Pressure group, Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), has threatened street protests over a new Value Added Tax (VAT) Law, which critics claim imposes levies that could cripple the nation’s banking sector.
‘Under the current turbulent economic mess, led by a failed President; John Mahama, it is unthinkable to further burden Ghanaians with another aggressive and senseless tax regime,’ the group said in a statement.
Plans to implement the new law have provoked public outcry after reports claimed the new fees could erode the value of savings made by customers in the nation’s banks. It was also reported that the new law could make the cost of loans in Ghana extremely expensive.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance issued a statement, denying the reports. The Ministry’s statement also sought to clarify issues relating to the law and its impact on banking services and charges nationwide.
‘We wish to state categorically those salaries, savings, deposits, loans and payment with cheques are all exempted from VAT,’ the statement signed by a Deputy Minister of Finance, Cassiel Ato Baah Forson said.
It added, ‘The new VAT Act, Act 870, only affects fees that are charged on non-core financial services such as data processing, legal, accounting, actuarial, notary and consulting services’.
Nevertheless, the Finance Ministry’s statement appears to have done little to calm public anxiety, with the Member of Parliament for Akyem Abuwkwa North, J.B Danquah-Adu, accusing the Deputy Minister of misinterpreting the provisions of the law.
Apparently drawing inspiration from the raging public anger over the new VAT law, AFAG issued a statement on Thursday, giving a one week ultimatum to the Mahama administration to withdraw the legislation or face street demonstrations.
‘…We will hit the street to show to government that Ghanaians are discontent with the NDC government’s economic management,’ said AFAG, a group known for previous street protests over what it called ‘harsh’ social and economic conditions in Ghana.
The statement by AFAG claimed: ‘This bank service tax has a transmission effect, and thus, will affect all sections of the economy including the banking sector, businesses and even parents paying their wards school fees through bankers’ draft.
The statement called on ‘civil societies, the business community, parents and the nation as a whole to rise up and oppose the implementation of this insensitive tax’.
It added, ‘AFAG will use all legitimate means to resist the implementation of this bank service tax. It is certainly not popular. Ghana’s economy is in a failed state. We feel very sorry for President John Mahama for supervising this mess. It is however not surprising to Ghanaians to see President Mahama, his extended family and cronies getting better off, as Ghanaians continue to wallow in abject poverty’.
AFAG’s threat to lead street protests came despite reports that the Ministry of Finance has announced it will defer implementation of the law until June. The move, according to reports, is to allow for further consultations on the true import of the provisions of the law.
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