E-levy: Govt’s old tax tweets and videos prove the biggest opposition

Ghana’s economy has dominated major news headlines across the country and beyond in the last few months.

Akufo-Addo, Bawumia sworn-in as President and Vice President

Known for its resilience in the last couple of years, the apparent tumbling of the Ghanaian economy has generated a lot of conversations among experts and the general populace.

According to experts, Ghana’s huge fiscal deficit has put the economy in a free fall and unless a robust domestic revenue mechanism is devised, the country won’t have any option than to get an assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Based on this, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government introduced a novel electronic levy in its 2022 budget and financial statement to Parliament.

The electronic levy, popularly known as e-levy as proposed by the NPP government will target all electronic financial transactions and foreign remittances.

Unsurprisingly, this levy has been met with a huge resistance by the ordinary Ghanaian and the Members of Parliament from the National Democratic Congress.

The Minister of Finance and other government officials have argued that going back to the IMF is untenable and the only way Ghana can come out of the fiscal hole is through the e-levy.

Ken Ofori-Atta, at the government’s town-hall meeting to discuss the E-levy on Thursday, 27 January 2022, said, the passage of the E-levy will save the country from falling back on the IMF for financial assistance, which, he said, would be disastrous.

“When we were in the IMF programme, we couldn’t pay for nurses and teachers,” he said; “we couldn’t hire any more because there were restrictions on that. I mean, it’s just really thinking you can go back to Egypt.”

“In a way, we have forgotten how difficult and tenacious that master from Washington was.”

“So, we can deal with them for them to give us advice but we need not ever get into an IMF programme [again]. If we don’t do this E-levy, we’re just pushing ourselves in a way that would potentially end up in such a disaster,” Ofori-Atta said.

However, prior to its winning of the 2016 general elections, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was strong anti-tax especially on mobile money and lambasted the then Mahama administration for bringing hardships on Ghanaians.

In August 2020, Vice-president Mahamudu Bawumia granted an interview to Accra-based Peace FM’s morning show Kokrokoo in which he disagreed with intentions, at the time, to tax mobile money transactions.

He told show host Kwame Sefa Kayi: “I don’t think Mobile Money should be taxed because most of the people who use the service are poor people so if you put more taxes on it they will suffer”.

A legal counsel to President Akufo-Addo, Kow Essuman also waded in on the taxation under the previous NDC administration and said: “Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery”.

He also wrote: “Honestly speaking, If I had my way, I would never pay taxes in this country. That way I would never give a damn if the govt slack.”

While on the campaign trail in 2016, the then running mate of the NPP, Dr. Bawumia bemoaned high taxes and promised that they will do better in government.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was not to be left out of this lower tax and improving the economy rhetoric.

In April 2015, he said: "We will move away from high budget deficits and reckless borrowing because we know of the benefits of fiscal responsibility."

He also promised not to get Ghana into a fiscal deficit hole and that he will be prudent with the Ghanaian economy.

Despite the government arguing that the economy is in this mess because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Ghanaians are asking of how the nation spent the $430 million it got from donors at the height of the pandemic.

Well, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is also asking the same question below.


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