Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, NDC, has defended the decision of the Minority in Parliament to boycott the passage of the Electronic Transfer (E-Levy) Bill.
The Haruna Iddrisu-led caucus walked out of the chamber after the second reading of the Bill stating that they did not want to have anything to do with the passage of a levy that was going to impose further hardship on the citizenry.
Asiedu Nketia in an interview with Accra-based JoyNews stated that the value of walking out or staying to vote against the Bill was the same. “Walking out or voting against them, all the same,” he stated.
He added that he did not see the point in some people accusing the Minority side of letting opponents of the Bill down. The NDC scribe stressed that the Minority had limited fighting capacity and had deployed its full arsenal in the fight against the levy.
“I don’t see how Ghanaians could feel let down by the NDC, because we can only fight with the weapon that Ghanaians have provided us and we were provided with 137 weapons so if you expect us to fire 200 and 300 weapons that will be too much because our vote maximally should come out up to 137,” he stressed.
Two former NDC MPs have argued that the Minority had to stay in the chamber and vote against the Bill.
One-time MP for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak argued thus: “Politics is hard ball and clearly NPP plays it better. The Minority’s claim is that one of its members was on his way from court, so they didn’t have the numbers.
“Question, What happened to filibustering (the legitimate parliamentary process of delaying or obstructing a process). If the NPP was so determined to the point of wheeling a seriously ill MP in an ambulance to vote, the NDC had no excuse not exhausting legitimate parliamentary procedure to get its member into the chamber to vote,” he said.
On his part, former Tamale North MP, Inusah Fuseini, argued that the Minority needed to keep one of their members in the House to invoke the issue of lack of quorum to take a decision on the issue.
His argument was against the backdrop that the Majority Group was lacking one MP and thus had 137 MPs in the Chamber, which is less than the minimum 138 required to take a decision.
The E-Levy was passed on Tuesday, March 29, 2022; after it was tabled under a certificate of urgency. The Minority side after debating the second reading, staged a walkout with the reason that they did not want to have anything to do with the Bill.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta proposed a number of amendments to the Bill, with the most significant one being the lowering of the E-Levy rate from 1.75% to 1.5%.
Subsequent legislative motions were followed leading to its eventual passage by the Majority Group-Only House. The Majority Leader has hinted that final work on the Bill will be done as soon as possible to allow onward transmission for presidential assent.
The Finance Minister has, meanwhile, stated that all things being equal; implementation of the levy will start in early May 2022.