Finance Minister accused of contempt of Parliament
The Minority has accused the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, of contempt of Parliament for failing to implement tax cuts approved by the House.
Implementation of the tax cuts was expected to begin on June 1 but the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), which operates under the Finance Ministry, has postponed it to July.
Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, moved a motion on the floor on Thursday asking that the august House compels the Minister to reverse the suspension of the implementation.
Following delivery of the 2017 budget statement, Parliament passed the VAT Amendment Act (2017) to allow for retailers and wholesalers to pay 3 percent tax instead of 17.5 percent charges on non-core financial services.
Mr Iddrisu said the decision by the Finance Ministry to suspend the approved tax cuts will create confusion in the minds of the Ghanaian public and to businesses.
“That is even contemptible of this House; that an institution such as GRA and the Minister of Finance will set aside an Act of Parliament and just make an announcement that I am suspending this tax cut,” he said on the floor of Parliament.
However, Deputy Finance Minister, Kweku Kwarteng, opposed the motion by the Minority Leader, insisting that the Ministry has run into difficulties in implementing the tax cuts but efforts are underway to rectify them.
“When the tax officers went to collect the taxes, the taxpayers complained that the GRA officers were not implementing the measure as they understood it from the law. So they petitioned the Ministry of Finance. The taxpayers’ concerns needed more attention,” Mr Kwarteng explained.
He adds that suspension of the implementation of the tax cut on June 1 was to enable resolution of the misunderstanding.
Meanwhile, following a series of consultations, the Majority changed its position and backed the motion which was approved the House.
The Speaker, Prof Mike Ocquaye, then directed that leadership of the Finance Committee of Parliament to meet the Finance Minister and the GRA and agree on how the 3% flat VAT rate will be implemented.