The conspicuous absence of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta was yesterday felt as the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) flagbearer once again voiced his opposition to electronic financial transaction taxes, commonly referred to as the e-levy, firmly pledging to eliminate the levy if elected as President of Ghana in the upcoming December election.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has additionally disclosed plans for a new tax regime under his government, which includes the abolition of the emission tax, betting taxes, and the proposed 15% VAT on electricity tariffs – the latter to take effect if implemented by January 2025.
Interestingly, President Nana Akufo-Addo was equally absent from Dr Bawumia’s public forum dubbed: “Bawumia Speaks” in Accra on Wednesday at the Kofi Ohene Konadu Auditorium of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA).
Similarly, the President’s trusted cousin, Gabby Otchere-Darko was not sighted at the venue. He was busy on social media X tweeting about the Cote d’Ivoire 2023 AFCON wishing for an all-West African clash at Sunday’s final between Nigeria and the host country. His wishes came true.
This is not the first instance where Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has expressed discontent with the E-Levy. Prior to its passage in 2022, he openly opposed it during a live interview with Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM.
Despite the Vice President’s reservations, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta ignored the head of the government’s economic management team and swiftly presented the 2022 budget and economic statement to parliament, advocating for the adoption of the levy, even in the face of public outcry.
The event was on the theme: “Ghana’s Next Chapter: Selfless Leadership and Bold Solutions for the Future,” which enabled the NPP Flagbearer for the December Election to outline his vision and priority policies for the nation if elected.
Dr Bawumia minced no words in declaring his opposition to taxes on electronic financial transactions, declaring that he will abolish e-levy as President.
Currently, students domiciled in Ghana but studying various courses through correspondence, as a result of the E-Levy are paying outrageous amounts as fees because the foreign institutions have been instructed to pay charges on all electronic transactions between them and their students.
Dr. Bawumia declared “to move towards a cashless economy, however, we have to encourage the population to use electronic channels of payment. To accomplish this, there will be no taxes on digital payments under my administration. The e-levy will, therefore, be abolished.”
The controversial tax was introduced in 2022, and before the introduction, Vice President Bawumia had declared his opposition to levies on electronic financial transactions.
Dr Bawumia added that his bid for a Digital and Cashless Ghana will be significantly boosted if e-levy is abolished.
He also announced that his government would introduce what he described as a friendly, flat tax regime for Ghana, which will boost individuals and businesses, particularly small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).
“My administration will introduce a very simple, citizen and business-friendly flat tax regime. A flat tax of a % of income for individuals and SMEs, which constitute 98% of all businesses in Ghana, with appropriate exemption thresholds set to protect the poor,” Dr Bawumia indicated.
The Vice President’s bold decision to abolish the tax on electronic financial transactions, popularly known as e-levy if elected as President, elicited spontaneous applause and cheers from the gathering.
Dr Bawumia stated that his vision for a digital and cashless economy for the nation would receive a significant boost with the abolition of the e-levy.
Dr Bawumia said: “To transition to a cashless economy, we need to encourage the use of electronic payment channels.”
“To facilitate this, there will be no taxes on digital payments under my administration. Therefore, the e-levy will be abolished”.
He added that his government would also abolish emission tax, tax on betting, and the proposed 15% VAT on electricity tariffs.
The NPP flagbearer announced the introduction of a simplified, citizen- and business-friendly flat tax regime for Ghana, aimed at supporting individuals and businesses, particularly small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).
“My administration will implement a straightforward, citizen- and business-friendly flat tax regime.”
“This will involve a flat tax percentage of income for individuals and SMEs, which represent 98% of all businesses in Ghana, with appropriate exemption thresholds to safeguard the poor.”
Dr Bawumia said his government would implement far-reaching policies with not more than 50 ministers and deputy ministers should he be elected as the President of Ghana.
In attendance were Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady, wife of the Vice President Hajia Samira Bawumia,
former President John Agyekum Kufuor, former Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye, and Mrs Osei Frema-Opare, the Chief of Staff.
The others are the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Stephen Ayensu Ntim, Mr Justin Kodua Frempong, the General Secretary, former presidential aspirants of the party, ministers of State, members of Parliament, Party Executives, Council of Elders and the diplomatic community and party supporters.
Dr. Bawumia, pledged to limit the number of Ministers and Deputy Ministers to no more than 50 under his presidency. A sharp departure from the over 120 ministers and deputy ministers in the Akufo-Addo administration.
Emphasizing the importance of an efficient governance system, Dr Bawumia noted that having fewer ministers will contribute to a streamlined decision-making process.
“I would have no more than 50 ministers and deputy ministers,” he pledged.
He stated that national service will no longer be mandatory for graduates who yearn to secure immediate jobs after completion of tertiary education insisting that the concept of the current national service scheme needs tweaking to suit the demands of jobs by graduates.
After the address, former President John Agyekum Kufuor commended Dr Bawumia, portraying him as a man destined for greatness.
Kufuor expressed confidence in Bawumia’s ability to effectively guide the country, urging Ghanaians to rally behind and support him in his leadership role.
“I have always seen him as a man of destiny. When I first saw him in 2002, he was a research assistant to the governor of the Bank of Ghana. He delivered a paper at an international conference in London. There was something about his presentation. I was the president of Ghana by then. Till then I hadn’t even spoken to him before.
“I congratulated him and I don’t know what came in me, prophetically, I told him to carry on the light and that he will go far…in 2008 Akufo-Addo picked this man again to be his running mate.”
“…This man is on a mission. A mission determined by destiny. Let’s all support him to continue. Quality leadership is very scarce,” he stated.
The former president also indicated that the country needed a visionary leader.
“Ghana has come to a crossroads. It’s not the regular politics we want. We want a leadership with vision even in the complex world I spoke about. We should be talking about the nation and not so much as the party. We must get competent people to work with him to bring us out of the challenges we are in now,” he added.