On Tuesday, 29th March, 2022, the E-levy bill was passed in parliament, while the minority walked out of parliament in protest. The minority’s reaction is a reflection of the larger population’s response to the E-levy bill. A mixture of misunderstanding of the levy and financial frustrations in the economy incited a negative uproar ever since the E-levy was announced.
Ghana’s finance minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta proposed a 1.75% on Electronic Transaction during the 2022 budget reading on the 17th of November 2022. Following this, the public outcry was in opposition of the levy, in a bid to reduce the financial burden on Ghanaians. According to uncdf.org, mobile money has made great strides in increasing access to digital financial services in Ghana and bridging the financial inclusion gap. That gap may very well widen, now that citizens’ financial habits will change with the passing of the levy.
According to the UN Capital Development Fund, best practices suggest that vulnerable groups should be at the center of such policy making, to leave no one behind in the digital era; board consultations and public-private dialogue are needed to inform the action; weighted waivers could be considered to provide solutions that take into account user profiles and transaction types.
Research by Adu Owusu Sarkodie from the University of Ghana stated that the average growth rate of total government revenue and grants has fallen sharply from 32.6% (2009-2012) to 19.9% (2013-2016) and 14.6% (2017-2020) and the total revenue as a ratio of GDP currently stands at 16%. This is lower than the sub-Saharan average of 25% of GDP. Ken Ofori Atta, Ghana’s finance minister during the reading of the proposed e-levy bill saying; “it would widen the country’s tax net, increase the country’s monetary value, and help recover the country’s economic wellbeing”.
The E-levy is estimated to generate a sum of GHS 7 billion. According to the finance minister, the country’s total digital transactions for 2020 were estimated to be over GH¢500 billion (about US$81 billion) compared to GH¢78 billion (US$12.5 billion) in 2016. The levy will be applied to mobile money payments bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances (MoF 2022 Budget Highlights). All charges will be borne by the sender except in the case of inward remittances where the charge will be borne by the recipient.
The minority in parliament stormed out during the proceedings, claiming the E-levy was not in Parliament’s business statement for the week, in spite of the fact that minutes from the meeting suggest that E-Levy was on the agenda. (View Attached Image)
The Tamale MP expressed his displeasure in the Majority Party, springing up the levy as a surprise when the minority were lesser in number in parliament. The minority who had not been in favor of the bill believe it will bring untold hardship to the populace.
After the NDC members of parliament left the chamber, the speaker of parliament Alban Bagbin stated that both the Majority’s motion for the passing of the bill and the Minority’s decision to walk out of the chamber came as a surprise to him.
According to JoyNews he warned saying, “When you keep on giving surprises to the Speaker, the Speaker will also give you surprises”. The average Ghanaian who relies on mobile money for their day-to-day transactions will now have less money to spend, taking into consideration the increased cost of living, transportation and income, considering they will be paying more charges.
What is your E-levy woe and how is it affecting you?
Written By: Kate Akua Ampomah