Finance Committee okays e-Levy, Minority to vote against it

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority Caucus in Parliament has given the indication that it will vote against the Electronic Transaction Bill, 2021 (e-Levy) when it is put before the House.

Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, a Member of the Minority and Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, said the 137 Minority MPs would vote against the Motion because the Bill could inflict hardship on the ordinary Ghanaian, if passed.

At a press conference in Accra on Monday, Dr Forson said the Finance Committee could not reach a consensus at its sitting as there was a tie, which resulted in the Chairman casting the winning vote in favour of the Motion.

“Today is a sad day for our democracy. I say this for a simple reason that we can see clearly a government that is not ready to listen; a government that is determined to push their agenda regardless of what its impact is to the people of Ghana.”

He said at the Finance Committee’s meeting, there was a suggestion to first determine whether they could consider the E-Lev Bill as a certificate of urgency but the Minority opposed it with the reason that the House had received a petition from the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications and it must be given a hearing.

He said the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications on December 1, 2021, wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament, attention of Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker, to first invite and hear them.

The Telecom Chamber believed it had an alternative way of generating revenue as against what the Government sought to do and so the Minority argued that it was important Parliament gave them a hearing.

He said the Minority invoked Standing Order 211 of the House that calls for a division. Under Standing Order 211(5), the Chairman of the Committee did not have an original vote but only had a casting vote.

He said the Chairman decided to exercise his right of casting vote and vote in favour for the Committee to consider the E-levy under a certificate of urgency.

“So we subjected the decision to a vote, the 12 NDC members of the Committee voted against it while the 12 NPP members on the Committee without the Chairman voted in favour of the motion that they should carry it under a certificate of urgency,” he said.

Dr Forson said despite losing, the Minority then decided to sit in and not to boycott the processes.

“We do not believe that we should boycott it, and we should sit in and where possible, as much as we can, we get the bill improved or deleted completely.”

He said the Minority proposed the deletion of the Clause 1 of the Bill that proposed the tax at 1.75 per cent.

He said their attempt to get the clause deleted was defeated when the chairman again cast his vote in favour.

“If care is not taken and mobile money is taxed, since the demand is elastic, it may affect the use of the service and it will derail all the gains that Ghana has made in a cash light economy….”

“I want to say that we in the minority will not stop there, we will take the fight to the plenary. We will fight for the ordinary Ghanaian and we will ensure that e-levy will die today,” Dr Forson said.

“They can defeat us at the Committee level but I strongly believe that when it comes to the floor (of the House), all the 137 NDC MPs will stand firm with the ordinary Ghanaian in ensuring that E-levy does not see the light of the day”.

Source: GNA

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