91% of Ghanaians don’t support E-levy – Prof Abdulai tells gov’t

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta

Senior Advisor at the Africa Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption, Professor David Abdulai has revealed that 91 per cent of Ghanaians are not in favour of the proposed Elevy.

He said this on the Key Points on TV3 Saturday March 5.

He further raised issues against the strategy that was adopted by the Finance Ministry regarding the proposal. He said the failure of the Ministry to engage stakeholders prior to the introduction of the policy was wrong because that meant putting the cart before the horse.

In his view, the ongoing nationwide town hall meetings should have been done before the proposal was submitted to Parliament.

Speaking on the Key Points on TV3 Saturday March 5, he said “The strategy of the Finance Ministry is wrong. What they did is to put the cart before the horse. This is not the time to now go around trying to hold town hall meetings, get buy-ins from Ghanaians. They should have done that much earlier before the bill was introduced in Parliament. So the pressure on the speaker, in my opinion, is misplaced.

“I am saying strategy-wise they should have done it much earlier and then you actually engage the NDC members in Parliament before you even bring it to the floor. Good luck to them but I don’t think the pressure is fair to the Speaker.

“The speaker will do his best but I think Ghanaians have already made it very clear, 91 per cent of the populace have made it clear they are not interested in the E-levy. The Majority leader mentioned a few days ago that they never expected such resistance even though they knew.”

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Meanwhile, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has expressed shock at the rejection of the E-levy by some youth of this country including some free senior high school beneficiaries.

He asked whether they know what the cost of rejecting the E-levy will be, given that the government needs resources to fund the programme and other initiatives.

Speaking at the Government’s 3rd Townhall meeting to sensitize the public on the need for the E-levy to be passed by Parliament in Tamale on Thursday February 10, he said “If  I look at  E-levy for instance, and I say that  this year we intend to collect 7billion cedis  and I look at  mobile money  subscribers  and there are over 21million  of us.

“So assuming I divide  this 7billion  by 21million  of us , it is about 300 cedis  a year  for each person, divide by 12.

“So when I see the energy especially with which graduates  who have gone through free senior high  are against  E-levy,  I ask whether the  they are calculating  what the cost is.  And I ask  in truthfulness that  does any graduate  make more than  8000 or 5000?

“Assuming you are a graduate and you even made  100,000 cedis a year  and you transfer  all of that through MoMo, how much will that be? 10 per cent of 100,000  is 10,000 , so a third of that is  3000. So  3000 cedis  for your roads , for your free education , for all of that  and you are up in arms.

“So truly who should be paying for it? You have every responsibility to ask me to account for it. But we as a people, we can’t pretend that we don’t need these  resources to do what we are doing. No graduate makes 100,000 cedis a year.”

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Regarding calls to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr Ofori-Atta insisted that Ghana would not return to the Bretton Woods institution for support in order to deal with the challenges that the local economy is going through at the moment.

Doing so, he said, will have dire consequences.

He also indicated that Ghana had the capacity to raise domestic revenue for development. The government has been called upon to return to the IMF for support instead of relying on the proposed E-levy for revenue.

For instance, a former Member of Parliament for New Juabeng South, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah believed that a return would rescue Ghana’s struggling economy.

“Without a doubt, I think we should be placing a call to Washington if we haven’t really done that. We are just not going to ask for the funds just because E-levy has been passed or not. E-levy will just bring about GH¢5 billion. We are in a deep hole of our tax revenue and facing difficulties, so going to the Fund will give us some support.

“So there is nothing wrong with going to the Fund.  Ghana is a member of the IMF so what is wrong going to ask for support when we are in difficulties to go and pool resources.  If I was the finance minister, I will be convincing the President that it is about time we went back,” he told Citi.

Mark Assibey Yeboah also added that the revenue expected to be accrued from the E-levy is to ensure the economic stability government is eyeing.

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He further cast doubt on the government’s ability to raise the projected GH¢6.9 billion target, saying the maximum the government can raise from the controversial e-levy is GH¢5 billion.

“The GH¢6.9 billion target cannot be realized. There are a lot of exemptions so, in my estimation, the maximum amount we can get from the E-levy is GH¢5 billion, and that is less than a billion dollars, so I do not think that the E-levy is going to be a panacea to our revenues. Going to the IMF will ensure some stability and above all, we are going to get some $3 billion”.

The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Johnson Asiedu Nketia also made similar call to the government.

Asked whether President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo should go to the IMF, while speaking on the New Day show on TV3 on Monday February 7, he answered “I think it is something that they have to consider. if it is the only that will take us out of this problem then the earlier the better.”

But Mr Ofori-Atta who had earlier stated that the government would not go back to the IMF insisted that “I can tell you, as my colleague deputy said, we are not going back to the IMF, whatever we do we are not [going back]. The consequences are dire, we are a proud nation, we have the resources , we have that capacity, don’t let anybody tell you … we are not people of short-sighted, we need to move on,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana