Mr Ken Ofori Atta, the Minister of Finance, has bemoaned the swirling deep-seated misinformation on the proposed electronic transaction Levy (E-levy) and said it affected recognition and passage.
He said widespread distortion of facts caused many to reject the levy in reflex and that the situation threatened to deny the nation the revenue needed for development.
The Minister, who was speaking at the fifth government town hall meeting on the proposed levy in Ho, noted that opposition to the levy placed covers on plans to provide a favourable threshold for exemption and relayed the concept as a desperate means to rob the people.
The Minister said although returns from the E-levy diminished when compared with other sources of the nation’s revenue, it would grant the “consistency to move forward and take clearly the reins of development into our hands.”
“We must help bring on the E-Levy to be able to transform our economy,” he noted, lamenting that, “the E-levy has become a battle ground.”
Mr Ofori-Atta further stated the “dire” consequences of opposing the levy and said the negative propaganda had affected the nation’s credit worthiness.
He said that the nation had for long been running a budget deficit and that the E-levy would help pay for interests and service its loans in an era where e-commerce had grown exponentially.
The Finance Minister said the E-levy would ultimately widen the tax net and additionally with other digital infrastructure help rope in all eligible tax contributors.
“You don’t have to spite small changes,” he said, furthering that it was “an opportunity to burden share as a society to move forward.”
The Minister added that the levy would be cemented to support future governments dealing with unemployment and tackle infrastructure development.
“We should not use excuses as a way to run from our problem, but as a way to address it. It calls for some very sober discussion on our role in nation-building,” he appealed.
Mr Pius Enam Hadzide, CEO of the National Youth Authority, said the nation’s youth suffered the rungs of unemployment and that the E-levy should be considered in their interest as it would help cater for the various interventions aimed at improving their lot.
He said interventions including the ten billion cedis Youstart, youth entrepreneurial programme, awaited breath from the proposed levy and thus the youth must impress upon their MPs to approve it, and that “it is unfair to pass the budget and the appropriation but not the money that would fund it.”
Mr Peter Amewu, the Minister for Railways Development, said a large chunk of the population was staying clear of tax obligations, hence the E-levy must be accepted to help boost growth in tax mobilization.
He said the government did not seek to burden the nation with the levy and would be held accountable and urged Ghanaians to consider the proposal in the interest of development and not politicise it.
Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister for Information, who led the meeting, said the government had shown commendable fiscal responsibility by maintaining a stable economic environment and social protection programmes despite a crippling pandemic.
He said the government currently had the economy on recovery, and, therefore, the citizenry should consider the “responsibility sharing” being advocated in the interest of development.
Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, the Volta Regional Minister, said burden-sharing had become necessary in addressing the challenges, and that the nation should not scurry away from bearable sacrifices that would help secure the future for all.
“Our economic challenges do not deny us the future we deserve,” he stated.
The town hall was attended by opinion leaders, political and nonpolitical organizations, members of the Regional Security Council, religious groups, and students.
An open forum granted personal interaction with the state leaders, who took the pain to offer clarity on matters related to the recommended levy.
Officers of the Ghana Revenue Authority were also on hand to help understand the tax concept, and the meeting was streamed live across the nation’s media channels.