A former New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for New Juaben South, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, has urged the government to go back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial support due to the economic challenges the country is experiencing.
Dr. Assibey-Yeboah who is also a former Chair of the Finance Committee of Parliament stated that there is nothing wrong with Ghana returning to the Bretton woods institution because the oil-producing West African nation is a member of the IMF.
The Minority MPs have rejected the proposal despite the decision by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to reduce the initial rate of 1.75 percent to 1.5 percent.
They hold the view that the policy proposal is a disincentive to the growth of the digital economy. To that end, their Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said, they would not support it.
Speaking at a post-budget workshop in Ho on Saturday, November 20, 2021, he said “Mr. Speaker, understandably, we see that the Minister of Finance seeks to introduce some measures including the now popularly declared e-levy or digital levy as some have quite named it.
“Mr. Speaker, our concern is whether the e-levy itself is not and will not be a disincentive to the growth of the digital economy in our country. We are convinced that the e-levy may as well even be a disincentive to investment and a disincentive to private sector development in our country. We in the minority may not and will not support the government with the introduction of that particular e-levy. We are unable to build a national consensus on that particular matter.”
Despite the rejection by the opposition lawmakers, the Akufo-Addo administration has insisted on getting the bill passed because it does not want to return to the IMF for support.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta noted that going to the IMF again would have dire implications on the economy.
Speaking at the government’s Town-Hall meeting in Koforidua to discuss the E-Levy on Thursday, January 27, he indicated that going to the IMF would be disastrous.
“When we were in the IMF program, we couldn’t pay for nurses and teachers,” he said; “we couldn’t hire any more because there were restrictions on that. I mean, it’s just really thinking you can go back to Egypt.
“In a way, we have forgotten how difficult and tenacious that master from Washington was.
“So, we can deal with them for them to give us advice but we need not ever get into an IMF program [again]. If we don’t do this E-Levy, we’re just pushing ourselves in a way that would potentially end up in such a disaster,” he said.
However, Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah disagreed with him. He believed that a return to the IMF will salvage Ghana’s receding economy.
“Without a doubt, I think we should be placing a call to Washington if we haven’t really done that. We are just not going to ask for the funds just because E-levy has been passed or not. E-levy will just bring about GH¢5 billion. We are in a deep hole of our tax revenue and facing difficulties, so going to the Fund will give us some support.
“So there is nothing wrong with going to the Fund. Ghana is a member of the IMF so what is wrong going to ask for support when we are in difficulties to go and pool resources. If I was the finance minister, I will be convincing the President that it is about time we went back,” he told Accra-based Citi FM.r. Mark Assibey Yeboah also added that the revenue expected to be accrued from the E-levy is to ensure the economic stability government is eyeing.
He further cast doubt on the government’s ability to raise the projected GH¢6.9 billion target. He insisted that the maximum the government can raise from the controversial e-levy is GH¢5 billion.
“The GH¢6.9 billion target cannot be realized. There are a lot of exemptions so, in my estimation, the maximum amount we can get from the E-levy is GH¢5 billion, and that is less than a billion dollars, so I do not think that the E-levy is going to be a panacea to our revenues. Going to the IMF will ensure some stability and above all, we are going to get some $3 billion”.
Meanwhile, attempts by the Majority Caucus to pass the levy have led to fisticuffs in Parliament. However, the Finance Minister last week met with the leadership of the Minority Caucus to reach an agreement for the levy to be approved.