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General News of Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Source: GNA

Controversy over bill's day enforcement stalls its maturity

Accra, Feb.01, GNA-The Internal Revenue (Amendment) Bill's progression through legislative processes suffered a hitch when the Majority and Minority got divided over when it could be enforced. The original date for the enforcement of the bill was January 31, 2006 but the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Abraham Osei Aidoo, had proposed January 01.

The purpose of the bill is to amend Internal Revenue Act 2000 to provide tax concessions, incentives and relief to businesses and other related issues to achieve the objective of the 2006 budget statement. It also introduces the principle of advance corporate tax under which taxes are paid upfront while assessments are being done. Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader said, the original date could not even be en forced because the constitution forbade retroactive legislation.

He said the proposed date would put burdens and obligations on the ordinary citizens of Ghana.

Mr Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Chief Whip, said since the fiscal year began on January 01 while the first quarter ended on March 31, it was only proper to amend the original date to January 01. Mr Ebenezar Sakyi Hughes, the Speaker proposed, a truce: the leadership of both the Majority and Minority should confer on the matter while the bill stayed frozen.

The Internal Revenue (Amendment) Bill, which was at the consideration stage, suffered ill fate right from the beginning.

The Minority had won its first victory after objecting to section Ten (two) of the bill that made it impossible for aggrieved persons to seek redress in a court of law and Ten (two) was deleted.

Though they agreed to the main principle of the bill, which is Advance Corporate Tax, they fought hard to win the support of the Majority on various amendments.

The Minority had earlier described portions of the bill as a lazy way of collecting tax while the Majority toasted it an effective way to dislodging tax evaders.

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