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Minority must support E-levy if they love the country

Source The Ghana Report

Deputy Minister of Finance, Abena Osei Asare, has urged the Minority in Parliament to support the passage of the Electronic Levy (E-Levy).

She believes supporting the E-levy cause, which is a home grown solution, is the surest way for the Minority to show their immense love for the country.

“Previously, many of our tax or revenue measures were being influenced by government partners without considering the rigidities in our own economy but this is a home grown tax measure which we believe will go a long way to help us address certain issues that has come up as a result of the global crisis and domestic issues as well.

“Among other things, this tax will help us close the infrastructure gap, acquire some skills, knowledge, capital for the youth and also address our high debt level. I urge my colleagues to look at it favourably if they really love the country and make sure to pick this home grown solution,” the Member of Parliament for Atiwa East said.

The Atiwa East legislator was debating on a motion moved by the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta regarding the passage of the E-Levy bill.

She also said that several town hall meetings suggest that Ghanaians are interested in transparency and effectiveness in the utilisation of tax revenues, rather than the tax being introduced.

Exemptions

She also mentioned that the bill ensures that no one gets levied for moving their own cash from one wallet to the other or from one bank account to another bank account provided it is registered in the person’s name.

Again, the exemptions for transfer between principal, master agents or a special merchant and other stakeholders in the value chain will ensure that nobody loses money, jobs or means of livelihood.

According to her, the GHC100 transfer a day, also seeks to protect the ordinary Ghanaian and enable them to continue to send money without the risk of being taken out from the digital economy.

All payment of taxes and other government related payments done on the ghana.gov site will be exempted.

What is the E-levy?

The E-levy is a tax applied on transactions made on electronic or digital platforms. The Minister for Finance announced in parliament the intention to implement the bill where 1.75% will be taxed on all digital transactions during the presentation of the 2022 budget.

The E-Levy is expected to generate an estimated amount of GH¢ 6,96 billion in 2022, GH¢7.89 billion in 2023, GH¢8.92 billion in 2024 and GH¢10.09 billion in 2025.

It is also one of the measures to increase the country’s tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio from 13 per cent to 16 per cent.

According to Mr Ofori-Atta, the E-Levy will not be applicable for the following:

  • Cumulative transfers of GHC100 per day made by the same person.
  • Transfers between accounts owned by the same person.
  • Transfers for the payment of taxes, fees and charges on the Ghana.gov platform
  • Electronic clearing of cheques.
  • Specified merchant payments (that is, payments to commercial establishments registered with the GRA for income tax and VAT purposes).
  • Transfers between principal, master agent and agent’s accounts.

On the other hand, the E-Levy will be charged fully on the following:

  • Mobile money transfers between accounts on the same electronic money issuer (EMI).
  • Mobile money transfers from an account on one EMI to a recipient on another EMI.
  • Transfers from bank accounts to mobile money accounts.
  • Transfer from mobile money accounts to bank accounts.
  • Bank transfers on a digital platform or application which originate from a bank account belonging to an individual to another individual.

The levy has divided parliament, with the Majority pushing for approval, while the Minority has kicked against it.

There was a split vote of 12 for each side at parliament’s finance committee until the chairman cast the decisive vote favouring the proposal.

Parliament degenerated into fisticuffs at a meeting to approve the levy, prompting an adjournment to 18 January 2022.

The chamber turned chaotic as MPs pushed, shoved and punched each other during the heated exchanges that many observers have since condemned.

This was after the Speaker had left and delegated the First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, to take over proceedings.

The Minority has said it will do all it can to ensure that the bill does not see the light of day, insisting it is not in the best interest of Ghanaians.

Discussions on the proposed levy

Since the announcement by the minister in parliament last year, the yet-to-be passed tax has faced strong rejections with tax experts describing it as harsh, considering the economic situation in the country but the government insists it would pass it.

The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) called on the government to reconsider imposing a 1.75% levy on mobile money and other electronic transactions in the country.

The chamber maintained that the proposed levy would further worsen the plight of businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which were mainly growth-driven and susceptible to economic and market cycles.

GNCCI said to increase revenue, the government should rather focus on finding innovative ways of widening the tax net, ensuring tax compliance, as well as addressing the rising levels of tax exemptions which did not commensurate business growth.

Investment banking firm C-nergy Ghana Limited joined the chorus in admonishing the government to review the proposed Electronic Transaction Levy.

Even though C-nergy is not entirely opposed to the levy, they hold the opinion that “the 1.75% E-Transactions levy rate is high”.

Analysts from the firm are of the belief that the scope and coverage of the levy are wide enough to generate the targeted revenues “if it is monitored and managed effectively”.

Additionally, the Association of Mobile Money Agents had planned a strike and demonstration over the controversial e-levy proposition on  Thursday, 23 December 2021, but called it off.

For Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin, the approval of the E-levy will spell doom for the governing NPP in the 2024 elections.

“It is very clear that if this your E-Levy goes through, you (NPP) have lost the election,” he said during a speech at a meeting with former legislators on Thursday, 23 December 2021.

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