Parliament approves 2023 Budget statement …but minority threatens to kick against some taxes

Parliament has approved the principles underpinning the budget statement and economic policy of government for the year ending December 31, 2023.

The House would from this point proceed to approve sectorial allocations before the passage of the Appropriation (Amendment) Bill to give the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, the power to withdraw funds from the consolidated fund and other public funds.

The approval of the budget statement, presented by Mr Ofori-Atta to Parliament on November 24, was preceded by the concluding debates by the Majority and Minority leaders, OseiKyei-Mensah-Bonsu and HarunaIddrisu, respectively.

The House has been debating the principles of the budget since Tuesday, November 29, amidst low turnout and interest especially among members of the Majority Caucus.

However, the story was different yesterday as a near-full House converged and approved the budget statement with the Finance Minister in attendance.

In his argument, the minority leader described the current state of the economy as the result of reckless irresponsible borrowing which has gone into consumption and that they would not support some policies when it comes to the passage of the Appropriation Bill.

They include the 2.5 per cent increment in Value Added Tax, the revised electronic transfer levy, aspects of the proposed debt exchange programme, allocation to the National Cathedral amongst others.

“We in the NDC Minority will fiercely resist and fight the imposition of this additional tax on Ghanaians and Ghanaian businesses because, Mr Speaker, it will only exacerbate the hardship they are already going through,” he hinted.

To Mr Iddrisu, MP, Tamale South, the Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo-led government has no moral justification to seek to increase VAT having been opposed to its introduction in 1995.

“In 1995, President Akufo-Addo led Ghanaians to oppose VAT. Has he any moral right to ask this august House to help him increase VAT by 2.5 per cent. You have a difficulty in convincing us to support you.

Our position on E-Levy remains unchanged. We said that it was a disincentive to our quest to build a cashless economy. We should take advantage of ICT and mobile infrastructure to accelerate our development to mainstream ICT in all aspects of our national life. When you bring the bill we will insist that some provision is made for a threshold,” he said.

According to Haruna Iddrisu, “the (proverbial) light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off on the Ghanaian economy,” adding that the policies and reforms announced in the budget are not enough and it is the demand of this group that there must be major expenditure cuts in your budget and that is why some of your tax handles will suffer in our hands.” 

But the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the NPP remains better managers of the economy even in its lowest ebb as debt to GDP before it took power in 2000 was 140  per cent.

The challenge the economy faces now, the Suame MP said, is globally induced and never in the history of Ghana has it seen this downscalling in productivity due to COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.

“The sickness that befell the vulture which culminated in hair lost, if same had afflicted the crow, it would have been hurried,” he pontificated.

He said the NDC has borrowed more than the NPP anytime they are in power having raised the debt stock from GH¢9 billion to GH¢122 billion; a percentage increment of 1229 per cent compared to the 268 per cent seen under the current regime.

The increase in VAT, he explained, would ensure that roads continued to be constructed and dared the Minority to reject the increment if they don’t want their roads constructed.


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