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General News of Saturday, 26 February 2022


Ofori-Atta has become E-levy antagonist by his ‘no money’ comment – Opoku-Agyemang

Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang

The Vice Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 elections, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang has said that Ghanaians need prudent economic management from the leaders in order to salvage the economy, not the E-levy.

According to her, a comment by the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta that there is no money, makes him one of the persons opposing the E-levy.

“Alternatives have been proposed to replace the controversial E-levy … If what the Minister of Finance is saying is true, and since he hasn’t denied it, I have no reason to doubt him that the government has no money. How can the poor citizens have money? By his own admission, he has unwittingly joined those opposing the E-levy. What we need is proper economic management,” she said at an event in Accra on Friday February 25.

Mr Ofori-Atta admitted that there is no money.

According to him, although demands by public sector workers for salary increment is legitimate, the government has no money at the moment to meet the requests hence efforts to generate domestic revenue.

Speaking in Wa in the Upper West Region during the fourth townhall meeting on the E-levy, on Monday February 21, he said “I look at teachers and civil servants for example, and I will be the first to admit that the salaries are indecent, nobody will argue with that. At the same time, 60 per cent of all the revenue we collect from 700,000 people [go into salary payment,] that is also a fact.

“So yes, there is a legitimate demand for more and there is a legitimate reality that there is no money. So what do we do as a society? Then you ask me to give you more salary, which is fine, then I say, but it is your colleague civil servants who collect the money who are not collecting the money, so how can you responsible for collecting the money, not collect it and then tell me to give you the money. That will be another issue.”

He reiterated the need for Ghanaians to support moves by the Akufo-Addo-led government to impose a tax on electronic transactions.

Initially proposed to be pegged at 1.75 percent, the government has now reviewed the rate to 1.5 percent but the levy is still facing resistance by a section of the Ghanaian public and the Minority in Parliament.

The government has since been on a tour of the country engaging the public in what has been christened ‘Government Townhall Meeting on E-Levy’ aimed at rallying support for the proposed tax policy.

Mr. Ofori-Atta said government needs the money to be able to take care of critical government expenditure in addition to building infrastructure and creating jobs.

He said even though the E-Levy may not bring in a lot of money, what would be realized should be enough to support the government.

He added that had the Minority not resisted the policy, government would have started realizing money which would have been used to pay District Assembly Common Fund.

“E-levy as small as you might think, it will be GH¢7 billion, starting this year if we had started early so we could pay your District Assembly Common Fund but your [opposition] sitting on it,” he said.

The Minister observed that majority of the Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 11 constituencies in the Upper West are NDC and that he is not surprised they do not support the e-levy.

“If I look at Upper West where we have 11 constituencies…we have 340,000 people being youth with serious issues of unemployment with eight of our MPs coming from the NDC. What reason will they have to support an e-levy which is looking about GH¢10 billion intervention called YouStart which is looking at getting to the heart of employment,” he said.

“Hate NPP all you want but what about your 340,000 youth who need jobs? What is the reason?” he wondered.