The three revenue bills that are currently before Parliament awaiting approval or otherwise, do not have anything to do with the deal that Ghana is seeking to close with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Tamale Central Member of Parliament Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed has said.
He said a wrong impression has been created in the public domain that the bills need to be passed to enable the government to secure the deal.
The bills are the Income Tax Amendment Bill, Excise Duty Amendment Bill, and Growth and Sustainability Amendment Bill.
The government is seeking to pass these bills to generate approximately GH¢4 billion per year to supplement domestic revenue.
Speaking in an interview with TV3 in Parliament on Thursday, March 30, Murtala said “we think that it is unacceptable that they will overburden Ghanaians with such taxes. In any case, there is no reason why the government will want to burden the people of this country with more taxes.
“These taxes have nothing to do with the IMF arrangement and that is the story that has been peddled out there.
“Sometimes one gets extremely worried speaking on it, the good thing is that this vote is not going to be done through a secret ballot, it is going to be an open ballot so we are just hoping that we get our 136 and we are very convinced that the 136 are going to vote against those taxes.”
He also urged the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament who he said betrayed the party and Ghanaians for voting to approve the ministers last week, to redeem their image by voting to reject the bills.
“I think that the people of this country who we have let down with regards to how the voting was done on the approval of the Ministers, we have an opportunity to let people understand that certain individuals within our rank did what was not reflective of the entire caucus.
“I think that those who unfortunately betrayed the causes, they would have realized that considering the backlash and they need to make amends,” he said.
Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Dr Ernest Addison also urged the House to prioritize passage of the Bil.
He said that the Monetary Policy Committee noted that the budget statement for 2023 has set fiscal policy on a consolidation path.
He said this was consistent with key elements agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the Staff Level in December 2022.
The domestic debt exchange programme launched by the government, new revenue measures, and structural fiscal reforms will provide significant reduction of debt service and help create fiscal space, Dr Addison stated.
Addressing the 111th Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) press conference in Accra on Monday, March 27, he said the fiscal outlook is contingent on financing of the budget and will require the conclusion of the domestic debt exchange programme as well as securing the requisite financing assurances from bilateral donors. Indications are that these discussions are proceeding well.
“Based on the above, it is imperative that Parliament prioritizes the passage of the revenue bills currently before it,” Dr Addison said.
He further intimated that under the Staff Level Agreement with the IMF, the Bank of Ghana and the Ministry of Finance have finalised a Memorandum of Understanding on zero financing to the budget, which will be signed shortly.
“The passage of the relevant revenue bills by Parliament will therefore conclude the required prior actions to advance Ghana’s programme to the IMF Executive Board.
“This will be critical in resetting the economy on the path of recovery, including putting it firmly on a disinflation path and sustained growth,” he said.
Last week, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, led a high-level delegation from the ministry to China to engage in bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart and other Chinese officials.
The Finance Ministry said that Mr Ofori-Atta had very positive and encouraging meetings in China.
The Ministry said they were looking forward to securing external assurances very soon.
“So far had very positive and encouraging meetings in China! Looking forward to securing external assurances very soon, even as we pass our outstanding domestic revenue bills back home. Great progress on all fronts…#ResolvingTogether #GhanaFirst,” the Office of the Finance Minister tweeted on Friday.
Mr Ofori-Atta also mentioned to the Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme that has been introduced by the government as an indication that Ghana was ready to take the necessary action to readjust its fiscal path.
In response, Mr Kun said “we know that these are short-term challenges which we as responsible creditors remain committed to resolving” and that “the long-standing and prosperous relationship between Ghana and China imposes on us, a responsibility to help”.
The Chinese Finance Minister further said it was the hope of his country that Multilateral and Commercial creditors would also fully participate in the interest of burden sharing.
“Chinese authorities have confidence in Ghana’s economic management, and its long-term economic viability,” Mr Kun said.
He added “China believes in promoting debt sustainability and sustainable development,”
He said these when Mr Ofori-Atta, led a high-level delegation from the ministry to China to engage in bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart and other Chinese officials.
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana