The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has disclosed that nothing untoward was done in the passage of the controversial revenue bills.
According to him, despite the absence of the Member of Parliament for Nanton, Mohammed Hardi Tuferu, who was involved in an accident on Friday while on his way to Parliament to partake in a vote on the financial bills under consideration, due process was followed.
The MP was driven to the House in an ambulance with the Whips on both sides of the House directed by the Speaker to confirm the situation. Subsequently, Mr Bagbin after proceedings clarified why the legislator was counted as part of the votes.
”Members who are incapacitated shall upon reporting their incapacity to the Speaker through the Clerk shall be recorded. We have some of our members that are incapacitated and what I did was to ask the Whips to go and physically see them to assess their incapacitation and whether they are of sound mind. I did not do anything untoward. I only followed the rules.”Alban Bagbin
Parliament passes new tax bill
Meanwhile, Parliament has passed the Excise Duty Amendment Bill 2022, the Growth and Sustainability Levy Bill, 2022, the Ghana Revenue Authority Bill 2022 and the Income Tax Amendment Bill 2022.
The financial bills presented to Parliament by the government seeks to rake in about 4 billion Ghana Cedis annually as part of domestic revenue mobilization. The bills are also crucial to aid the government’s quest to facilitate the Board Approval for the $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme.
Prior to this, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, appealed to Parliament to pass the three bills to help in facilitating the deal that Ghana is seeking under the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Speaking at a forum, he stated that Parliament, in the national interest, will pass these bills before the close of the week and it will not be seen as disloyalty to anyone party.
The Minority in Parliament earlier communicated its opposition to the bills. Cape Coast South legislator, George Ricketts-Hagan, ahead of the votes expressed the Minority caucus’ commitment to resisting the bills as a bold statement to the government that it cannot be reckless with its expenditure and expect Ghanaians to pay the price.
Mr. Ricketts-Hagan indicated that the procedure to have the bills either rejected or approved is different from what occurred with the approval of the President’s ministerial nominees. With this, he explained that if the government really wants to raise revenue, it must then cut down its extravagant and reckless spending and not continue to burden Ghanaians with more taxes that have no basis.
Earlier, various stakeholders and institutions such as the Ghana Federation of Labours (GFL) called on Parliament to engage critical industry stakeholders prior to any action on the new taxes and excise bill that are yet to be approved.
According to the Federation, the country is facing a financial crisis which has caused a high cost of living for the citizens, thus the need for Parliament to take careful consideration in passing the bills.
The GFL stated that it had earlier issued a petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, on February 3, in which his attention was drawn to the amount of taxes being paid by “distressed businesses,” and the harm a possible increment in taxes will pose on investments.
The Ghana Federation of Labours also expressed disappointment in Parliament for approving President Akufo-Addo’s six ministerial appointees. It explained that Parliament by constitutional mandate is expected to check and avoid the implementation of policies that threaten businesses.
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