Professor Stephen Asare (a.k.a Kwaku Azar), a Ghanaian Professor based in the United States of America (USA), has reacted to the presidency’s response to his challenge that President John Mahama’s filing of his 2012 tax returns at the Domestic Tax Revenue Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) office in Accra two days ago was against the dictates of the 1992 Constitution.
The Presidency yesterday responded to some of the issues raised by Professor Asare in the light of article 68(1), that the President of the Republic is not supposed to hold any office of profit or emolument and that as per Article 68(5) of the 1992 constitution, the President of the Republic is exempt from paying, saying; these issues are however misplaced for reasons that “His Excellency John Dramani Mahama was Vice President between 7th January 2009 and June 2012. Therefore as Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, he was required to pay tax for part of the last tax year. This is because the 1992 constitution per article 68(5) does not exempt the vice president from paying tax but only the president.”
Again the statement from the Presidency also noted that as regards the second issue, “it needs to be clarified that what the President is precluded from doing as per article 68(1) of the 1992 constitution is to hold ‘any office of profit or emolument’. This means for this tax year, His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama will have to pay tax on taxable income that accrues to him other than from holding an office which effectively “that monies accruing from a book that the President has written will be taxable because it does not derive from an ‘office’ within the meaning of article 68(1).”
But, notwithstanding the further and better explanations from the Presidency, Prof. Asare followed up with another rebuttal yesterday saying, “the answers from the Presidency are non-responsive.”
The Professor said, it is not for Raymond Atuguba, the Executive Secretary at the Presidency “to tell us what “holding an office of profit or emolument is.” Obviously, he does not think the President has violated the Constitution. His view is, of course, inconsequential, quiet apart from being bias. What we need here is a juridical determination, not Ray’s spin.”
He said, if the President is seeking some political goodwill by publicly filing his tax returns then he should as well know that the goodwill opens the door for the citizenry to inquire about the sources of his income, especially as the President has conceded that he earned non-tax exempt income.
Prof. Asare reiterated that in as much as it is true that the President had three sources of income last year, which included VP’s compensation, President’s compensation, book royalties “I find it hard to believe that he (President) had no investment income, no gifts, rental income, etc. This may be true but there is a simple step that can clarify the matter. Let the returns be made public because there is a real concern that the President may have “held office of profit or emolument.”