Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said the 2022 budget statement answers the most important issues on the minds of Ghanaians.
Contributing to a debate on the budget, he said, “By 2016, when the immediate past administration was leaving office, growth had come to as low as 3.4%. Until COVID hit us, this government was growing the economy at an average of 7% on year on year.
“What that meant was that a lot of young people were getting jobs in the private sector. Additionally, even in the public sector, the government of Ghana under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo ensured that at least about 300,000 young Ghanaians were recruited in the public sector both for those who are paid by the Controller and Accountant General and from those from the Non-Subverted Agencies.
“This is very different from the days we were told that because we were down to the bone and had gone to the IMF, we couldn’t have recruited people into the public sector.
“But what is even exciting is that in this 2022 budget, this administration has made available GHS1 billion to support young men and women who want to embark on their own business known as the YouthStart initiative. And so, Mr. Speaker, the most important issue on the minds of Ghanaians is being answered by the 2022 budget,” he added.
He told Parliament to approve the 2022 budget statement presented by the Minister of Finance because the document tackles the problems that the country is saddled with at the moment.
For instance, he said, the budget has special arrangement to address the issue of youth unemployment in the country.
This and several other reasons make it crucial for this budget to be approved by the House, the Ofoase Ayirebi lawmaker said.
“The most important question, unemployment is answered by this budget,” he said.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah further urged his colleagues in the Minority to approach the discussion on the budget from nationalistic perspective.
His admonishing comes after the Minority Spokesperson on Finance Casiel Ato Forson had said the 2022 budget statement is unacceptable.
Ato Forson also noted that the content of the budget is unrealistic.
Contributing to a debate on the budget in Parliament on Tuesday November 23, he said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration inherited a debt of GHS120 billion from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) but within four years, it has shot up to 341billion cedis
“In fact, if you do the maths, within four and half years you have incurred GHS221billion, representing almost 65 per cent of our GDP,” the lawmaker for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam said.
“This budget is the most inconsistent budget I have ever seen,” he said.
The Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta announced a new levy to be charged by government in 2022 on all electronic transactions to widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector.
“It is becoming clear there exists enormous potential to increase tax revenues by bringing into the tax bracket, transactions that could be best defined as being undertaken in the ‘informal economy’,” Mr Ofori-Atta observed on Wednesday, November 17 as he presented the 2022 budget statement in Parliament.
“After considerable deliberations, government has decided to place a levy on all electronic transactions to widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector. This shall be known as the ‘Electronic Transaction Levy or E-Levy’.”
He explained that the new E-levy will be a 1.75 per cent charge on all electronic transactions covering mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments and inward remittances to be borne by the sender except inward remittances, which will be borne by the recipient.
This will, however, not affect transactions that add up to GH¢100 pr less per day.
“A portion of the proceeds from the E-Levy will be used to support entrepreneurship, youth employment, cyber security, digital and road infrastructure among others.”
This new levy is scheduled to start Saturday, January 1, 2022.
In 2020, total value of transactions was estimated to be over GH¢500 million with mobile money subscribers and users growing by 16 percent in 2019.
According to a Bank of Ghana report, Ghana saw an increase of over 120 percent in the value of digital transactions between February 2020 and February 2021 compared to 44 percent for the period February 2019 to February 2020 due to the convenience they offer.
This was definitely heightened by the advent of Covid-19 especially during the lockdown.
John Mahama turns 63 today
The 2020 flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, is 63 years today.
The former president was born on November 29, 1958, in Damango to a politically active family.
His father, Emmanuel Adama Mahama, served as a Member of Parliament as well as a regional commissioner in the government of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah.
Wife of the former president, Lordina Mahama, has taken to social to celebrate her husband on the occasion of his birthday.
According to her, being the former president’s wife has been an incredible blessing to her.
“You have always made me proud as your wife. I thank God for your life and new age. Being your wife has been an incredible blessing to me. Our children and I pray that the Good Lord will continue to fill your heart with his presence and everlasting love. Happy 63rd, my love,” she said in a tweet on Monday November 29, 2021.
John Dramani is expected to seek re-election in 2024 to succeed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s administration having failed to do so in 2020.
