Ranking Member on Parliament’s Defence and Interior Committee, James Agalga

Ranking Member on Defense and Interior Committee, James Agalga has accused President Akufo-Addo of compromising the work of the Supreme Court in the suit filed by the Minority to challenge the approval of the E-levy.

JoyNews sources have confirmed that President Akufo-Addo has signed the E-levy bill into law barely two days after a Majority-sided House passed it.

This comes at a time when the Minority has filed a suit at the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the approval of the Bill by the Majority.

Speaking to JoyNews on The Pulse shortly after the President signed the Bill into law, James Agalga noted that what the President has done is an act of prejudice and compromise to the work of the Supreme Court.

“It is a bad practice for the President who knows that the court must be allowed to do their work without any form of interference, to do such a thing. He knows that following the alleged practice of approving the Bill, alleged because we walked out…we withdrew from the House and you know that the numbers from the Majority side was not more than 136…Why is the President in this kind of haste to give assent to the Bill into law, the passage of which has been seriously contested at the Supreme Court,” he said.

He expressed optimism that President Akufo-Addo’s assent of the E-levy into law will not hold water.

“I think what is even before the court is enough to undo what the President has sought to do,” he added.

The Bill, which was passed by Parliament on Tuesday, has now become a binding law which will be operationalised as a revenue measure across the country.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has hinted that the implementation of the levy may commence in May 2022.

According to him, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will have all the systems in place for the operationalization of the levy by then.

“We had a key meeting with the Controller General and the GRA and they have indicated to us that right at the beginning of May, they should be able to get the systems altogether,” he said.

Background to the Presidential assent

Parliament approved the controversial Electronic Transactions (E-Levy) Bill on Tuesday afternoon.

This decision was reached after the Consideration Stage was completed by a Majority-sided House on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.

It was considered under a certificate of urgency.

The Bill was adopted at a reduced rate of 1.5% from the initial 1.75% amid a Minority walkout.

The tax, which has become a subject of debate among Ghanaians is expected to rake in close to ¢6 billion in tax revenue for the country.

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has already hinted that its structures have been revised and ready to ensure mobilization of the income.

The Finance Minister was in Parliament to push for the Bill’s passage a day to President Akufo-Addo’s State of The Nation Address.

From the onset, the Minority had accused the Majority Caucus of smuggling into the Order Paper the consideration of the controversial Electronic Transaction Levy (E-levy).

According to the Tamale South MP, E-levy was not enlisted in Parliament’s business statement for this week.

He questioned why the Majority will pull such a surprise on the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) legislators.

But Deputy Finance Minister, Abena Osei-Asare, urged Members of Parliament to join hands in passing the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy) Bill to enhance the country’s economic recovery process.

According to her, Ghanaians have already accepted the tax revenue measure and expect its passage.

This, she stated, will help address domestic challenges derailing growth of the local economy, a development which has led to a high cost of living in the country.

But after a 30-minute break, the Minority Leader announced that his side will have nothing to do with the Bill.

He maintained that the outcome will bring untold hardship to the populace. On that note, he led the NDC MPs to vacate the chamber.

After this development, the House, despite the Minority’s absence embarked on a speedy consideration and effected a few changes in the Bill following which the motion was moved to accept it.

In a voice vote, the Minority sided Parliament admitted the E-Levy Bill.

Speaker, Alban Bagbin therefore ruled, “Honourable members, the Electronic Transfer Levy Bill 2021 duly read the third time and passed.”