Majority Leader denies meeting Justices of the SC over e-levy suit

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The Majority Leader in Parliament Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has denied meeting Justices of the Supreme Court over the suit filed by the Minority against the approval of the e-levy.

He said he takes a strong exception to insinuation by North Tongu Member of Parliament Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa that he “held secret meeting with the judges which equip him with the foreknowledge on what will be the outcome of the suit at the Supreme Court, which seeks to invalidate the passage of the Electronic Transfer Levy (e-levy).”

“Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa’s reckless insinuations, in addition to direct irresponsible allegations from him that the Majority Leader ‘Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has become the official mouthpiece of the Supreme Court’ are condemnable and destructive.”

This whole issue came up after the the Majority Leader who is also lawmaker for Suame said the injunction application filed against the implementation of the e-levy by the Minority at the Supreme Court, is an exercise in futility.

In his view, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmakers failed to exhaust the internal arrangements in Parliament to resolve disagreements over the approval of the bill.

On Tuesday April 19 the Minority in Parliament filed an application at the apex court to block the commencement of the e-levy deductions.

Hearing of the application will take place on May 4.

The Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta earlier revealed that the implementation of the e-levy would start in May this year.

“We had some meetings with Controller and Accountant Generals Department (CAGD) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and they have said right at the beginning of May they should be able to put their system together,” he told TV3’s Roland Walker in Parliament after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo delivered the State of the Nation Address on Wednesday March 30.

The E-levy was passed by Parliament on Tuesday March 29 after the third reading in the House. The Minority staged a walkout during the second reading. They walked out after Mr Iddrisu said the NDC MPs remain united in opposing the policy.

But speaking at a press conference with the Parliamentary press corps on Friday April 22, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who is also lawmaker for Suame said “They say they want to stop the implementation but the bill is already being implemented, I don’t know what they mean by that. Upon the assent of the President the bill, if Parliament has not postponed the operation, immediately after the assent it comes into operation.

“So, if you fall foul to it you can be prosecuted for falling foul to the bill that has been assented by the President. So this bill is in operation, the necessary structures are being put in place now, it doesn’t mean it is not being implemented, it is being implemented, if the Minister tells you that the actual collection starts from 1st May.

“I think we are beholding some dangerous spectacle in Ghana. Minority party and opposition party exist, Parliament as a whole must be putting government on its toes especially through its committee and if something untoward happens a committee or an individual or the caucus could raise the matter.

“The business of the house requires that these matters are mooted through parliament using the structures to challenge decisions that are taken. If you are saying that you don’t think it was an appropriate representation in the House and you have taken a decision you can come by a motion.

“The burden of proof is on them. On the injunction, I don’t want to pronounce on it but I guess you and I will know that it is going to be an exercise in futility. As far as I am concerned, let us endeavor to exhaust the processes and procedures in parliament, if you are not satisfied and you want to move further upstairs, yes. But at the say so of an individual that let us go to court, when the matter had not been dealt with in Parliament, it is a very dangerous precedent in this country.

“Let nobody convince or persuade himself that the NPP is going to be in government forever, the path that you are charting now will be there to haunt you tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Litigate your matter in Parliament , why are you afraid to litigate your matter in matter?”

Reacting to the Majority Leader, Mr Ablakwa said he was shocked by the comments.

“Very puzzling how Majority Group Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has become the official mouthpiece of the Supreme Court as he asserts that our case on the unconstitutional passage of the repugnant e-Levy is ‘dead on arrival.’

“What gives him such unabashed effrontery and what does he know that the rest of us do not know?Certainly the kind of condemnable conduct which undermines the independence and credibility of the judiciary — another transgression that would only aggravate the legitimate fears of National Security Minister Kan Dapaah,” he said.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana

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