THE Minority and Majority caucuses in Parliament have reacted differently to the mid-year budget review presented to the House by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta in Accra yesterday.
Whilst the Minority thinks the review is “nothing but an imposition of hardship on the Ghanaian people by the Akufo-Addo government,” the Majority described it as a “measure to address the economic quagmire” the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) left the country in before exiting power in January 2017.
Finance Minister, Ken Afori-Atta, in line with Article 178 of the 1992 Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, Act 921, came to Parliament to deliver the mid-year review and supplementary estimate of government expenditure for the 2019 Financial Year.
Whiles requesting for additional GH¢6, 370,355,925.82 to finance government projects for the remainder of the year, the Finance Minister increased five levies in the energy and communication sectors and scrapped the Luxury Vehicle Levy introduced in 2018.
Bolgatanga Central Member, Isaac Adongo, speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Times said the government was choking on the lofty promises it made in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
According to the first term NDC lawmaker, “the New Patriotic Party in opposition failed to think through the policies and is now burdening Ghanaians with the responsibility to fund their lofty promises.
By this review, we have increased communication tax by 50 per cent. If you used GH¢10 on data for three days, be ready to spend same in one and half days,” he said.
Touching on the scrapped luxury vehicle tax, Mr Adongo said “it is robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
He explained that the people who were supposed to benefit from the tax reprieve were the same people targeted in the Road Fund Levy, the Energy Debt Recovery Levy and the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levy as increased in the review.
In his view, the government had shifted from its promise to move from taxation to production and was doing the opposite.
“Taxes must be used to develop the country but we can’t see what the money under this government is being used for,” he exclaimed.
But the government spokesperson on Finance, Daniel Okyem Aboagye, responding to the claims by the Minority said the opposition lacked the moral authority to mount the high ground to speak about economic management of the country.
Mr Aboagye, MP, Bantama said “all the taxes introduced in the energy sector is to ensure that we don’t go back to the days of dumsor. They superintended over a bad policy called take or pay.
“As a result, you and I need to cough up US$600 million annually to settle the Independent Power Producers,” he said.
On the communication tax, Mr Aboagye clarified that it was an existing tax which “we are tweaking a little bit so that our roads can be fixed, schools, hospitals and markets can be built improve our economy.”
Responding to queries as to why government was not selling the power to other countries in the sub-region, Mr Aboagye said government was collaborating with the World Bank to sell the power.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE, JULIUS PETETSI & JONATHAN DONKOR