Most members on the Minority side yesterday expressed their fury over the imposition of levy under the Special Import Levy Bill on outboard motors which fishermen use to go fishing.
New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah; NPP MP for Komenda/Edina/ Eguafo/Abirem (KEEA), Dr Nana Ato Arthur; NPP MP for Kwadaso, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto; NPP MP for Old Tafo, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei and NPP MP for Manhyia South, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, were very vocal about the intention of the government to impose the levy not only on outboard motors but also cutlasses, fishing nets and book-binding machines.
The government had intended to put one percent levy on importation of fertilizer but the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance said that levy would definitely increase the cost of fertilizer and further impoverish the poor subsistence farmers and so it asked the government not go ahead with that levy.
The Finance Committee, however, maintained that importation of all engines including outboard motors should be slapped with a levy. To the Minority members, this was a ‘wicked’ attempt to kill the fishing industry.
The MP for KEEA, Dr Ato Arthur, said the imposition of the levy was a ‘killer’ and that the government has shown insensitivity to the plight s fishermen in the country.
“Without a levy on outboard motors, the cost of outboard motor has increased from GH¢2,980 to GH¢9,000 in the last four years when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government took over power.”
He said already fishermen are facing serious challenges in the Amendment Bill, 2013 which was also stalled yesterday after members of the Minority raised serious questions about a ‘certain’ amended clause that put the burden of tax on the service operators instead of the final user which was originally captured in the new bill.
Even before they expressed consideration of the amended bill and its eventual passage by Parliament yesterday, the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications had issued an urgent statement to members of Parliament to tell them about the danger to stifling the growth of the industry if the bill was passed.
According to the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications headed by Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, if the bill was passed, it would hamper the capacity of network operators to invest in infrastructure to meet quality service requirements and the growing demand for data.
“CST or Talk Tax was introduced as a consumption tax in 2008 to raise revenue for government from subscribers by taxing them six percent on the value of services used,” the Chamber of Telecommunications said, adding that network operators, however, absorbed this tax themselves because of competition.
The Chamber said apart from that service providers also paid another six percent tax on international incoming services in addition to the existing 15 percent VAT and National Health Insurance Levy charged on international traffic. It stressed further that the Ministry of Finance was considering a further five percent stabilisation levy on telecommunications service following Cabinet’s approval.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr