Ghana Politics

‘We’ve cleared Mahama’s GHS1.2bn NHIS debt; clearing his energy legacy debt, too’

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Eugene Arhin is the Director of Communications at the Jubilee House

The Akufo-Addo government has said it is “engaged in paying up the energy legacy debts inherited from the Mahama government and we have cleared the GHS1.2-billion-cedi NHIS debt we inherited”.

This was said by the Director of Communications at the Jubilee House, Mr Eugene Arhin on Thursday, 11 November 2021 when he briefed the presidential press corps.

At the same event, Mr Arhin also said the “high fuel prices” and “rising cost of living” currently being experienced by Ghanaians are not a “Ghanaian phenomenon”.

“They are the order of the day across the globe, unfortunately”, he told the press corps.

Mr Arhin said, “just as every country is confronted with these challenges – difficult, if I may say, largely as a result of the impact of COVID-19 – Ghana, under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is making every effort through the Ghana CARES Obaatanpa programme to alleviate the hardships brought forth by the pandemic”.

Now, he noted, “it is important to say that the Akufo-Addo government will continue to work for the development of Ghana and help improve the living standards of all Ghanaians”.

He said “far from” claims that the government is out of touch with the suffering of the people, “this government is highly focused on delivering its mandate”.

Fuel prices have been rising steadily, with a litre of petrol now selling at GHS6.9.

This has had a cascading effect on the price of items on the market.

Commercial driver unions recently threatened to ground their vehicles if the government did not scrap or reduce some of the 18 different taxes and levies imposed on petroleum products.

Meanwhile, Bolgatanga Central MP Isaac Adongo has told commercial drivers in the country not to keep their hopes up because the government will not reduce taxes on petroleum products in the 2022 budget as they expect to be done.

Speaking to this on the Class Morning Show (CMS) on Class91.3FM on Thursday, 11 November 2021, Mr Adongo said the transport operators should forget about the reduction in petroleum products because the government needs the taxes to service the country’s debts due to economic mismanagement by the Akufo-Addo-led government.

The lawmaker told show host Kofi Oppong Asamoah: “Unfortunately, I’ve bad news for the unions saying they should reduce taxes; it is not going to be possible for these people.”

He explained: “The Energy Sector Levy Act (ESLA) proceeds, which represent some of the taxes on petroleum products which were instituted to try and deal with the legacy debt in the power sector, unfortunately, over the last couple of years, those proceeds, for the next 10, 15 years, have been mortgaged to raise an ESLA bond.

“So, when you and I break our back and pay so much at the pump, pay high petroleum prices, what we are not told is that we are paying those taxes so that the government can go and service the debt and leave the debt hanging for future generations to pay”, he explained.

He continued: “Because these are covenants enshrined in the prospectus and agreements that the government signed with investors and gain projections on how future flow from this tax would be used to service the debt, they cannot take it off”.

“So, you see where Akufo-Addo and his people have locked us in? Into a ditch that even if Ghanaians are crying and we need to find a solution to deal with them, again, we don’t have the buffers to do it”.

“The fiscal buffer is gone because it has become crystalised as an obligation of the state to continue to collect that money in order that it does not default in the service of those ESLA debts”.

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