The government has been accused of blackmailing the citizenry to accept the controversial Electronic Transaction Levy (E-levy).
According to the Bolgatanga Central MP, the Akufo-Addo government is using its flagship programmes, particularly, Free Senior High School (SHS) as a bargaining chip to force the citizens to accept the levy.
Isaac Adongo was of the view that the government’s modus operandi is more of a punishment than a saviour of the economy.
“They say, ‘if you don’t approve E-levy, we won’t pay school fees. If you don’t pay E-levy you won’t get your salary, if you don’t approve E-levy, we will not construct your roads.’
“Are we being blackmailed to accept the misery?” he quizzed.
The controversial Bill is back on Parliament’s agenda, barely a week after the Finance Minister failed to show up for questioning on the state of the economy.
Ken Ofori-Atta was, however, in the chamber of Parliament today and has moved the motion for the House to consider the E-levy Bill.
He noted that the earlier rate of 1.75% has been reduced to 1.5%.
However, the Minority in Parliament has expressed utter disgust about the Majority Caucus’ attempt to ambush the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) by smuggling the consideration of the Bill into the Order Paper.
“We have time and again warned and cautioned that we never want to be taken by surprise on a major economic policy of government and we will not accept that culture,” the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu fumed.
But contributing to the discussion, Mr. Adongo alleged that with President Akufo-Addo marking his 78th birthday today, he wants the controversial E-levy Bill passed as his birthday present.
“Mr. Speaker, he [the President] has marshaled all his troops to this Chamber to deliver misery and rip the poor of their little money.
“This will go down as a President who chose a very memorable day to punish his own citizens with E-levy,” he intimated.
Mr. Adongo further said the President, “was elected to serve the people and not to punish them.”
On the back of this, he appealed that the Akufo-Addo-led administration to heed the calls of the citizenry and drop the Bill.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, presenting the 2022 budget on Wednesday, November 17, announced that the government intends to introduce an E-levy.
The levy, he revealed, is being introduced to “widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector”. This followed a previous announcement that the government intends to halt the collection of road tolls.
The proposed levy, which was expected to come into effect in January, 2022, is a charge of 1.75% on the value of electronic transactions. It covers mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances. There is an exemption for transactions up to GH¢100 per day.
Explaining the government’s decision, the Finance Minister revealed that the total digital transactions for 2020 were estimated to be over GH¢500 billion (about $81 billion) compared to GH¢78 billion ($12.5 billion) in 2016. Thus, the need to widen the tax net to include the informal sector.
Although the government has argued that it is an innovative way to generate revenue, scores of citizens and stakeholders have expressed varied sentiments on its appropriateness with many standing firmly against it.
Even though others have argued in support of the levy, a section of the populace believe that the 1.75% E-levy is an insensitive tax policy that will deepen the already prevailing hardship in the country.
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Source: Ama Cromwell