, John Kufuor and John Rawlings can all contest for the high office of the land.

Dr Oduro Osae says the six months administration led by Mr Mahama prior to contesting in the 2012 general elections was not part of his term but rather a continuation of Late President John Mills’ term.

His comments come on the back of moves by the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Bernard Antwi-Boasiako, to block former President John Mahama from seeking another term in office.

Mr Mahama lost 2016 elections to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo but is taking steps to recapture power in 2020.

Mr Antwi-Boasiako, who popularly known as ‘Chairman Wontumi’, said on Adom FM’s current affairs show, Burning Issues on Monday, December 10 that “John Mahama has already served two terms in office per the 1992 Constitution and serving another term in office will make it his third which contravenes the law.”

But commenting on the issue on the same show, Dr Oduro Osae explained that ex-President Mahama can run for two other terms according to the Constitution, adding that even former Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor can also run for President because since they left office, two terms of Presidency have elapsed.

Dr Oduro Osae, who is also the Dean of Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), further explained that a break in the two terms renders the earlier term obsolete giving the former Presidents the opportunity to restart the two terms all over.

“If today we vote and he [Mr Mahama] wins and he comes, he can spend the four years and come for reelection for another term because there was a break in the term and that’s what we have to take a critical look at in our Constitution.

“And it is not in the Constitution that after serving two terms, you cannot contest again so people were suggesting for interpretation from the Supreme Court if former Presidents Kufuor and Rawlings can come back to contest. [This is] because the Constitution says you cannot go for more than two terms but [it] does not debar a President who has served his two terms of office from contesting in any future date,” he averred.

Chairman Wontumi, however, insists he will subsequently petition Parliament and the Electoral Commission to urge them to prevent Mr Mahama from seeking another term in office and also proceed to the Supreme Court for interpretation of that section of the law.

Omane Boamah writes: Deliver us from drones that can drown Ghanaians

In mid-2008, I was on night duty at the 37 Military Hospital, a United Nations Level IV Facility. I was called in the dead of night to the Anoff Ward to attend to a very young male patient who was at the point of death.

The patient had developed complications as a result of blood transfusion that had gone wrong and was ‘drowning’ in fluids, and this ward did not have the requisite functioning equipment to save him. Not even a quick sprint to the nearby Tamakloe ward to find a functioning equipment to save him worked.

He eventually died in theatre. Although so many years have passed since the incident, I still feel the pain of his avoidable death. The rest of the story is history, but the lesson remains that administering blood transfusion is not a simple affair; it is a critical process that can be life-threatening even in specialised health facilities.

Fast forwarding to a decade later – on Saturday 8th December 2018 – I heard the Director General of the Ghana Health Service on the radio. He was passionately employing both Task Shifting and the need for urgent blood transfusion during emergencies in less resourced health facilities to justify the controversial decision to spend a whopping US$ 12 million on drone services in Ghana. So far, little has been said about the implications for aviation.

Ordinarily, I would have let this slip by but how can a ‘citizen not a spectator’ look on unconcerned as human lives are to be experimented on when a stupendous amount of US$ 12 million is to be spent when the justification being adduced is crooked? It appears the more government commentators speak to this drone matter, the more the nagging questions emerge. On this occasion task shifting, blood transfusion and implications for aviation emerged.

TASK SHIFTING AND BLOOD TRANSFUSION

Task shifting is great! But task shifting is not new to Ghana and Africa. It is basically the delegation of a task which requires high skills, to an available human resource who have a lower qualification (WHO, 2006; Dovlo, 2004).

Indeed, evidence suggests that task shifting is already being practised successfully in Ghana (McPake and Mensah 2008) and in other African countries (Pereira, 2010; Zacharia et al., 2009; Lehman et al., 2009; Mullan and Frehywot, 2007; and Green and Pearson, 2006).

Notwithstanding the successes associated with task shifting with respect to maternal health and HIV/AIDS, in 2008 the World Health Organisation had cause to strongly recommend careful selection of tasks, appropriate roles definition and adequate supervision if task shifting is to succeed without sacrificing standards. This recommendation is appropriate and applies to Ghana if one considers the complexity of some of the tasks involved.

Therefore, when I heard Dr Nsiah Asare, who is the current Director General of the Ghana Health Service include blood transfusion in the list of services to be delivered by the drones in settings where health professionals with the requisite mandate to prescribe blood and blood products will not be available, I shook my head in utter disbelief.

I wondered how a whole Director General of the Ghana Health Service could shockingly approve of such a venture knowing fully well the grave dangers in delivering blood and blood products. Moreover, the Clinical Blood Transfusion Policy of the National Blood Service, Ghana http://nbsghana.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Clinical-Blood-Transfusion-Policy.pdf is explicit on the roles and responsibilities involved in blood transfusion.

I believe it is for a good reason backed by evidence that the policy was structured in that manner.

The framers of the policy must have taken into account: the need for blood tests (grouping and cross-matching with its rare exceptions) required before transfusion; who is qualified to insert the cannula in a vein (venepuncture); and the spectrum of transfusion reactions which can be life-threatening.

