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E-Levy is economic “Akobam” – Ato Forson

The Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, Dr. Cassel Ato Forson has described the Electronic Transaction Bill 21 as “Akobam”, a well-known local herbal ointment that has the potency of dealing with all ailments.
Speaking on the floor of the House on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 when the Bill was read for second time, the Ranking member said listening to the defence of government spokespersons on the E-Levy, he said it has been projected as the panacea to all our economic woes.
Mr. Speaker, today we’ve been told that this tax can cure most of the sicknesses of this Ghanaian economy, Mr. Speaker to the extent that this tax is more powerful than most of the herbal medicines that we’ve seen. Mr. Speaker, we have told that this tax can even cure my colleague Honourable Okudzeto Ablakwa’s bald head, Mr. Speaker, this is a dangerous tax, Mr. Speaker, when this tax passes probably my bald head would be cured.
“That we in the NDC are not against taxation, Mr. Speaker we are against this particular tax, we are against this particular tax for a technical reason, and we believe that posterity would vindicate us.”
Mr Speaker it nothing but technical reasons, Mr. Speaker it not personal neither it is a sabotage against the economy Mr Speaker; rather we are pointing the government in the right direction.
He argued that though they have often supported tax policies; tax policies that are progressive, they do not believe that a tax policy must be designed in such a way that will target the poor persons.
He said the economic problems of the country has become endemic and believes that this singular policy (E-Levy) cannot cure the sickness; and urged the minister to come with a comprehensive package in restoring economic stability and not to concentrate as if e-levy is the panacea to our economic problems.
Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

Opening of Ghana’s land borders not well coordinated with other neighbours—Humado

A former Member of Ghana’s delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Clement Kofi Humado is of the view that the opening of Ghana’s land borders was not well coordinated with its neighbours.
According to him information he has gathered with an address given by President Nana Akufo-Addo on the opening of the land borders on Monday, March 28, 2022 on the Ghana Togo border at Aflao indicates that the Togolese authorities were not officially informed about the opening of the Ghanaian land border.

“So movement of persons and goods was hampered and by the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) guidelines these activities should have been coordinated and supervised by WAHO and prior meetings involving all ECOWAS Foreign, Interior and Health Ministers”, he said in an interview.

Mr. Kofi Humado further noted that the opening of the land borders of Ghana was long overdue, but now that Ghana has announced the opening it’s not too late for the intervention of ECOWAS and WAHO.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

President Akufo-Addo presents SONA on Wednesday

As part of fulfilling the Constitutional mandate of Article 67 of the 1992 Republican Constitution H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is billed to present a message on the State of the Nation Address on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

Article 67 provides that, “The president shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament and before a dissolution of Parliament, deliver to parliament a message of on the State of the Nation”.

In a statement issued by the Director of Public Affairs, Madam Kate Addo has noted that attendance to, and coverage of the event is strictly by invitation or accreditation.

Weaning public tertiary off subvention needs re-thinking—Dr. Apaak

Deputy Ranking member on the Committee of Education in Ghana’s Parliament Dr. Clement A.  Apaak  has called for thorough re-thinking of the policy proposal by the President Nana Akufo-Addo lead administration to wean public tertiary institutions off government subventions.

According to him this would invariably restrict access to tertiary education and further prevent the poor and marginalised from accessing tertiary education when implemented.

The Builsa South lawmaker in a statement noted that a statement made by the Minister for Finance Ken Ofori Atta, “Wean-off public tertiary institutions from government payroll and provide them with a fixed amount ‘block grant’,” instead meant, government intends to no longer shoulder the cost of paying lecturers and staff of the tertiary institutions. As such, tertiary institutions would have to raise their own revenue to pay for the human resources required to function as institutions of higher learning.

Finance Minister of Ghana

For tertiary institutions under prevailing circumstances to raise the needed resources to pay teaching and non-teaching staff, it will likely require passing a chunk of the bill to students, resulting in higher school fees. Higher fees will be to the detriment of poor students who are even struggling to pay the current fees.

When public tertiary institutions become fee-paying, then obviously, government is directly introducing a financial barrier to the already existing infrastructural barrier.

“In any case, why would government increase access by making secondary education free, and propose to restrict access by essentially making the cost of obtaining tertiary education by beneficiaries of free secondary education exorbitant?”

This proposal, if implemented, would negate any gains that free SHS intended to achieve. For a government that believes that parents cannot afford to pay school fees for their wards at senior high level to now turn around to demand full fee paying from same at the tertiary level, is to say that there is lack of appreciation of the whole policy intervention at the secondary level.

He further pointed out that, only last year, President Akufo-Addo in his attendance to a forum made a point in his speech at the Global Education Summit held at the UK, that government was considering free tertiary education.

And the turnaround by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta makes the exact policy direction of this government on education a wonder.

Public tertiary institutions, aside their assured quality, are intended to provide an even platform for all, including the poor to access higher education leading to their contributing their quota to the development of this country, he added.


