Monday, September 25, 2023
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HomeNDC Minority Shuns VAT Increment Discussions But Focuses On National Cathedral

NDC Minority Shuns VAT Increment Discussions But Focuses On National Cathedral

After sitting for long hours, Parliament finally approved GH₵227.8B under the appropriations bill to enable government undertake her planned activities for the year 2023.

Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the speaker led the House to approve the bill under a certificate of urgency on Thursday dawn as the House prepared to adjourn sine die to enable it members spend the Christmas with their family and loved ones.

Per a memorandum accompanying the bill, government is expected to expend an amount of GH₵45.5B on wages and salaries, GH₵39.26B on pensions, GH₵1.85B on gratuities and GH₵3.95B on social security.

An amount of GH₵8.57B is also expected to be spent on goods and services while GH₵3.70B will be spent on annual budget funding. Interest payments will receive an amount of GH₵52B with GH₵31.29B set aside for the payment of domestic debt. The government will also spend GH₵21.25B to service external debt. An amount of GH₵350.54m will also be expended on subsidies on petroleum products.

Rejection of GH80m for National Cathedral

But these approvals were not achieved on a silver platter as the Minority caucus who had earlier promised to ensure the blockade of some nuisance taxes and expenditures worked tirelessly to achieve their aim.

It will be recalled that after the approval of the budget statement, which is the first stage of the budget consideration, many Ghanaians were aggrieved about the fact that the Minority had helped approved a budget laced with draconian taxes and other expenditures.

But the Minority indicated to Ghanaians to be calm as the statement was the just the first stage and that the actual work will be done when the House gets to the approval of the appropriation bill.

The Minority indeed honoured their promise by first rejecting the approval of GH₵80m for the construction of the controversial National Cathedral, which was captured as part of the estimates for the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Therefore, instead of approving a total sum of GH₵260, 948,961.00m for the Ministry, the House ended up approving GH₵180, 948,961.00m.

Whiles the likes of Samuel Abu Jinapor, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Effutu, Mr Alexander Afenyo Markin all debated in support of the approval of the GH80m for the construction of the cathedral, Minority members including Mr Sam George also put up a strong argument against the motion and eventually won the debate.

Even before the money was totally rejected, the Finance Minister had suggested it should be added to the budget estimates of the Ministry of Roads and Highways and the Ministry of Communication, but that suggestion was also rejected.

Reinstatement of e-levy minimum threshold

The minority also put up a cogent argument to ensure that the minimum threshold of GH₵100 for the Electronic Transfer Levy, which had been removed was restored, whilst the fee for the each transfer was pegged at 1% as suggested in the budget statement.

Others blockades      

Other estimates, which the Minority caucus ensured did not find its way into the appropriation bill was the request for an amount of GH₵1.3B for the demolition and redevelopment of the Accra International Conference Center, an amount of GH₵1.4B deposit into the Contingency Vault and monies to establish new diplomatic missions in Jamaica, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago.

Also, the minority caucus ensured that an amount of GH₵27.5m for the operations of the Special Development Initiatives Secretariat and the Monitoring and Evaluation Secretariat at the Office of the President was rejected as well as the rejection of a tax measure intended to compel commercial drivers to produce tax clearance certificates as a requirement for renewing drivers’ license.

Failure in rejection of 2.5% VAT

Despite all attempts made, the caucus could however not block the introduction of the 2.5% Value Added Tax. The VAT is intended to raise additional domestic revenue for the development of the country and especially for the construction of more roads.



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