Ghana lawmakers pass contested tax bill

"The Electronic Transfer Levy duly read today after the consideration stage has been passed," Parliament Speaker Alban Bagbin said.
COVID-19: Ghana records community infection of Delta variant
COVID-19: Ghana records community infection of Delta variant

Agency Report

Ghana's parliament on Tuesday approved a new electronic transaction tax which the government says will help raise $900 million in much-needed revenue but which has sparked widespread popular criticism.

The so-called E-levy will introduce a 1.5 percent tax on electronic money transfers and transactions, which President Nana Akufo-Addo's government says will help address problems from unemployment to Ghana's high public debt load.

But for many Ghanaians the tax represents yet another burden as they are already struggling with high living costs heightened by soaring fuel prices due to the Ukraine crisis.

Lawmakers passed the law after the opposition minority walked out of the debate.

"The Electronic Transfer Levy duly read today after the consideration stage has been passed," Parliament Speaker Alban Bagbin said.

Opening the debate, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the government had already reduced the tax from 1.75 to 1.5 percent after consultations, adding that it will bring in projected revenues of $927.5 million.

Before they walked out of the debate, opposition lawmakers dismissed the new tax as unfair.

"The people have roundly rejected the E-Levy and our constituents have told us to reject it, so why is the president imposing it on us?" said opposition NDC party lawmaker Isaac Adongo.

"What is the crime of Ghanaians that now the government wants to use their pockets as collateral."

Ghana is struggling to revive its economy from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and its high public debt is a burden.

Earlier this week, Ghana reopened its land and sea borders after a two-year closure as it lifted some coronavirus restrictions in an attempt to bolster its flagging economy.

The president and his ministers also recently cut their own wages by 30 percent, along with other measures they hope will help generate $400 million in savings for state coffers.

AFP

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