E-Levy: Don’t deny government revenue; correct disagreements and pass the E-Levy —Opare-Ansah

Former Chairman of the Communications Committee in the seventh (7th) Parliament of the Fourth Republic, Fredrick Opare-Ansah has urged the 8th Parliament to pass the E-Levy in order not to deny the government the needed revenue for development.

According to him whatever the disagreement is between the two sides in the House, both the Minority and Majority know the mechanism available to them in Parliament which is the Amendment process, which they can adopt to the Electronic Transfer Bill 2021 by moving the rate from 1.75 to 1.5.

He believes Ghanaians would not blame parliament when this is done and it is sent to the presidency for assent, but the president decides otherwise.
He said since December 2021, “we are three month into the year, we have denied the government for a whole quarter, so if the expectation of revenue from the E Levy say ten billion cedis, you have lost two point five billion already; then we complain that things are tough in the country. Government wants revenue to work for us and we do not have to deny government that revenue”.

Again, some MPs complain that their constituents are saying after paying tax on their salaries after that they have to pay on momo too, but sometimes after working for someone and you are being paid you should be the one paying the tax.

Minister for Communications and Digitalization,

So, a proposal should be made for an amendment and change the application of the tax from someone sending to the one receiving the mobile money. You can change the law so that the mobile phone operators have numbers for commercial use and those for personal use.

“If I send money and at the end of the month it is twenty thousand my pay from all records is ten thousand, now the records would be available to government, then you would be called to find out how you were able to send this monies but you claim you were not paying it to a commercial line but you were paying to an individual line”.

He recounted that when he went to Parliament for the first time during the John Agyekum Kuffour’s time, a lotto bill of the National Lotteries Authority brought to parliament, government wanted to create its own lotto company to have a monopoly, in lotto operation.

But, parliament said no they would rather give government the power to regulate the lotto authority; let individuals have lotto marketing companies and operate their own system. This was parliaments decision and not that of the Executive.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“Exclusion Executive leadership style can’t win NPP 2024 elections”—Opare-Ansah

Aspiring General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Fredrick Opare-Ansah, has bemoaned the current “exclusion national executive leadership style of the NPP indicating that it would not help the party to win the 2024 Presidential and Parliamentary general elections.

According to him the challenge faced by the party required a different kind of national party executive style; but acknowledged that the current national executives have played their role.
“I have been talking about the non-inclusion of some members of the NPP. They have become apathetic to the party; there are a whole host of former MPs, government appointees and office holders of the party who have given up and no one is even approaching them to bring them back on board. Politics is about numbers”, he added.

He further pointed out in an interview on Saturday, March 26, 2022 when he officially declared his intention of contesting the General Secretary position of the party that party officials, like polling station officials, coordinators are needed, but they are not the only ones needed to win a general elections.

“The party officials would not be more than three hundred thousand; you need over six or seven million votes to win the presidential election, and a number close to that to win majority of parliamentary seats. We need to go back for those who feel excluded”.

“Again, I have said I do not think there is anyone who can debate the E-Levy better than me, but no one has approached me to help debate, I would avail myself but no one has approached me. If I were in office, I would go looking for the best people in the field to come and help the party because one person does not possess knowledge”.

“I have dared the party if they have any one who can debate the e- levy better than me that person should come and meet me for us to be in the studious and debate for Ghanaians to listen to us”.
He noted that the politics of exclusion is what he is talking about; the leadership style now cannot help the party. According to him, sometime last year when the issue on the general secretary position came up and he expressed interest should the opportunity be available, he was removed from the national communications team whatapp platform. And queried it should be so.

He said when he questioned the basis for his removal, he was told all persons on the platform who do not talk have been taken away from the platform.

He indicated that for effective and coherent communication on government issues, a platform as theirs to disseminate information, the National Communications Director of the party should have summary on government policies and discussion to guide the People on what to say and what not to say.

The former Suhum lawmaker noted that the intolerance in the party now, if it is taken into 2024 it would be difficult for them to win, that is why he is calling for change in leadership. “That is why I am presenting myself.

I have told my campaign team and all those coming on board that do not go and speak against anyone because after winning, they would need, Mr. John Boadu himself, the current General Secretary, we would invite him if he would not invite me I would invite him like I am doing with my former MP I defeated, I move everywhere with him”.

“If he does not want to come with me, I would tire him into a car and move around with him for him to help with the party work, the party would need his contribution for the party to be maintained in power, but the style of excluding people in the party if we do not stop would affect us”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Ama Sey endorses Opare Ansah as NPPs next General Secretary

Former Member of Parliament for Akwatia Mercy Adu Gyamfi popularly known as (Ama Sey) has endorsed Frederick Opare-Ansah as the next General Secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Saturday March 26, 2022 when the later officially declared his intention to contest for the position.

According to Ama Sey the NPP is a party with respect and appeals to a lot of people but the conduct of some elected Executives is forcing some supporters to give up on the party.

Ama Sey endorses Opare Ansah

“We need a proper General Secretary who would bring the poor and the rich together and someone who can work with the young and the old, to cut down bickering, that person is our father Opare Ansah. Tell a friend to tell his or her boyfriend or girlfriend, I said you should vote for Opare Ansah when the time comes later in the year to elect a General Secretary for NPP”.

