General News of Saturday, 4 March 2017
The Akufo-Addo government’s maiden budget statement delivered by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, was met with jeers of “419 budget” from the Minority in Parliament, and the NDC MP for Ketu South, Fiifi Kwetey, has justified the minority’s description of the budget.
According to him, the New Patriotic Party government has ostensibly hoodwinked Ghanaians by ignoring some major promises, and instead fulfilling insignificant ones.
The 2017 budget heralded the abolition and review of some 12 key taxes in the aviation, finance and real estate industries, aimed at providing a friendly environment for businesses in the country.
Most notably, taxes on head porters ‘Kayayei’, and duties on imported spare parts were abolished to the glee of stakeholders.
Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, defended the budget saying it gave Ghanaians, a new sense of hope, as the components of the budget indicated government’s commitment to realizing all the promises it made to Ghanaians during the 2016 election campaign period.
Insignificant taxes removed, reviewed
But speaking on Citi TV’s Politicos, Mr. Kwetey maintained that, government had run away from its promises to remove or review more impactful taxes, like the energy sector levy, or the reduction in corporate income tax as promised ahead of the 2016 elections.
“There is something called running away from the camel and taking care of the insects. What it means is that, if there are big things you need to deal with, you can run away from the big things and do away with the insignificant one in order to deceive the people,” he explained.
“If you add them [taxes reviewed or abolished] in terms of value, they don’t even amount to the reduction of corporate income tax from 25 to 20 percent, let alone anywhere near the energy sector levy.”
Mr. Kwetey reminded Ghanaians that, President Nana Akufo-Addo assured the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) he was going to abolish the energy sector levy, and he told the country he was going to reduce corporate income tax from 25 to 20.
“These are clear and explicit statements that he made. You don’t come and look for a reduction of levies that when you put them together, amount to very little. That is like deceiving the country. He has come to treat a little wound in order to make you feel like they have done something about it.
That is what you call subterfuge and that is why calling it 419 is appropriate”