The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, is still surprised at the dissenting voices in relation to the proposed E-levy in the 2022 budget statement.
He, however, expressed optimism that the policy will be approved but, in the event, it does not go through, he said, the government will turn to the petroleum sector for revenue.
Asked what the alternative is, in the event the E-levy fails, while speaking to journalists at a function in Accra on Friday, February 18, he said: “There are always many alternatives but really, you are looking at the future and you are looking at ways we can solve the issue of the increased revenue and everybody participating.
“The challenge is, for example, assuming you earn a million cedis a year and you transfer all of that through MoMo. What am I asking of you? ¢15,000. Is that what you have been fighting against? Or if you are a student and assuming your earn 100,000 cedis, which is unlikely, that means what, a 1500 cedis.
“So you then begin to ask the question, what is it that we are fighting against? And if I have also said the first hundred cedis will not be a part of it which means 3000 monthly income.
“The alternatives are many, you can go into petroleum, but is that really what you want? The mood of the country is different from the arithmetic in Parliament and that is why I have gone around.”
Mr Ofori-Atta had earlier ruled out returning to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for support in order to deal with the challenges that the local economy is going through at the moment.
Speaking at the 3rd Townhall meeting on the E-levy on Thursday, February 10, at the Radache Hotel in Tamale in the Northern Region, he indicated that a return to the Bretton Woods institution will have dire consequences.
The government was called upon to return to the IMF for support instead of relying on the proposed E-levy for revenue.
For instance, a former Member of Parliament for New Juabeng South, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah believed that a return would rescue Ghana’s struggling 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 in 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 Citi.
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, saying 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”.
The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Johnson Asiedu Nketia also made a similar call to the government.
Asked whether President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo should go to the IMF, while speaking on the New Day show on TV3 on Monday, February 7, he answered “I think it is something that they have to consider. if it is the only that will take us out of this problem then the earlier the better.”
But Mr Ofori-Atta who had earlier stated that the government would not go back to the IMF insisted that “I can tell you, as my colleague deputy said, we are not going back to the IMF, whatever we do we are not [going back]. The consequences are dire, we are a proud nation, we have the resources, we have that capacity, don’t let anybody tell you … we are not people of short-sighted, we need to move on,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.