Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, said the 137 Minority MPs would vote against the Motion when “it comes before the House, because the Bill when passed could inflict hardship on ordinary Ghanaians.”
Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Monday, Dr Forson said the Finance Committee could not reach consensus at its sitting, and that 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 noted that at the meeting, there was the need for them to first determine whether they could consider the Electronic Transfer Levy Bill before them to be pass under a certificate of urgency or not?
He said the Minority argued that it could not be considered under a certificate of urgency for a simple reason that the House had received a petition from the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications.
He said the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications on December 1, 2021 wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament and to the attention of Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, for them to first invite them and listen to them.
He said the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications believed that they had an alternative way of generating revenue as against what the government sought to do.
He said the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications had actually tabulated the negative impact of the levy to Parliament.
The Ranking Member said the Minority argued that it was important that the Government or Parliament of Ghana at the minimum met with them and listen to them.
He said the Minority felt there was the need at the minimum to meet with them and listen to them.
He said the Minority invoked Standing Order 211 of the House that calls for a division; saying “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 under Standing Order 211(5), the Chairman of the Committee does not have an original vote but he only had a casting vote.
He said the Chairman decided to exercise his right casting vote and voted in favour for the Committee to consider the E-levy under a certificate of urgency.
He 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 delete it 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.
“We have said that we do not believe that mobile money transactions should be taxed. Our posture, is that don’t tax momo. And we signaled that we do not believe that mobile money services should be taxed,” he said.
“We believe that mobile money service is only a medium of exchange and of course it is a choice.
“If care is not taken and you subject it to tax 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…”.
He said: “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.
“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”.