A Deputy Minister of Finance, Mrs Abena Osei-Asare, has rallied the Minority caucus to support the measures proposed in the budget to lift the Ghanaian economy from the doldrums it finds itself in.
Where the economy finds itself, Mrs Osei-Asare, who is also the Member Parliament for Atiwa East, said, was not in the interest of any political grouping to frustrate the government’s efforts to repair the impaired economy.
Mrs Osei-Asare made this appeal at the commencement of the debate on the budget in Parliament yesterday following indication by the Minority that they would not back some of the measures outlined in the budget which was presented to the House last Thursday.
Dr Casiel Ato Forson, the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee and MP for Ajumako-Enyan- Essiam, during the debate, said the tax policies in the budget were draconian and would only worsen the economic condition of Ghanaians.
These taxes Dr Ato Forson itemised were the 2.5 per cent increment in VAT, a one per cent flat rate E-Levy, reversal of benchmark values, introduction of additional withholding tax from realisation of assets and liabilities, amongst 18 others and debt restructuring.
In his view, all these new taxes put together, “this government is introducing financial repression in our economy”.
He said the government was concealing debt restructuring under the name ‘debt exchange programme’, explaining that the impact of that act “would be severe on the investor”.
“Can you imagine if a pensioner using his lifetime pension to invest in government bond and is only surviving on the interests only for the Ministry of Finance to, all of a sudden, announce that in the year 2023, they won’t pay interest? How do you expect that pensioner to survive?
“I believe that this will come before Parliament and if it does come before Parliament, expect fierce resistance from us as the minority. You need to ring-fence the pensioners and protect them. We cannot allow the pensioner to pay for your mismanagement. We will resist it because we think that the Ghanaian people deserve better than that.”
On the proposed 2.5 VAT increment, Dr Forson said “the Minority will make a position on this tax policy in due course because we believe this is not the time to heap more taxes on Ghanaians”.
He said the government has been cunning when it assured the public that transactions below GH¢100 would not be charged because poor people belonged to that category and that reviewing it to one per cent from 1.5 without exemptions only threw dust in the eyes of the people.
“It’s a tax for the poor person. Why should we in these difficult economic conditions tax the person who your policy has already identified as poor and render them poorer?
“Mr Speaker, I can confirm to you that we in the Minority have taken a position that on this matter; we will reject it with all our might and all our strength,” Dr Forson vowed.
But, Abena Osei-Asare said the Minority should rethink their position, because Ghana would be the loser at the end of the day if the Minority carried out their threat.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI