The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has said that government has begun talks with telecommunication networks to reduce the impact of the proposed Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy) announced in the 2022 budget.
The levy is proposed as a charge of 1.75 percent on the value of electronic transactions. It will cover mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances.
Speaking on the floor of a one-sided Parliament on Tuesday, following the absence of minority MPs, Mr. Ofori-Atta said, “The E-Levy enables us to tackle three issues: debt sustainability, infrastructure, and employment. We have 11m youth, and we have in this budget introduced the largest youth programme of GH¢10bn to ensure that the entrepreneurial nation that we seek will be achieved.”
He continued, “The issue of living standards is a problem that concerns us, and we are in discussions with the telcos to scale back to moderate the impact so that in the end, the impact on the citizenry will be manageable.”
A parliament boycotted by the minority voted to approve the 2022 budget on Tuesday, after the House had earlier rescinded last Friday’s rejection of the budget.
In the absence of the minority MPs, the Finance Minister submitted a revised version of the 2022 budget, which was unanimously approved by the majority MPs.
The start of the day’s proceedings had been delayed by hours of meetings between the majority and minority leaderships aimed at resolving their disagreements to ensure the budget’s approval by both sides.
On Friday, November 26, the minority caucus had voted to reject the budget after the majority caucus staged a walkout. The majority side subsequently accused the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, of acting in breach of the 1992 constitution by allowing the 137 MPs of the minority to take a decision to reject the budget last Friday.
The minority, among other reasons for rejecting the budget, demanded the suspension of the E-Levy and the Agyapa Royalties deal.
Minority objects to approval
Meanwhile, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has said the approval of the 2022 budget by the majority constitutes a nullity, basing his argument on Sections 1, 2 and 3 of Article 104 of the 1992 constitution.
“The majority say they respect the constitution and the standing orders of the House. Today I am particularly disappointed in the conduct of the First Deputy Speaker, having to include himself in order to meet their mandatory 138 [members] without recourse to the standing orders and the 1992 constitution,” he said in an address to the media.
“The Speaker for the day, Joe Osei Owusu, MP for Bekwai, had no locus to count himself among the MPs; therefore, as far as we are concerned, today’s vote reflected another 137. They have set a precedent that will come and haunt them in future,” he added.