‘Let’s Be Frank On E-Levy’

Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah says there is a bit of ‘hypocrisy’ on the part of those opposed to the introduction of the Electronic Transaction Levy, popularly known as E-Levy, by the government to raise more revenue towards accelerated development.

According to him, the government has only two ways of responding to the developmental needs and aspirations of the people, and said that can be done either through borrowing or raising enough revenue through taxation.

Speaking on Citi TV in Accra yesterday, the Information Minister suggested that Ghana risks accumulation of more debt since the debt to GDP ratio is currently about 80% and not sustainable if the trend continues.

“The revenue question is bigger than whether or not we are making some money from road tolls. The challenge we have in this country is that, legitimately, Ghanaians are demanding things from the government,” he said.

“The government has only two ways of responding to those demands. You either borrow or raise revenue. We are at a point where our debt to GDP ratio is close to about 80%. It is not healthy for us to go further. We intend to raise some more revenue while plugging out the excess expenditure,” he added.

“The revenue generation measures since I started politics have never been exciting for Ghanaians. We always find the political class being hypocritical while the government defends it. The moment power switches hands, postures change,” the minister said, adding “I think the political class should stop the hypocrisy because we all know that without confronting the revenue question, neither of us can fully develop the country to its full potential. We have got to stop the hypocrisy, confront the real issues and tell Ghanaians the truth.”

The opposition NDC has vowed to stop the E-Levy, pegged at 1.75%, which is intended to enhance the government’s drive for revenue mobilisation and broaden the tax base.

According to the Finance Ministry, the levy, which is expected to raise approximately GH¢6.963 billion this year, is a key mechanism that the government will use to help ensure that more Ghanaians and the public contribute their fair share towards the development of the country.

The proceeds will be used to tackle the intractable problems of rising debt, high youth unemployment, inadequate digital infrastructure and diminished entrepreneurship culture while maintaining the flagship programmes.

Mr. Oppong Nkrumah, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ofoase-Ayirebi in the Eastern Region, said politicians, especially opposition elements should be moderate in their opposition to taxation, and added that the government is committed to creating appropriate climate for discussing issues of revenue generation in the country.

“What we must do is to ensure that when the revenue is raised, people are held accountable for it. I have heard people advising that we earmark the usage of revenue from E-Levy, label every road that is done, and publish such information on an annual basis. I think those are rather brilliant suggestions,” he noted.

For him, the E-Levy is one of the ‘unpalatable’ decisions that the government is taking in the interest of Ghanaians, and said the side a politician belongs should not be the basis for accepting and refusing a revenue mobilisation measure introduced by the government.

By Ernest Kofi Adu