The Ghanaian Parliament has approved a new electronic transaction tax which the government says will help raise $900m in much-needed revenue but which has sparked widespread popular criticism.
The E-levy bill, passed on Tuesday, will introduce a 1.5 percent tax on electronic money transfers and transactions. President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government has said the move will help address problems from unemployment to Ghana’s high public debt.
But for many Ghanaians, the tax represents yet another burden as they are already struggling with high living costs heightened by soaring fuel prices due to the Ukraine crisis.
Legislators passed the law after the opposition minority walked out of the debate.
“The Electronic Transfer Levy duly read today after the consideration stage has been passed,” Alban Bagbin, the speaker of parliament said.
Earlier, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the government had already reduced the proposed tax from 1.75 percent to 1.5 percent after consultations, adding that it will bring in projected revenues of $927.5m.
Before they walked out of the debate, opposition legislators dismissed the new tax as unfair.
“The people have roundly rejected the e-levy and our constituents have told us to reject it, so why is the president imposing it on us?” said opposition NDC party parliamentarian Isaac Adongo.
“What is the crime of Ghanaians that now the government wants to use their pockets as collateral?”
Ghana is struggling to revive its economy from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and its high public debt is a burden. Earlier this week, it reopened its land and sea borders after a two-year closure as it lifted some coronavirus restrictions in an attempt to bolster its flagging economy.
The president and his ministers recently also cut their own wages by 30 percent, along with other measures they hope will help generate $400m in savings for state coffers.