The Executive Director of Africa Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), Dr Rasheed Draman, has called on the Majority and the Minority sides of Ghana’s Parliament to soften their stances on the Electronic Transaction Levy, known as E-levy Bill for a smooth democratic process.

According to him, the current posture of the two dominant parties in parliament is not healthy for the country young democracy and that there should be proper consensus building to move the nation forward.

Speaking to EXPRESSNEWSGHANA, on the fistfight that ensued among Members of Parliament on Monday night of December 20, 2021, when they were voting in a headcount to decide whether the E-levy Bill should be considered under a certificate of urgency, Dr Draman said the Leadership of both sides has failed to coordinate affairs to ensure that work goes on efficiently, regardless of the hung nature of the House.

Dr Rasheed Draman

“I think relations between the leadership and the entire caucus is broken in this 8th Parliament. And the leadership should sit down together to work it out.

“If you look at the events of the beginning of this 8th Parliament, and you follow the conversation, and the posturing, one perhaps will conclude that what we saw yesterday is not surprising and, in fact, it is possible that things may even get worse as we go along,” Dr Draman stated.

He said, in parliamentary democracy, negotiation is one of the key process and tool being used in reaching an amicable decision for businesses of the House, but currently the relations between the two sides is broken.

For the House to transact the smooth business of the government, Dr Draman noted that there is the need for the two sides, especially the Majority to eat the humble pie and compromise in a certain stance, as they engaged the minority side to reach consensus.

“It is obvious the relations between the Majority and the Minority is broken and I don’t think this is good for our democracy. I will say that the two sides should soften their stance, jaw and move forward,” Dr Draman stated.

He said it is worrying that the event of January 7, 2021, would pop up during the consideration of the E-levy Bill which should have been dealt with in a more democratic process.

Chaos in Parliament

The two sides entrenched position on the Bill, he said is not helpful and expressed the hope that the leadership would see the need to put their heads together and come out with a solution to end the acrimonious relations for the national interest.

The chaos started after opposition MPs rushed forward to prevent Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei Owusu from leaving his seat to vote to determine the agency of the Bill.

The Deputy Speaker who is the incumbent MP for Bekwei in the Ashanti region was chairing the session, which was then adjourned because of the disorder.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has rejected the proposed levy of 1.75% on electronic transactions, which includes mobile-money payments.

The Minority is of the view that it will hit low-income people and those outside the formal banking sector.

But the Majority side of the House said it is necessary to widen the tax net, arguing that it could raise an extra 6.9bn Ghanaian cedi ($1.15bn; £870m) next year.

One seat is held by an independent, who has thrown his weight behind the governing NPP, giving it the edge.

In January, soldiers entered parliament to end a brawl among MPs over the election of a speaker – the NDC’s Alban Bagbin was elected to the post after some NPP members voted for him rather than the NPP’s Mike Oquaye.

Mr Bagbin was not present during the chaotic session on Monday, leaving Mr Owusu from the NPP in the speaker’s chair.

The 12 NDC members on the Committee had voted against the Bill while the 12 NPP members, excluding the Chairman of the Committee, had voted in favour.

The tie was broken by the Chairman of the Committee who in the exercise of his casting vote, voted in favour of the Bill.

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, presenting the 2022 Budget on Wednesday, November 17, announced that the government intends to introduce an electronic transaction levy (e-levy).

The levy, he revealed is being introduced to “widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector”. This followed a previous announcement that the government intends to halt the collection of road tolls.

The proposed levy, which will come into effect in 2022, is a charge of 1.75% on the value of electronic transactions. It covers mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances. There is an exemption for transactions up to GH¢100 per day.

Explaining the government’s decision, the Finance Minister revealed that the total digital transactions for 2020 were estimated to be over GH¢500 billion (about $81 billion) compared to GH¢78 billion ($12.5 billion) in 2016. Thus, the need to widen the tax net to include the informal sector.

Source: expressnewsghana.com

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