Ms. Abena Osei-Asare, the Deputy Minister of Finance, has defended the new tax bills being presented to Parliament today.
She argued that these bills are urgently needed to support the government’s revenue mobilization efforts and to revive the struggling economy.
Ms. Osei-Asare stated that the passing of these bills will also help the government provide aid to vulnerable individuals who have been severely impacted by Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war.
“This is to support the economy to get back on track and implement the agenda of supporting the vulnerable who have been hit hard by Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war,” she said in an interview on Citi FM.
“Inasmuch as we are raising revenue, we also need to look at the vulnerable who have been hit hard and these are the revenues that we believe that if we raise we can use some to support them.”
She added that the bills are necessary for effective budget implementation and increasing Tax-to-GDP from less than 13% to the sub-Saharan average of 18%.
“As a country, we need to mobilise our own domestic revenue to pursue our own national development agenda and so these are some of the things we can do to raise revenue. As we speak if you compare the revenue we raise to our GDP we are still way below the West African target of below 16 to 18 per cent we are still doing 13 per cent and so there is more that we feel we can do.”
Today, Parliament will vote on several bills related to income tax, excise duty, excise tax stamp, growth, and sustainability levy.
If approved, these bills will allow for the implementation of the $3 billion IMF Programme staff-level agreement.
The government has completed various measures to meet the criteria set by the IMF, such as tariff adjustments, publication of the Auditor-General’s report on Covid-19 spending, and onboarding of various funds on the Ghana integrated financial management information system.
The international and domestic bond markets are currently closed, which means the government must rely on Treasury Bills and concessional loans to finance its programmes.
She argued that it was therefore critical for Parliament to consider and approve fiscal measures to help the country recover from the current economic crisis.
Gov’t to restrict importation of rice, ‘yemuadie’ and other products
The government is set to lay before Parliament today, November 21, a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) seeking to restrict the importation of selected strategic products into the country.
The items, numbering over 20, will include rice, tripe (popularly called “yemuadie” in Ghana), and diapers.
The government said the move is part of efforts to enhance local production.
Speaking during a press briefing in Parliament, the Minister of Trade and Industry, K.T Hammond said, “Stomach of animals, bladder and the chunk of intestines (yemuadie), the country had had to put in an amount of about $164 million towards the importation of these items. We are taking steps to ensure that in terms of rice, there’s no poverty of rice in the country.”
He emphasized, “By these restrictions, we are not going to ensure that there’s no food in the country at all; that is not the point at all. There have to be some efforts by the government to ensure that we go back to Acheampong’s operation feed yourself. There are about 22 items on the list, one of them, I think, is diapers.”
He announced the introduction of the Ghana Standards Authority Regulations 2023, which also seeks to streamline the manufacturing of cement to ensure competitive pricing.
Mahama doesn’t understand 24hr economy; don’t vote for him – Bawumia
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says former President John Dramani Mahama does not understand the 24-hour economy policy he is proposing.
According to the Vice President, that policy is already being implemented in the country, as hospitals, fuel companies, among others, operate a 24-hour system.
Dr. Bawumia, therefore, urged Ghanaians to ignore Mahama during the 2024 polls since he has nothing new to offer and vote for the New Patriotic Party.
“John Mahama says he has a new idea. What is the idea? He says he wants a 24-hour economy. He doesn’t even understand that policy. Today in Ghana, our hospitals work 24 hours, our electricity company works 24 hours, our water company works 24 hours, our fuel stations work 24 hours, and many chop bars work 24 hours. Today because of digitalisation, you can transfer money 24 hours, you can receive money 24 hours… So he doesn’t understand his own policy. It doesn’t make sense.”
“So I want you to vote for me in 2024 because I will bring a new vision, I will bring a new policy. Mahama is the past, Dr Bawumia is the future. If John Mahama was there, we would say we have a dumsor economy, you can’t have a 24-hour economy in dumsor. So, you want to vote for Dr Bawumia in 2024, we will take the country to new heights,” Dr Bawumia stated.
Bagbin rebukes IMF over alleged pressure to pass some bills under certificate of urgency
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of pressuring the House to pass a number of bills under a certificate of urgency.
Mr. Bagbin cited bills such as the Affirmative Action Bill, which is allegedly being pushed by the IMF as part of the conditionality for the balance of the $3 billion credit facility for Ghana.
Speaking at the Speaker’s Breakfast Meeting on Monday, Alban Bagbin insisted that the House will not be coerced by the IMF to pass the bill.
“Even in this budget, you can see the arm of the IMF in a lot of provisions in the budget. A critical bill like the Affirmative Action Gender Equality Bill has come to Parliament under a certificate of urgency. Please, it won’t happen; we won’t pass it under a certificate of urgency.”
“There are critical stakeholders we must consult and make sure we go together. We will not be dictated by the IMF; that one, you can be assured. This is a very critical bill that the IMF should know that we need the buy-in of the stakeholders to be able to implement it,” Alban Bagbin said.
The Affirmative Action Bill, when passed into law, would seek to expunge the historically low representation of women in decision-making spaces and promote democracy and development through all-inclusive participation.