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Minority has no alternative to 2022 Budget – NPP

John Boadu We've Won.png John Boadu is General Secretary of the NPP

Tue, 30 Nov 2021 Source: starrfm.com.gh

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has described as problematic the Minority in Parliament posturing towards the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy of the Government.

The governing party says the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority are “deceptively behaving” as if their reaction to the budget is for the good of the Ghanaians people.

According to the NPP, on the matter of the e-levy, they (NPP) believe sincerely that it is the most sustainable way forward for boosting public finances at this time.

“The e-levy, as proposed, offers the opportunity to break out into a future of self-mobilized and self-controlled resources. Note that the NDC ultimatum does not seek cancellation of the e-levy. It rather talks about suspension for consultation.

“So it is clear the NDC appreciates the wisdom of the e-levy but is posturing for public acclaim rather than biting the bullet. Ghana’s growing democratic practice demands that we all ask the NDC for their tax and public funding alternatives,” the NPP General Secretary, John Boadu stated during a press conference held at the NPP Headquarters in Accra, Monday, 29th November, 2021.

The Minority Caucus in Parliament has outlined five demands they want considered before they give support for the 2022 budget.

It comes after they rejected the budget last Friday following long hours of disagreement between them and the Majority.

Among others, the Minority is asking the government to suspend the controversial E-levy and also withdraw the Agyapa deal from the budget.

Below are the demands of the Majority

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Below is the NPP’s full press statement

DOES MINORITY CAUCUS HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE 2022 BUDGET PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NPP GENERAL SECRETARY, MR. JOHN BUADU AT KOFORIDUA IN THE EASTERN REGION, 29TH NOVEMBER 2021.

Good afternoon friends and the good people of Ghana, thank you for coming.

This afternoon, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) seeks to add its voice towards constructive resolution of the situation in Parliament concerning the 2022 Budget Statement.

First, it is necessary to address the tone of a document circulating on social media, titled as “A Press Release” and dated 28th November 2021. It has the name of the Minority Leader in Parliament, Honourable Haruna Iddrisu, typed under it.

If it is deemed authentic, the document appears on the face of it to advise a way forward on the matter of the 2022 budget. However, deeper reading shows that it is essentially gloating about the number of National Democratic Congress (NDC) members of Parliament being able to use their Parliamentary numbers to block Government business and assumes the right to determine a ‘Budget’ for the Government.

The document stresses that the current composition of Parliament makes it a ‘Hung Parliament’, and therefore, to the NDC, the rules of engagement have changed. In seeking to project new rules, the NDC Minority seems determined to move beyond the constitutional rights and duties of a minority caucus as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament.

It is no secret that the Minority intended to reject the Budget statement as a show of political force. To the Minority, the near even number of members in Parliament is an opportunity to obstruct the Government’s financial statement for political embarrassment. The Minority NDC could care less if this posture leads to a crisis of payments, including salaries, as long as they believe they look politically good.

Advancing their assumed advantage of numbers further, the document being referred to lists a set of demands in the nature of an ultimatum to the Government. That, in its true intent, could be construed as usurpation of the President’s constitutional power to present budget statements to the house. The NDC’s attempt to dictate the content of a budget statement from opposition is an assault on the clear provisions of the 1992 Constitution. Article 58 vests executive authority in the President. Per the executive authority, the President is empowered to present the budget under Article 179.

Article 93 (2) vests legislative power in Parliament, but it does not allocate the right to Parliament to write budgets or to force the hand of the Executive in relation to the budget the way the NDC is going about it. Indeed, Article 108 expressly limits the area of financial determination, especially imposition of taxes and expenditure to the President. Arguably, the combined effect of Parliamentary intervention in respect of taxes may be to seek a reduction. Parliament is not entitled to reject a budgetary tax measure of the Executive because it is “unreasonable”, as the NDC have referred to the E-levy. ‘Unreasonableness’ is not a constitutional or legislative ground for refusal to approve a budget statement.

Furthermore, legislative authority to make proposals under Article 103 (3) does not extend to proposals in the nature of the imposition of expenditure. That is expressly prohibited by Article 108. Therefore, the NDC’s ultimatum demanding for explicit inclusion of funds for disaster relief may be overreaching the constitutional authority of the Minority in Parliament.

These are examples of the havoc that a misuse of the notion of a ‘hung Parliament’ can cause. If indeed the NDC purports to love the Republic as it seems to be saying in its statement, then the best way forward would be to continue with the Parliamentary process and consider the Budget statement per Standing Order 140 (4) and (5), which gives Parliament enough room to bring forward objections to any provision of the budget within the limits of the Constitution. Otherwise, the current posture of the NDC Minority Caucus is problematic for constitutional development.

On the matter of the e-levy, the NPP believes sincerely that it is the most sustainable way forward for boosting public finances at this time.

Traditionally, governments have relied on petroleum levies to plug gaps in recurrent expenditure and concessionary loans as well as grants and commercial loans to fund infrastructure. But experience shows that petroleum levies do not bring in much relative to the general price inflation that occurs upon imposition. So petroleum levies hurt the economy. Now that supply chain bottlenecks worldwide are causing petroleum prices to rise; it is not in the interest of Ghana that a levy is imposed on petroleum at this time.

