The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has led mediation talks between the leadership of the Majority and Minority Caucuses in Parliament to resolve the prevailing differences.
The meeting which also involved leading members of the Council of State was aimed to prevent any further violence in the Chamber as the E-levy Bill is set to be re-submitted to the House for debate and approval.
Addressing the meeting, the Chairman of the Council of State, Nana Otuo Serebour called on the Speaker to appreciate the challenges posed by the hung nature of the current Parliament and work to resolve the acrimonious relationship between the two divides of the House.
“Mr. Speaker, we want to support you to be the best Speaker that Ghana has ever had. We know that these issues that have happened are only ephemeral, and one day, you will look back at them with nostalgic feelings,” he noted.
For his part, Mr. Bagbin expressed confidence that the mediation talks would achieve the intended purpose and stated that his office is always open to the Council for advice. He added that he is grateful for the step taken by the members of the Council of State.
He added that he has planned to organise a workshop for the Parliamentary leadership and some elders to moderate and facilitate discussions this weekend.
“None of us is happy with the way things are going. We’ve never had such a hung Parliament before, and you know governance is usually run by the majority, so when you feel you have a majority, decision taking becomes a serious challenge,” he stated.
The Minority and Majority Causes are divided over the passage of the E-levy Bill. This, in some instances, generated chaos between MPs from both Caucuses in the chamber.
Earlier attempts to build consensus on the passage of the Bill have proved futile.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, presenting the 2022 budget on Wednesday, November 17, announced that government intends to introduce an electronic transaction levy (e-levy).
The levy, he revealed, is being introduced to “widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector”. This followed a previous announcement that the government intends to halt the collection of road tolls.
The proposed levy, which was expected to come into effect in January 2022, charges 1.75% on the value of electronic transactions. It covers mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances. There is an exemption for transactions up to GH¢100 per day.
Explaining the government’s decision, the Finance Minister revealed that the total digital transactions for 2020 were estimated to be over GH¢500 billion (about $81 billion) compared to GH¢78 billion ($12.5 billion) in 2016.
Thus, the need to widen the tax net to include the informal sector.
Although the government has argued that it is an innovative way to generate revenue, scores of citizens and stakeholders have expressed varied sentiments on its appropriateness, with many standing firmly against it.
Even though others have argued in support of the levy, a section of the populace believe that the 1.75% e-levy is an insensitive tax policy that will deepen the already prevailing hardship in the country.