Friends of Opare-Ansah organised a programme at Tarkoradi over the weekend, specifically on Saturday, March 26, 2022 where they officially asked him if he was interested in the General Secretary position because they have heard he was interested and they wanted him to officially declare his intention to vie for the General Secretary position.

Madam Mercy Adu Gyamfi further pointed out while addressing friends of Opare-Ansah that he is the only person who can bring the party members together in the wake of the retrogression being witnessed in the party.

“They said they do not like Ama Sey because she cannot speak English, we do not like her but I can bring people into the party fold so if I stand to be elected wouldn’t you vote for me? There were people who stood behind and said Ama Sey, we do not want her when I went to Parliament. If people would like me it has to do with our father Opare Ansah”.

She recounted that, due to the embarrassment she was taken through, when she was in Parliament she became quiet; it was the former Suhum MP Frederick Opare-Ansah who took her to his office and encouraged her.

And she was able to talk in Parliament and he is someone the party needs, indicating that with Opare Ansah, no matter who you are if you are down he would lift you up again, his human relation is perfect and would ensure no one abuses or makes you uncomfortable.

“I hope you and I can push for him to become the General Secretary; it would surprise us as to the level he would place the party for it to be attractive to the extent that when he is the General Secretary even supporters of the opposition would have confidence in NPP”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Muntaka worried over inability of finance Minister to answer questions in Parliament

Majority Chief Whip has expressed worry over the conduct of the Finance Minister for writing letters to explain his inability to be present on the floor of the House to answer twelve questions in the name of his Ministry but has time to organise town hall meetings and address the nation on measures taken to address the economic difficulties the nation’s economy is going through.

He was reacting to his colleague the Majority Chief Whip when he asked permission to vary the order of business on the floor of the House on Thursday, March 24, 2022 and also to draw the attention of the House that the Finance Minister has brought a letter to be given some time to get data on some of the questions posed to his Ministry.

“Our standing orders are very clear on how long it should take a Minister to come to the House to answer questions. Some of the questions have been outstanding for the past 8 months. My worry is that if we keep accommodating the Finance Minister’s excuses these questions would never be answered. I do not have objection in varying business but if we don’t take time the questions would be left in a pool that would get missing”, he lamented.

And pointed out that the sector Minister is in a habit of always sending his deputies to address questions on the floor instead of him showing up to do that.

HWE thus serve notice that going forward his side would not accommodate any other person to answer questions on the floor of the House than the Minister himself as they do not intend to over flock the matter in question.

Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu the Frist Deputy Speaker who was presiding in the chair directed that the questions for the Finance Minister to answer be re-scheduled.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Three Minority Ranking members serve notice to picket KIA

Ranking members of three Committees in Ghana’s Parliament have served notice to the Ghana police service to start picketing Wednesday March 30, 2022 over the illegal, unconscionable and extortion COVID-19 antigen testing being conducted by Frontiers Health Services Limited at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

They are Member of Parliament for North Tongu and Ranking on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa; MP for Adaklu and Ranking on Roads and Transport, Governs Kwame Agbodza; and Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, Ranking on the Health Committee.

In a letter dated Thursday, March 24, 2022 to the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander they pointed out that pursuant to the Public Order Act, (Act 491) on behalf of the Minority caucus and Ghanaians they represent, “we are further resolved to converge at the precincts of the airport from 2:00pm to 6:00pm each day”, they wrote.

In addition they noted in their letter that they convey their warm regards and look forward to their lawful cooperation in this matter of immense national interest.


Haruna calls for national conversation on Free SHS

In the wake of Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta pointing out that nothing would change when it comes to the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy in the wake of measures government is taking to deal with the distressed Ghanaian economy.

Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu is calling for a national conversation on the future of the country’s education, “we have cause to believe we are investing in literacy and numeracy and not human capital. It is only in Ghana that at the basic level everybody passes, that cannot be competitive, that cannot make our product competitive in the world tomorrow”.

The Minority Leaders comment is in reaction to the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta’s disclosure in the wake of measures government is taking to deal with the distressed Ghanaian economy that     nothing would change when it comes to the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.

Addressing members of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) on Thursday, March 24, 2022 after adjournment; and in response to the finance Minister’s address to the nation, the Tamale South lawmaker further called for re-introduction of the toll booth collection that has been suspended.

“If you have the mandate to govern you can’t just do as you please, nowhere in the world would you travel and not see functional toll booth the state has lost a significant amount of money arising out of it. We, think it is only proper it is re-introduced and probably adjusted so that we can get in the needed revenue and use it as a vehicle to promote public-private partnership in the development of our road infrastructure and other infrastructure need”.

Mr. Iddrisu in addition noted that the measures announced by the Finance Minister at his Thursday, address does not respond to a country in debt distresses. “Our debt is simply not sustainable we are told an additional forty five billion have been added to our interest payment for the first quarter”.

He further questioned where the Minister would be raising that money, even with an expenditure cut of 31 billion Ghana cedis, he already has a deficit of not less than 6.9 billion; he must come properly.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com