The Member of Parliament for the North Tongu constituency, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said he and his fellow Minority MPs are proud to “frustrate” the approval of the controversial e-levy proposed by the government in the 2022 budget.
Mr Ablakwa’s comment comes after Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II acknowledged that all over the world, nobody loves taxes and pointed out that though it is in the interest of the populace for lawmakers to scrutinise government policies, it is not in their place to “frustrate” the work of the executive arm.
Speaking at the launch of the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Commemorative Gold Coin on Sunday, 12 December 2021, the Asante monarch said: “We have been fortunate in our political journey to have moved on from a period of one political party dominating everything”.
“Today, at least, the two main political parties have all been in government”, he observed, adding: “If we are honest, we will agree that there is no perfect government and there will never be, as long as we have different points of view.”
“And, if we are honest, we will also agree that there are no people in this world that love paying taxes, and yet there is no other way conceived by the human mind by which government can raise the resources to meet our needs other than by raising taxes”.
“I do not know of any form of taxes that is less painful than others. So, alas, the government, by all means, would have to raise taxes to meet our needs and if we are good citizens, we will pay our taxes.”
He noted: “We elect people to represent us to make sure there is some equilibrium in what governments do”.
“It is to our good that our representatives in parliament subject the national budget to the most rigorous scrutiny and to call for changes.”
The “government must also have the humility to acknowledge and embrace the useful inputs from all sources but our representatives need to bear in mind that it is not their role to either determine policy or to frustrate the executive from performing their legitimate duties.”
But Mr Ablakwa holds a different view.
In a Facebook post on late Monday, 13 December 2021, the North Tongu lawmaker said: “Let history reflect that my colleagues and I are proud to belong to the group of MPs who “frustrated” Ameri, Agyapa, Aker, Oslo Chancery, PDS, inflated 2018 Ministry of Special Development Initiatives Budget, GHS242million dubious e-Transaction Levy Services, and still determined to ‘frustrate’ the obnoxious E-Levy.”
His post further read: “I have no doubt President Akufo-Addo is much the same way proud of how he and his collaborators in and outside of Parliament during their good old days “frustrated” the introduction of VAT not only in the chamber but on the streets with the famous “kumepreko” demonstrations.
“The Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu-led opposition era certainly look back with great pride for “frustrating” a number of matters they felt strongly about including boycotting President Mahama’s message on the state of the nation and boycotting the vetting of his ministers on the instruction of party leaders as they pursued their legal challenge of the 2012 election outcome.
“Parliaments exist in a democracy as a countervailing force to keep the executive in check and curb impunity.
“When other MPs exercised their oversight mandate in the past, they were hailed as nationalists; those who do same now must not be cast in a different light.
“Good conscience, genuine feedback from our constituents and the supreme national interest shall continue to be our raison d'etre.”
Mr Ablakwa expressed gratitude to the clergy who have declared three days fasting and prayer for Parliament and the smooth approval of the 2022 budget adding “we’ve no doubt that our Almighty Lord and Saviour will, in the final analysis, intervene on behalf of the suffering masses just as He did in the story of the profligate, insensitive rich man and poor Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.”
Ghana’s split parliament is currently fighting over a proposed 1.75 per cent e-levy, which has stalled the passage of the 2022 budget.
The Minority Caucus, in a lopsided parliament, rejected the budget while the Majority Caucus, also in a separate lopsided sitting of the house, approved it.
The two caucuses are now trying to find a middle ground so the budget could be passed.