However, if we have come to the point where we believe we must satisfy a National Drone Health Service initiative by the President Akufo-Addo government, I strongly recommend we must not put the cart before the horse. The necessary inter-sectoral policy reviews must be done urgently.

But must a review of the blood transfusion policy be driven by this drone-contract and not by evidence and sound emergency health care needs?

I have already shared with you from the outset how a very young male patient lost his dear and promising life as a result of complications from blood transfusion in the midst of inadequate equipment for resuscitation. One can, therefore, extrapolate what the implications would be in the peripheral health facilities which are far less resourced than the 37 Military hospital.

IMPLICATIONS FOR AVIATION

Putting telecommunication and aviation balls in the air and afloat:

Have we considered the implications for the aviation sector when hundreds of drones begin to fly about?

Is the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority equipped to handle the entropy that will affect air traffic control?

In fact, the aviation implications which include the availability of robust low level radar services to avoid conflicts and or collision between helicopters and the drones is real and imminent. It is not for nothing that drones do not work within certain radii around airports unless clearance is given to lift off the restrictive code.

In this drone for emergency health services scenario, we are being told hundreds of drones are going to be flying around. They will certainly interact with domestic flights – particularly helicopters. Therefore, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority ought to be assuring Ghanaians about aviation safety.

CONTEMPT FOR COST-EFFECTIVENESS

I believe a well thought-out emergency health policy will prioritise the well-being of Ghanaians and ensure both economic fairness and cost-effectiveness if the government is to spend this US$12 million.

I am curious to know if the cost involved in this drone deal has been weighed against the benefits, quality and utility of the services that will be rendered? This question does not require the usual flippant answer, “no amount of money can replace a life.” We already know this.

I do not expect Dr. Bawumia and the leadership of the Ghana Health Service, who have been at the forefront of the drone deal to omit the under listed during their feasibility studies:

-Cost-Benefit Analysis;

-Cost Quality Analysis; and

-Cost-Utility Analysis.

Hence it will be worthwhile, if government shared with Ghanaians the report of any such analysis conducted prior to this initiative considering that, there are other acute and critical competing needs in the health sector which require funding.

But if such analyses were not undertaken prior to launching this initiative, then Dr Bawumia (our Vice President), the Ghana Health Service and other proponents of this initiative have done this country a great disservice.

I am not for one moment suggesting a drone delivering health services will be of no benefit. I am only highlighting the critical matter of personnel and equipment needed in administering blood, aviation implications and the efficient and prudent use of the US$12 million if the government had exhaustively diversified its thoughts and consulted broadly.

CONCLUSION: TOO MUCH ZEAL FOR WHAT IS NEW

As our nation broods over this drone deal and many more deals that have passed in the name of technology adoption including the GhanaPost GPS scandal; while not knowing when these technology deals will end under this government, let us reflect on this wise prayer of the renowned physician, Sir Robert Hutchison:

“From inability to let well alone; from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; from putting knowledge before wisdom, science before art, and cleverness before common sense; from treating patients as cases; and from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, Good Lord, deliver us.”

Clearly, the attempt by the Director General of the Ghana Health Service to use emergency blood transfusion within the context of task shifting to justify this drone deal bothers on clutching at straws and shows too much zeal for the new. It, sadly, reveals that the policy was procurement driven instead of programme driven.

Already, a myriad of costing deficiencies has been pointed out by other stakeholders, yet this government is recklessly pursuing the drone deal.

This 12-million-US-dollars drone deal offends many aspects of Hutchison’s admonition. Therefore, Good Lord:

Deliver us from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old;

Deliver us from putting knowledge before wisdom;

Deliver us from putting science before art, and cleverness before common sense; and

Above all, deliver us from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the disease itself.’ Otherwise, this drone deal will drown Ghanaians.

Wontumi to challenge Mahama’s ‘3rd term’ in office as President at Supreme Court

The Ashanti Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Bernard Antwi Boasiako has initiated moves aimed at preventing former President John Dramani Mahama from seeking another term in office.

According to Mr Antwi Boasiako popularly referred to as Chairman Wontumi, Mr Mahama has already served two terms in office in line with what the 1992 constitution prescribes and therefore another term in office would be his third, which he claims was against the constitution.

He has subsequently prepared a petition to be sent to Parliament and the Electoral Commission, to urge the two bodies to prevent Mr Mahama from seeking another term in office.

He has also indicated his readiness to proceed to the Supreme Court for an interpretation.

He told Graphic Online in Kumasi on Sunday that he wants Mr John Dramani Mahama to be declared ineligible to contest the 2020 Presidential elections because it would be in violation of Article 66 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana.

Speaking to Graphic Online’s Kumasi correspondent, Daniel Kenu on Sunday, Mr Antwi Boasiako argued that since Mr Mahama completed the term for late President, John Atta Mills and successfully completed his personal term of four years, he is deemed to have completed his tenure and therefore could not run for the same office again.

