General News of Saturday, 4 March 2017
Government is undermining the authority of local government and efforts at decentralisation by scrapping tolls paid by head potters also known as“Kayayei”, the Deputy Minority Leader, James Avedzi has intimated.
He explained that, government would be setting a precedent that will be at odds with the New Patriotic Party government’s efforts at decentralization, by allowing Parliament to quash bye-laws enacted at the local level.
In Accra, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) levied kayayei 50 pesewas for operating in major markets in the metropolis, but the Akufo-Addo government, via its maiden budget, abolished this, and other tolls imposed on the head porters who make a living by carting goods on their heads for customers in markets.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Avedzi noted that, “by this act, it means that whatever is done at the district level. We can use the power of parliament to quash it. Are we decentralizing the power to the people or we are re-centralizing the power?”.
He suggested that, local government should be allowed to scrap laws it had enacted instead of being sidestepped by the central government.
“This is a resolution of the local government, a resolution of the AMA or the KMA. It is for them to go back and reverse it. If you want them to reverse it, go and tell them that, go and do your resolution and remove it. Don’t go and do a public announcement in Parliament saying you have abolished the tax,” Mr. Avedzi insisted.
Government right to intervene
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Obuasi West Constituency, Kwaku Kwarteng, however, said government was well within its right to intervene if it felt local assemblies were imposing strenuous levies.
“The suggestion that the local assemblies can make any decision and charge levies and central government is helpless in the context of the current legal arrangement, is false,” he asserted in a retort to Mr. Avedzi.
“Government has a responsibility to look at the circumstances of every section of society and make specific directives in respect of their welfare.
We are not saying that nobody should pay these levies. In respect of a particular kind of business, we are saying that they should not.”