Monday, 24 June 2013

When Actions of Officials Can Turn People Away- My experience with a GRA Officer.

It was a fine patchy weather day as I decided to go get some documentation for a few clients of mine.

I entered the Registrars' General's Department around 1 pm and headed straight to the Ghana Revenue Authority section of the building. After going through the filled forms, I was directed to go to the vetting section where, your forms filled to gain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) is assessed.

When I entered the vetting room there were a few applicant there so I had to wait in the queue till it was my turn to be vetted.

There were three desks in that office and three ladies if I may refer to them as such. During the time of vetting, one of them excused herself to go and have her lunch hence the number of official dropping to just two. We were quite a number in the office but the vetting process wasn't much of a serious task in my opinion as I tried to know what the vetting was about in stretching my neck and trying to make myself comfortable by moving around in that small space.

And within a speck of the moment or what my very good friend, Abena Adobea would say, a twinkle of an eye, one of the female official had begun firing applicants with an unacceptable tone. The reason, the applicant didn't fill the forms well. This lady official flurred up and was ranting as if this young guy had caused financial loss to the state in making a simple mistake of not getting what was tagged a landmark of his place of residence. This official who was having lunch I guess in the office was wild on the the applicant's forms, ranting, cancelling just anyhow anywhere she found a mistake on the form and at the same time eating here roasted pona (Yam).

Well soon it was my turn, I thought that was very unfortunate for an official to treat someone who had volunteered to come register for such a state directive. We all know that in this country of ours people don't do such things normally unless there is an ultimatum of a sort and even that one, it has to be the last minute syndrome act of responsibility.

With experience from the previous applicant and that lady official, I prepared my mind to face this woman boot for boot if she attempted anything of that on me. Then BOOM, she spotted something and started talking, mine was a mother's maiden name issue. She began her usual rant of you people should read, everything is on the form and so on and so forth. I initially didn't want to give her an ear and decided to play cool with her but she won't just stop talking, so I also raised my voice and asked her, what she meant by that. I also told her I was born to know my mother by the name I had written, so what was her justification of she trying to ridicule me in front of the other people. She hesitated a bit and kept quite. So i turned my head and another lady officer who was also in the same room conducting such service or vetting gave me an eye indicating I keep quite.

So I took the forms and left the office to call my mum to find out what name she had used before my father came to her parents to pay for her (ntri nsa) dowry. I returned and there was this woman heckling another applicant about the forms. This time she was vetting two forms from two students from the University of Ghana who told me later in chat that, they came there voluntarily to get their TIN so that they don't come there again in the situation where they had a job immediately after school. My other colleague who was with me experiencing the behaviour left angry after telling this official his piece of mind. Those two university guys also left without returning the forms again to be ridiculed by that lady officer.

But in all this, there were some nice official there in the same office who, welcomed and smiled to you and would direct you and ask you the needed question to guide and help you fill the forms correctly. After getting the details from my mum I was really waiting to meet this first lady officer again and really tell her some 'paa'. I am sure this second lady saw how puffed up i was, called me cooled me down and asked me if I wanted her to look at my forms and vet it.  I agreed and she was such a sweet young lady. She went through it thoroughly and asked the needed questions in a respectful way that I even regretted having that thought of going to react rudely to the other official.

Well I simply told myself that, if all the personnel here were like this young lady and the other third lady official in the department, I am sure, things would have been very much appreciated and all those who voluntarily came to pick up these Tax Identification Numbers, will come there and leave happy and not be rudely and bullishly embarrassed. Who knows the number of people who might have walked away due to this official's attitude of rudeness?

I am sure this sort of behaviour might have been experienced by you reading this post in one set up or the other whether it being a government institution especially or a private one. The authorities who head such organisations should really check some of these little things that might rip the country of revenue - this with reference to governmental agencies and departments.

If we get our acts right, this country will reach the heights that we all yearn for. God Bless our Homeland Ghana!!!

Photo Credit : Ghana Revenue Authority - GRA Logo
Photo Credit : Google

Useful Links :
Ghana Revenue Authority
Bank of Ghana

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Can Sustainable Energy be achieved by 2030?

Through out my growing life, I have been very concerned about what happens in the near future in relation to the environment and human livelihood. No doubt it has reflected in my activism being an A Rocha International member and rose to the University of Cape Coast president, Greenpeace member to mention but a few. I found this interesting piece online and I decided to blog it so the conversation can still go on. The future is what we have, so I am sure if we take all the necessary steps to keep it safe, and take the right actions, we will have a better place to live in. Continue reading.

The World Economic Forum’s Energy for Society initiative places secure and affordable energy access as the first of its five principles of which leading energy companies commit to deliver in order to meet the needs of a growing world population. Can we, however, go one step further and achieve universal access to energy by 2030 as is the target of many countries and the United Nations.

Renewable energy can play a transformative role in making this objective a reality. With the right policies, investment and public-private partnership models, we can achieve sustainable energy for all, and perhaps even before 2030.

By using our renewable resources, energy can be generated in a carbon-responsible, cost-effective manner that also creates jobs and mitigates climate change, providing a workable and affordable solution that will keep our planet healthy.

The potential of renewable energy is immense. For example, every megawatt (MW) of wind energy installed creates up to 20 jobs; a single 1.5 MW turbine can reduce CO2 emissions by over 3,000 tons every year. And, technological advances have increased the efficiency and productivity of renewable energy. In the wind industry, for example, improvement in technology have made wind turbines 100 times more powerful compared to designs from the 1980s. This is essential to meet our growing energy needs – industrialized countries need more energy to strengthen their economies and developing countries to accelerate progress.

Technological advances have also reduced the cost of renewable energy. For instance, sophisticated materials, electronics, aerodynamics and instillation of larger MW machines have brought down the costs of generating a kilowatt-hour of energy from wind by over 50%. The World Bank report, “Inclusive Green Growth: The Pathway to Sustainable Development”, also demonstrates that the capital costs of wind, solar and hydropower are more than balanced by their low operational costs.

New innovative business models present an economic opportunity for incorporating renewable energy. For example, integrated desalination plants and electric cars (that can also be used to store excess energy) offer ways to reduce costs, increases efficiency and facilitate economic growth. The island community of Samso in Denmark is an example where community-owned renewable energy has helped drastically bring down carbon emissions. Wind turbines power 100% of their electricity needs, and 75% of heating needs are met through solar power and biomass. The community also makes a profit by selling excess energy to the mainland.

Renewable Energy Sustainability

Replacing traditional sources of energy completely with renewable energy is going to be a challenging task. However, by adding renewable energy to the grid and gradually increasing its contribution we can realistically expect a future that is powered completely by green energy.

If we act now, we can mitigate the threat to our planet, reduce our dependence on limited traditional sources of energy and provide every person with their fundamental right – access to energy.

This original piece was authored by, Tulsi Tanti the Chairman of Suzlon Energy and a founding signatory of the World Economic Forum’s Energy for Society Initiative.