Cassiel Ato Forson
The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament has predicted tax on mobile money transactions in the 2018 budget statement to be read by the Finance Minister tomorrow.
According to the minority, the taxation on mobile money transactions constitutes a serious threat to financial inclusion and economic growth in the country, warning that it would fiercely resist any attempt by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government on that move.
The NDC issued the warning at a ‘Breakfast Meeting’ with civil society and stakeholders in parliament yesterday on the economy to preview the 2018 fiscal policy of the government.
The meeting was attended by some gurus of the opposition NDC, including two presidential hopefuls – Ekow Spio-Garbrah and Sylvester Menash.
The main speaker was the spokesperson on finance for the minority, Cassiel Ato Forson, who is also the MP for Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam in the Central Region.
He predicted doom for the country akin to the 1983 famine that hit the country.
“This mobile money transaction tax is regressive, because compared to the relatively affluent non-core financial services that the New Patriotic Party government removed for the relatively rich, this insensitive ‘mobile money umbrella tax’ will seriously affect millions of Ghanaians who use their telephones to transfer small amounts to relatives,” the spokesperson said, stressing that it is an indirect way of taxing mobile money transactions such as schools fees and medical bills which ought not be taxed.
The NDC reminded the government to continue to be tax sensitive to the poor and provide some relief to low-income families.
On austerity, Mr Ato Forson quizzed, “How can you create jobs under severe austerity under fiscal consolidation? The budget deficit in IMF Article 4 is projected to be 3.8, so ladies and gentlemen, next year, let us be assured that there will be severe austerity equivalent to 1983. How can you create jobs when you have mandated the Central Bank to pursue tight monetary policy? How can you create jobs when the real sector, the non-oil GDP, is projected to grow in 2018 almost at the same level as 2016?”
He said debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to hit 73.6 percent.
The minority also wants the government to remove the 2% component of the Special Import Levy in the impending budget, because it would not get the support of the minority to continue to keep that tax since the government made the whole world to believe that it had scrapped it.
The NDC is also asking the government to fulfill its pledge of reducing the corporate tax rate from 25% to 20% as presented in the 2017 budget.
The Minority wants the Finance Minister, in presenting the budget, to let Ghanaians know that for GCB Bank to take over distressed UT Bank and Capital Bank, it would receive GH¢2 billion worth of government bonds to balance its assets and liabilities which Ghanaian taxpayers will eventually pay.
The party indicated at the forum that all the targets set in the 2017 budget statement – in the areas of ‘one district, one factory,’ ‘one village, one dam,’ ‘$1 million for each constituency,‘ ‘Free SHS’ and many more, could not be met and therefore there is no way the 2018 budget would reduce hardship in the country.
The Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said that the NDC was taking opposition to a ‘digital’ level and would constantly engage with stakeholders and civil society on government policies and scrutinise them to see whether they are serving the interest of Ghanaians or not.
“Contrary to the president’s assertion that 2018 will create jobs, we, in the minority, believe that the 2018 budget cannot create jobs because the commercial banks do not have the needed liquidity to lend to the private sector, while there is severe austerity and non-oil GDP is projected to grow 2018 almost at the same level as in 2016.”
By Thomas Fosu Jnr