Ghana’s 4th Republican Parliamentary democracy has been characterized by series of controversies and drama on the Floor of Parliament, especially during budget readings, State of the Nation Addresses and Mid-Year reviews.
It is time the nation hears new composition of music of various forms, placards with different interesting messages, name calling, etc.
One would tend to believe that it is these happenings that have steadily deepened our democracy to earn us the enviable accolade of ‘the beacon of democracy in the sub-Saharan Africa’.
This year’s Mid-Year Fiscal Review by the Finance Minister to the House was no exception.
The Minority started the day with shouts and songs, as the House began Public Business.
13 loan and related agreements were presented to the House, and the Minority raised ‘eyebrows’ on the number.
Ostensibly to show that 13 loan agreements were way too much for a government which had earlier touted to block loopholes in the revenue chain to fund important policy interventions, the Minority composed this phrase “1 day; 13 loans”, and made noise as the agreements were being laid.
The Minority later had to throw the House into a state of excitement as the Finance Minister took stage and supposedly failed to recognize the Vice President in his salutation after addressing the Speaker alone, opening a door for speculations.
It was the turn of the Majority side to also show that they have also been in opposition before by hutting at the Minority, when the Finance Minister announced that there will be no VAT increment.
The Vice President who graced the occasion, ushered the House into a state of shouts and excitement as he entered, with the Minority calling him all sort of names.
Meanwhile, in a related development, James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of the Public Accounts committee of Parliament and MP for Ketu North Constituency has accused the government through the Finance Minister, of increasing Value Added Tax (VAT) through the backdoor.
The Deputy Minority leader indicated that the Finance Minister was economical with the truth when he told the House that the VAT rate will not be increased.
He expressed his dissatisfaction about how the Finance Minister disingenuously increased VAT in spite of public outcry.
He revealed that the new system which will allow the GETFund and the NHIA fund to be levied on their own would rather be more costly than what used to be.
“The impact is greater than even imposing a 1 or 2% VAT rate extra. Consumers are going to pay more Instead”. He added.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Attah in his presentation of the mid-year budget review indicated that, the government will be converting the GETFund of 2.5% and NHIA fund also of 2.5% on the VAT to a straight levy of 2.5% in both occasions.
A new tax on luxury vehicles and high income earners (those earning above Gh¢10,000) was also announced by the Finance Minister.
There were heightened speculations that VAT was going to be increased from 17.5% to 21% to cater for revenue shortfalls, a case rubbished by the Finance Minister, who announced that there would be no increment in VAT.
Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, however, advised the government to stick to its own promises on tax.
He also advised the government to put measures in place to expand the tax net instead.
The Deputy Finance Minister and Member of Parliament for Obuasi, Hon. Kweku Kwarteng also indicated that the new tax regime announced by the Finance Minister is progressive and would help in the revenue generation of the government.
He however admitted that consumers would pay a little higher than they used to pay, with the introduction of this tax regime.
He admitted the changes in the VAT regime as announced by the Minister will make the consumer pay slightly higher on products than they used to pay.