He recently handed over a fully renovated dormitory block to his alma mater, Ghana Senior High School (GHANASCO) in Tamale on Friday, November 26, 2021.
Gov’t to use emergency funding request to run economy after rejection of 2022 budget
Following the rejection of the 2022 Budget by Parliament on Friday, questions have emerged as to whether the development means an automatic logjam for government business.
According to experts in such rare situations, the disgraced Akufo Addo administration is permitted under Article 180 of the Constitution to resort to emergency funding.
Per Article 180 of the 1992 Constitution, if the Appropriation Act, which is the Bill passed by Parliament after approving the budget, is unable to come into operation at the beginning of a financial year, the President, can seek approval of Parliament to authorize the withdrawal of funds to run government business.
The “prior approval” that will be required from Parliament will be in the form of a resolution and the amount of money that the President can withdraw should be enough to run the country for three months at a time until the Budget is approved by Parliament
Therefore, if by January 2022, the budget is not passed by Parliament, President Akufo-Addo can seek approval from Parliament and withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund to meet government expenditure for three months.
If after three months the budget is still not passed, then the President can, with the approval of Parliament, do another emergency withdrawal.
On Friday, a one-sided Parliament rejected the 2022 budget on account of the Minority NDC’s unmet demand for the unpopular e-levy to be removed and for government to make allocations towards the Keta Sea Defense project.
Article 178 of the 1992 Constitution gives Parliament the sole authority to approve funds for the government’s expenditure. According to it, “no money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated fund” except the money has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, or by a supplementary estimate approved by a resolution of Parliament or by an Act of Parliament”
Five issues Minority wants captured in a revised 2022 Budget
The Minority Caucus has highlighted five issues it wants a revised 2022 budget to address before it gives its support.
Parliament on Friday, November 26, 2021, rejected the 2022 budget after members of the Majority Caucus staged a walkout following disagreements over a vote on a last-minute request from Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to meet leadership of the house on the policy document.
Even though the Majority Caucus has asked Ghanaians to disregard the said rejection of the budget, the Minority has insisted that the document has been thrown out and there is nothing the Majority side could do about it.
In a statement issued on Sunday, November 28, 2021, and signed by Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority wants government to abandon the proposed electronic transaction levy and Agyapa royalties deal in its revised budget.
The Minority also wants the government to provide solutions for the ravaging tidal waves in Keta in the Volta Region and also review the benchmark values on imported products.
“We hope the NPP government will do what is right and proper when considering a revised budget. The NPP Government should critically take on board the view of the Minority and sentiments of the Ghanaian populace and bring a Budget that is acceptable and address the issues of the general public. The NDC Members of Parliament have no issue with approving a Budget that addresses the generality of the concerns of the Ghanaian people.”
Read the Minority’s full demands below:
The NPP Government should rather concentrate on bringing a revised Budget that will, among
others, address the following:
1. Suspend the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy): The Government should suspend the E-Levy and properly engage stakeholders to agree on a reasonable policy. How can mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances be charged 1.75 percent? The policy is not retrogressive, not pro-poor, and does not support the much-touted digitalisation agenda and cash-lite economy that we all yearn for.
2. Withdrawal of Agyapa: The NDC Minority will not support any collateralisation of our revenues, particularly mineral resources. The future of our country will be bleak if we continue in that regard. We cannot jeopardise the future generations of our country just for our present desires.
3. Provide for Tidal Waves Disaster: The Government should incorporate in its revised Budget adequate measures to address the issue relating to the Tidal Waves Disaster in Keta and other communities. The victims should be supported. And the Phase II of the Blekusu Coastal Protection Project must find space in the Budget.
4. Properly re-construct the wording relating to the Aker Energy: Relating to GNPC acquisition of stake from Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum, the revised Budget should reconstruct paragraph 829 of the rejected Budget to reflect the decision of the House as captured on 6th August 2021 Votes and Proceedings of Parliament.
5. Review the Benchmark Value for Imports: Government should, in a revised Budget, reconsider paragraph 247 of the rejected Budget which sought to restore the Benchmark Values of imports by suspending the 50 percent discount on selected General Goods and the 30 percent discount on vehicles. Some concession should be given to the importers.
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