Grants and loans do not come in amounts capable of tackling the infrastructure gap with the vigour and consistency required to anchor growth. In plain words, borrowing is not a sustainable, adequate and consistent way of funding for developing our infrastructure rapidly. Worse, it often comes with long strings attached. Borrowing costs also burden the economy unnecessarily, with debt servicing impeding critical public investments.

The e-levy, as proposed, offers the opportunity to break out into a future of self-mobilized and self-controlled resources. Note that the NDC ultimatum does not seek cancellation of the e-levy. It rather talks about suspension for consultation. So it is clear the NDC appreciates the wisdom of the e-levy but is posturing for public acclaim rather than biting the bullet. Ghana’s growing democratic practice demands that we all ask the NDC for their tax and public funding alternatives. Does the NDC accept that petroleum levies and borrowing are not sustainable? Is the NDC prepared to think outside the box? What alternatives can they offer the Ghanaian people? These are legitimate questions.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we have previously observed, the innovative approaches to revenue generation adopted by the 2022 budget can lead to major revenue changes for public finances in Ghana if implemented effectively. Public concerns about transparency in the collection and use of the revenue are what all well-meaning Ghanaians must address. Genuine concerns about implementation gaps can be addressed in a spirit of goodwill.

In other words, monies collected in Ghana on the e-levy for infrastructure ought to go to empower the Ghanaian economy to create jobs, incomes, and taxes in Ghana. We have a value chain of trained engineers, cost accountants and constructors who ought to be able to design, construct and deliver high quality, big job public infrastructure. We need to have confidence in our own. Ultimately, that is what the e-levy is about.

The NDC also indicates opposition to the restoration of the benchmark values to the normal levels. What that means is that imported bottled water will continue to be cheaper than locally processed and bottled water. Imported machetes will continue to be cheaper than those manufactured in Ghana. Imported iron rods would continue to dominate the market because the locally manufactured iron rods would be more expensive.

Fruit juices, pharmaceuticals and many other products that are being manufactured in Ghana are far more expensive than imported ones. Manufacturing supports moving from mere taxation of imported finished products to local value addition. Local production creates jobs and incomes. An import focused economy creates jobs and incomes in other countries, denying our youth of jobs. It also forces our cedi to depreciate as we chase the few dollars on the market to import everything, including pure water and toothpicks.

The NPP policy of moving from taxation to production does not mean zero taxation. It means increasing local processing and manufacturing capacity to create more jobs and incomes for our youthful population. When more people are employed in value addition and production, more people earn incomes that can be taxed at a lower level. That is why we seek to put factories in every district. These factories will add value to our produce, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs and incomes that can be taxed. Apart from 1D1F, many hardworking Ghanaian entrepreneurs and foreign investors have put money into the Ghanaian economy for production and their businesses deserve government’s support.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Government is promoting light and heavy industry with the start of GIADEC for bauxite processing and GHISDEC for iron and steel. These are foundational industries for generating processing capacity in any modern economy. This is the NPP’s vision to create a productive and self-sufficient economy full of jobs for the people.

Now, Ghana has an Automobile Assembly Policy that has the capacity to enhance skills, provide jobs and supply brand new vehicles to the Ghanaian and African markets at a competitive price. Yet the NDC says we should undermine all these homegrown policies that can generate jobs and incomes for our youth with a continuation of our age-old import economy.

As long as we continue to export raw materials for little money and use those monies to import expensive finished goods at a lower duty level, we shall continue to struggle with raising revenue to fund development and social services. So politically, it sounds good for the NDC to say no way to the restoration of benchmark values, but ultimately, such a posture is against the industrialization agenda necessary to create jobs. So, it is important to ask the NDC what their industrial policy is. Does the NDC have a plan to change the structure of the Import/Export economy? If so, what is the plan?

Ladies and gentlemen, the bottom line is that the NPP won a mandate in the 2020 general elections to continue to govern this country according to its manifesto and the record of cumulative achievements in this 4th Republic. The Party will be resolute in pursuing policies that inure to the long term benefit of Ghanaians. As often stated by H.E Nana Akufo-Addo, we are here to make decisions to further good governance. We are not in Government to avoid hard decisions for the sake of political power. That way, power loses credibility because it is disabled from serving the peoples’ true interests.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, the NPP will continue to offer well thought-through policies for the good people of Ghana. These policies would generate the much-needed jobs and incomes for our youth.

Our policies will continue to generate resources to develop the hard and soft infrastructure of the country.

Our policies will continue to provide education to all in need.

Our policies will continue to protect and grow the health sector.

Now, the NDC must tell us what their alternative is for Ghana.

Is it their view that Government puts levies on petroleum products?

Is it their view that government continues borrowing?

Is it their view that we collapse the local manufacturing economy in favour of imports?

The NDC must answer these questions to Ghanaians.

We in the NPP, remain sensitive to the needs of Ghanaians and the capacity of Ghanaians to take charge of their own future.

Thank you.

Source: starrfm.com.gh
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