Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Anas Video and Corruption at Tema Port in Ghana

Anas, an investigative journalist in Ghana has produced a video which shows massive corruption at Tema Harbor. Among others the video allegedly claim that the corrupt practices has couased the government over $200 million dollars in revenue. In addition, Port officials are engaging in illicit sex with business women in exchange for reduced taxes. In fact this is nothing new, everybody is Ghana knows about the corruption at the Port in Tema. What Anas has done is to provide the incontrovertible evidence that is needed to force politicians and the powers that be to begin to address the issue of institutional corruption at the Tema Harbor and other institutions in the country. 

It is refreshing that the issue of institutional corruption has once again taken the center stage in the public domain. It is only when we discuss these issues and realize how they affect all of us that politicians will compelled into action. However, I am baffled by how some people are trying to justify the rot at the Tema Port. Mr Cudjoe of IMANI, a civil society organization was quoted in the news as saying that “atrocious taxes” are to blame for the rot at the Port. I am particularly troubled by this utterance because it seems to be at variance with the position of Director Cudjoe and IMANI.  I do not see how we can achieve financial self sufficiency and reduce our reliance on foreign aid if we do not take measures to raise revenue locally. 

The efficiency or otherwise of government tax policy is a different issue all together and we can debate the efficacy of these government policies. However, it is very irresponsible to use a legitimate government policy as an excuse to justify corruption and illegality at any institution.  Like most people, I also believe that we need a fundamental review of our import taxes as well as an overhaul of the draconian administrative practices at the Port. But we have to separate this debate from crimes at the Port. Let us condemn the criminal and saboteurs at the port for their illegal actions. 

In any case, the Judiciary and Police Service have consistently ranked high on the list of corrupt institutions in Ghana and yet these two institutions have no ‘atrocious taxes’. The last time I checked, most people are not particularly pleased with paying taxes of any kind no matter how low the tax rate. Should we then argue that taxes causes corruption.