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General News of Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Source: GNA

Minority rejects Platinum’s $23.9 million tax waiver request

Speaker of Parliament, Aaron Michael Oquaye play videoSpeaker of Parliament, Aaron Michael Oquaye

The Minority in Parliament Tuesday rejected the adoption of the Finance Committee’s report to approve US$23,983,033, being tax waiver on materials, plant, machinery and equipment by Platinum Properties Limited.

The materials would be used for the Pullman Accra Airport City Hotel and Serviced Apartment.

The report has, however, been put on hold for further discussion by the committee.

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, gave the directive for the Committee of the Whole to sit on the proposed report before inviting the Second Deputy Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin to be in the chair.

The Committee of the Whole is formed to consider matters coming before the main body in an informal manner. It is the same body transacting business in an informal instead of a formal manner under strict rules.

The Speaker’s directive for the House to go on a Committee of the Whole sitting followed an intervention by Mr John Jinapor, a Member of Parliament’s Finance Committee and MP for Yapei Kusawgu, who served notice to the plenary that the Minority would not be part of the process of adopting the report, which he described as an “illegality.”

He said the attempt to grant Platinum Properties Limited a tax relief status when in actual fact it did not meet the criteria was an abuse of the taxpayer’s money.

Furthermore claims that Pullman City Hotel was positioned to become Ghana’s largest and most distinguished hotel facility was not supported by the facts of the Committee’s report, Mr Jinapor said.

He said the assertion by government that the project would generate substantial amount of taxes over the initial period of operation, when there was no investment appraisal, did not guarantee that it would be profitable.

“There is no evidence to indicate that this project when undertaken would be profitable,” he said.

Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, commenting on the Committee’s report, debunked assertions in the public domain that the President, on his own, granted a tax waiver to Platinum Properties Limited.

He argued that if the President had done that then there would be no need to bring the transaction to Parliament.

He said the process the House was taking the report through showed that the commentary in the public domain was not factual.

“Because, Mr Speaker, in accordance with the Constitution, no President on his own has the power to grant a tax waiver to a company…” he added.

Mr Nkrumah said if the Legislature was of the view that the company did not qualify for the tax waiver, The House was at liberty to reject it.

He noted that in the past similar strategic investor status and accompanying tax incentives were given to other companies without recourse to Parliament.