South Dayi MP, Rockson Dafeamekpor

South Dayi MP, Rockson-Nelson E.K. Dafeamekpor, has called on the government to seek parliamentary approval on the reversal of the 50% benchmark value reduction on duties paid by importers at Ghana’s ports are calculated.

The Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta had in early April, directed the reduction of the benchmark value or delivery values of imports, by 50%, except for vehicles which were to be reduced by 30%.

The Vice President, Dr. Bawumia, had said the move was to reduce the menace of smuggling and make the country’s ports more competitive and attractive.

However according to the MP, the reduction of benchmark value, “if carried through as instructed by the Finance Minister, is an illegality as it has not been sanctioned by Parliament.”

He stated the Constitution under Article 174(1)(2) is unambiguous on the position that the only institution that can grant the imposition or the variation of tax is Parliament and that if the power to do so is conferred on a person, Parliament must still give approval.

Dafeamekpor admits that government is facing challenges in meeting its revenue projections as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“However, efforts by government to reverse any negative economic trends must be undertaken under the law,” he said.

He added that, “The levying or variation of taxes are ipso facto, matters of strict law and same must not be breached or side-stepped in the midst of government’s efforts at mobilizing financial resources to meet its 2020 fiscal year projections.

“In the light of such clear constitutional provisions, it is inconceivable that the Minister of Finance would be seeking to vary tax measures by mere administrative fiat as in this case.”

He therefore advised the Ministry of Finance to “take immediate curative steps to ensure that proposals to vary the imposition of benchmark values receive parliamentary approval in compliance with the Constitution.”