NPP will lose 2024 if E-Levy is implemented – Bagbin

Source The Ghana Report

Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin believes implementing the controversial 1.75% Electronic Transaction Levy will be the downfall of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the next elections.

The new levy is expected to generate funds to shore up revenue for developmental projects as the NPP steps up efforts to extend their stay in power beyond eight years, but Mr Bagbin thinks the burden on Ghanaians would instead compel them to vote against the NPP in 2024.

“As you go around trying to convince Ghanaians to vote for your party and you, others with big pockets are facilitating your parties, and when you win power, they get the positions, not you. So they don’t have that culture, they don’t have that understanding, and there is that missing link.”

“So they come to impose their ideas on you to rather take party interest first, not Ghana first, and we always vote ourselves out of power, which my colleagues in the NPP are doing now. So don’t be surprised in the next elections if you don’t win.

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

The levy has divided parliament, with the Majority pushing for approval, while the Minority has rejected 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 the last 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 decision of the First Deputy Speaker to take leave of the Speaker’s chair for the Second Deputy Speaker Andrew Asiamah to take charge to enable him to participate in the voting occasioned disagreement from the Minority, and a subsequent tussle over the Speaker’s sitting area ensued.

The Minority MPs moved to block him from voting because they believed he was not entitled to vote as the acting Speaker during the debate.

The brawl saw dozens of the opposition parliamentarians exchange fisticuffs with their colleagues on the majority side while some parliament officials tried to protect the Speaker’s seat and the mace of parliament from being attacked.

Later, the Majority accused Mr Bagbin of deliberately taking action to stall the approval of the levy.

Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu, questioned why the Speaker vacated his seat on Monday, 20 December 2021, during parliament’s sitting.

At a press briefing on Thursday, 23 December 2021, he pointed fingers at the Speaker for demanding a GHS1.72 billion allocation to parliament.

“He [Bagbin] says that he has information that the total revenue of this country was going to be GHS89 billion and that the finance minister should give him 2 per cent of it, and that works to GHS1.72 billion”.

“If he [Finance Minister] doesn’t give parliament GHS1.72 billion, then his budget is going to be thrown out; he [Bagbin] was going to make sure that the budget was rejected”.

“Is that where we are going as a country?” he wondered.

The MP for Suame is not the only one blaming the Speaker for the outcome.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, also stated that Mr Bagbin’s actions appeared as part of a plot to frustrate the bill’s approval.

“We will not proceed to take decisions without Mr Speaker. We need him in the House because, by the technicalities of our own procedures, one of our people would have to sit in, and therefore he will not have the opportunity to have his right of voting as a member. Mr Speaker must show leadership in parliament,” he pointed out.

But Mr Bagbin says his hands are clean.

According to him, he was in parliament purposely for the E-Levy discussions, but they altered the order of the day with many other activities extending the duration of sitting unduly.

Due to health reasons, he handed over to the deputy to handle matters.

“I can give you a copy of my closing remarks which when I was leaving I passed through my usher to give to them that it was after 10 in the night, and I had to go and take a rest because you delayed in sitting. I had to compel the House to sit after 2:00 pm, and I presided, I said let us discuss E-levy, you said no, rather the other business.”

“I kept on varying, and we did about six important items, approving other loans until I had to hand over getting to 6:30 to the First Deputy Speaker,” he explained.

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