The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Bagbin, says he can only be impartial as the leader of the House, but he can’t be neutral.

He explained that he cannot be neutral because he may have an interest in whatever comes to the floor “but whether it’s against the left or against the right, I will see it.”

“In the performance of my functions, I will be impartial, but that doesn’t mean I will be neutral,” he said.

Speaking during a visit by the Council of State on Tuesday, March 1, he noted that although he has “good friends on the other side of the political divide,” he does not expect both sides of the House to be happy with his decisions but he would ensure the interest of the state is paramount always.

In a reaction to issues concerning the 2022 Budget Statement and the approval of the controversial E-levy, Mr Bagbin suggested that “the concept of majority rule should give way to participatory inclusiveness.”

The Minority and Majority Causes are divided over the passage of the E-levy Bill. This, in some instances, generated chaos between MPs from both Caucuses in the chamber.

Attempts to build consensus on the passage of the Bill have proved futile.

The Council of State expressed worry over these trends in Parliament and said it was ready to play the mediatory role to ensure that the best is achieved for the development of the country.

Addressing the meeting, the Chairman of the Council, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, called on the Speaker to appreciate the challenges posed by the hung nature of the current Parliament and work to resolve the acrimonious relationship between the two divides of the House.

“Mr. Speaker, we want to support you to be the best Speaker that Ghana has ever had. We know that these issues that have happened are only ephemeral, and one day, you will look back at them with nostalgic feelings.”

“We feel that it is bent and not broken and that it can be mended. However, developments in Parliament have given us a feeling that our hope may not be realised and that if we as the Council of State do not give you the support we pledged you and sat down for things to go haywire, we will equally be accused of not doing our work as expected of us by the people of Ghana,” he said.

On his part, Alban Bagbin was confident the mediation talks would achieve the intended purpose and stated that his office is always open to the Council for advice.

He added that he has planned to organise a workshop for the Parliamentary leadership and some elders to moderate and facilitate discussions this weekend.

“None of us is happy with the way things are going. We’ve never had such a hung Parliament before, and you know governance is usually run by the majority, so when you feel you have a majority, decision taking becomes a serious challenge,” he stated.

E-Levy

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, during the presentation of the 2022 budget announced that government intends to introduce an Electronic Transactions Levy (E-levy).

The Levy, he revealed, is being introduced to “widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector.”

The proposed Levy, which was expected to come into effect in January 2022, charges 1.75% on the value of electronic transactions.

It covers mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances. There is an exemption for transactions up to GH¢100 per day.

Although the government has argued that it is an innovative way to generate revenue, scores of citizens and stakeholders have expressed varied sentiments on its appropriateness, with many standing firmly against it.

Even though others have argued in support of the Levy, a section of the populace believe that the 1.75% E-levy is an insensitive tax policy that will deepen the already prevailing hardship in the country.