He is, therefore going to apply to the Supreme Court for an interpretation to Article 66 of the constitution to help put the matter to rest.

Mr Antwi Boasiako said he was also going to approach former President Jerry John Rawlings for him to pressure Mr Mahama to desist from contesting the next elections on the ticket of any political party including the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

“The state could not continue to spend money on all former presidents only for one (Mahama) to nicodemously sneak out and contest an election on the ticket of a political party,” a part of the petition to Parliament seen by Graphic Online stated.

He insisted that Mr Mahama belonged to the “club of ex- presidents” and it would be wrong for him to be president again.

“If former President Jerry John Rawlings and others do not speak out now, it could prepare the grounds for future chaos. Mr Mahama wants to be the unorthodox type of former president and create confusion for us,” another part of the petition said.

“Indeed, Article 66 of the 1992 constitution states among other things that:

1. A person elected as President shall, subject to clause (3) of this article, hold office for a term of four years beginning from the date on which he is sworn in as president.

2. A person shall not be elected to hold office as president of Ghana for more than two terms.”

Chairman Wontumi quoted the constitution and told Graphic Online that it would be wrong for Mr Mahama to continue to enjoy the privileges of a former president and still contest for that same office for a “third term”.

Government introduces integration project ahead of lifting of ban on small-scale mining

In preparation towards the lifting of the ban on artisanal and small-scale mining operations, the Lands Ministry is planning to roll-out the Multi-Sectoral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP).

Land Minister, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, said the project will hinge on three main pillars: statutory enforcement, social interventions and technological adaptations.

Addressing the media during a Meet The Press session in Accra Tuesday, he noted that “the objectives of the project include to regulate and assist Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASMs) to improve the efficiency of their operations.”

According to him, MMIP is also targeted at ensuring the use of appropriate, safe and affordable technology in small-scale mining.

Again, the minister said it is aimed at developing alternative livelihood projects in mining communities.

“MMIP will train miners on sustainable mining practices and extraction processes as well as ensure stakeholders enforce the law reserving small-scale mining for Ghanaians,” he said.

In August this year, the government announced the roadmap for lifting the ban on artisanal and small-scale mining operations which has been in effect since April 1, 2017.

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In dealing with illegal mining popularly known as galamsey, the government set up, at the level of the Cabinet, an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining.

The Committee, at the commencement of its work, recommended an initial 6-month ban on small-scale mining activities, a request which was assented to by the President.

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The ban has, since then, been extended.

Outlining the roadmap to lifting the ban on ASMs, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh said “although the MMIP has not yet been rolled out, Sustainable Livelihood Programmes (SLP) are being carried out to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of mining on host communities in Dunkwa and its environs.”

He added that “this is to protect the natural habitat from been encroached on by illegal miners. A total of 7,667 acres of oil palm plantation was established in 2017. Also, 1,442 farm families benefitted from the project in 2017.”

According to the Lands Minister, the majority of the beneficiaries are youth and mostly first-time farmers.

“Most of the beneficiaries of the project, notably the youth, are known to have been previously involved in illegal mining activities.

“The youth in the project areas see the intervention as a key source of livelihood and it is hoped that it can be sustained over a longer period,” he said.

NDC race: I didn’t ask anyone to pick forms for me – Bagbin

National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer hopeful Alban Bagbin has dissociated himself from the presidential nomination forms picked on his behalf.

“I’m not associated with this. It’s not on my authority and I disregard it,” the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament told Starr News after the forms were picked in his name by some of his constituents led by David Dzawara Baya.

Maintaining that the rush to pick the nomination forms by his colleague flagbearer hopeful is a nullity, Mr. Bagbin told Starr Today’s Atiewin Mbillah Lawson that: “I’m surprised to hear this. I have not authorized any individual or group of people to pick form in my name.”

Picking forms illegal

According to Mr. Bagbin, the failure of the newly elected national executives of the NDC to consult the party’s Council of Elders in deciding the guidelines for the flagbearer contest rendered the entire process illegal.

“We believe that the process that they have put in place is offending a number of our values, principles and even the provisions of our constitution…and so we have put that across and we are awaiting the response of the Council of elders,” he told Starr News’ Regina Borley Bortey earlier Tuesday.

“There’s a legal issue there. A legal issue that we believed has rendered all the process null and void. It is very clear in our constitution that the guidelines for the flagbearership race will have to be done in consultation with the Council of elders.

“We know that. And so, if you don’t do that and you proceed to do what you know is unlawful it means that all that process is null and void.

“And that’s the difficulty in going to pick the forms because we ourselves will be participating in an unlawful process. That’s the main reason why I am not picking the forms,” he added.

Meanwhile, Stephen Atubiga and Sylvester Mensah have also picked forms to contest the presidential primaries of the party.

It brings the number of candidates who have so far picked forms to contest the race to five after former President John Mahama and Professor Joshua Alabi picked theirs earlier.

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