Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has lamented the inability of the minority in parliament to deliver on its promise in chucking out the introduction of VAT in the country.
According to him, he is disappointed with the minority’s failure to kick against the approval of the tax component. That notwithstanding, he indicated that the minority is determined and poised, “with a high dose of patriotism and unquestionable integrity” to construct the country Ghanaians desire.
“Objectively and sincerely, despite an unwavering determination of the NDC Parliamentary Caucus to achieve all we set out to accomplish in solidarity with suffering Ghanaians, we lost the crucial VAT vote by a narrow 136-135. This is the only item on our 8-Point Must-Win-Agenda which we failed to deliver, and for which we are deeply pained. We did our very best but as they say, it’s always difficult to win everything. Nevertheless, we live to fight another day.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
Providing a summary of the minority’s successes on the 2023 budget approvals, Mr Ablakwa stated that items such as GHS1.3billion (€116million) Accra International Conference Centre Demolition and Redevelopment plans were scuttled and projections to establish new diplomatic missions in Jamaica, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago shot down.
Additionally, he stated that the GHS80 million “sleazy” allocation to President Akufo-Addo’s Cathedral was defeated and expunged from the Appropriation Act, while the GHS1.4 billion “mind-boggling’ request for the infamous Contingency Vote cut drastically to GHS533 million.
The North Tongu legislator further noted that the “anti-poor” proposal to remove the e-Levy threshold was defeated even as the parliament saw to the scrapping of a colossal GHS27.5 million allocation to the “wasteful and amorphous” Special Development Initiatives Secretariat and the needless Monitoring and Evaluation Secretariat all at the Office of the President.
Parliament decides on budget 2023
Among other things, the two Secretariats have therefore been virtually collapsed coupled with the defeat of the “repugnant tax measure” intended to compel drivers, particularly commercial drivers to produce tax clearance certificates as a requirement for renewing driver’s license.
Prior to this, Mr Ablakwa taking to his Facebook page stated that the NDC MPs blocked proposals by government to open new embassies abroad. Justifying his stance, he insisted that a “broke Ghana must know its priorities”.
It will be recalled that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, in presenting the 2023 Budget in November announced government’s decision to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) by 2.5 percent. This has moved the tax policy from its current percentage of 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent.
According to him, the review is to directly support road construction projects and the digitization agenda. Contrarily, the Minority opposed the introduction of an additional VAT rate, arguing that it will exacerbate the hardship of Ghanaians.
Nonetheless, debating the issue on the floor of Parliament, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Kwaku Kwarteng, touted the tax measure as key in turning around the fortunes of the economy. He stated that the reason of the Minority’s opposition has been considered and incorporated under paragraph 6.3 of the committee’s report.
Mr Kwarteng indicated that the recommendation by the committee was a majority decision. On the minority side, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson described the revenue measure as one which will worsen the plight of Ghanaians and is not needed during this period of economic hardship.