Deputy Majority leader in Parliament Alexander Afenyo-Markin is bracing his side for debate on the 2021 budget statement and economic policy of government presented to Parliament last Friday.
The Majority, he said, is relishing the debate and cannot even wait for it to begin because of the good things the Government has prepared for Ghanaians in the document.
According to him, the Budget presented the figures that the Minority was demanding following the Message on the State of the Nation by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Tuesday.
He argued that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) did not have an unbridled opposition to the Value Added Tax (VAT) in 1998 as the Minority is claiming in an attempt to justify opposition to the Agyapa deal.
The NPP then, he said, was only interested in the rate being proposed at the time and how funds from the tax would be utilized.
He stated that this is quite different from the unconcealed opposition the Minority have launched against the Agyapa deal, which is without reasonable justification.
Speaking with THE CUSTODIAN after the Budget presentation, Mr. Afenyo-Markin noted that the devastation of COVID-19 on the national economy and across the world is unprecedented.
He noted that the President, through good leadership, demonstrated competence and therefore the future is bright despite the obvious bumps.
Mr. Afenyo-Markin stated that the Budget has not introduced anything new that is going to burden the ordinary Ghanaian.
Data from the informal sector, he said, shows that 800,000 Ghanaian businesses have now been registered for the TIN in view of the support they have received from the government due to the Coronavirus.
He argued that in order to revive the economy back to the pre-COVID levels, there is a need to generate more revenue, which is why the government is introducing taxes in some sectors.
According to him, the demands of Ghanaians are many and yet there is far less revenue to satisfy them.
“Do you go for more loans? I think in a period like this it is a give-and-take situation. You give away some and you take some considering areas where the impact will not be so severe,” he said.
He urged Ghanaians to carry themselves along in support of the government’s programmes in order to sustain the critical interventions it is pursuing.
Minister for Communications and Member for Ablekuma West Constituency, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, on the other hand, argued no Ghanaian can deny the fact that the Budget is forward-looking and progressive.
Those who deny the potential of the budget, she said, are not admitting to the conditions that Ghanaians have been forced to live under due to the global pandemic.
“The Coronavirus did not only affect Ghana and Ghanaians but affected the entire world and shattered economies like the US who are looking for innovative ways to keep the country running.”
“Ghana cannot do differently so I think it is a creative balance that the government has struck so that we all pick up a little bit of the burden.”
“If we are all paying one Cedi, it is easier than to ask 10 people to pay 100 Cedis hence the introduction of these taxes,” she said.
Member of Parliament for Yapei/Kusawgu John Jinapor, however, expressed surprise at what he called a plethora of taxes and charged Ghanaians to brace for difficult times ahead.
He questioned whether Ghanaians can bear any more taxes due to the effects of COVID on businesses that are still struggling to survive.
“All these taxes; is this the time to be taxing the people in this COVID era. Is that the right way to impose a tax on petroleum?”
“What has petroleum got to do with sanitation and who are those polluting and creating the mess,” he queried?
Meanwhile, Majority leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who did the presentation in Parliament, described it as a landmark budget that recounts Ghana’s experience in the most difficult combination of health and economic crisis that hit the nation.
He, however, stated that the indicators clearly demonstrate government has weathered the storm and is adequately ready for the one ahead.
This, he said, has been accomplished through the decisive leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.