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Ofori-Atta outlines six exemptions as govt re-submits E-Levy to Parliament

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has made some modifications as he prepares to take the 1.75% E-Levy back to parliament for approval on 25 January 2022.

Among the changes is a list of exemptions that will not be affected by the controversial new levy.

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.

At a media briefing on Wednesday, 19 December 2022, Mr Ofori-Atta highlighted the importance of the E-Levy to ensure debt sustainability levels at a time Ghana’s credit rating has been downgraded to ‘B-‘from ‘B’, with a negative outlook by the international credit rating agency Fitch.

The first time government hinted at the E-levy was in the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy.

Even though some other items have been approved by parliament, the E-Levy is outstanding with fierce opposition from the Minority.

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 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

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 New Patriotic Party (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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