BY STEPHEN ODOI LARBI
THE MINORITY National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) have cautioned that they will resist any attempt by the government to impose tax on house-keeping money, known in the local parlance as ‘chop money’, if it is introduced in the 2018 budget.
The government intends to introduce taxes on mobile money transactions by all the network operators in the country in the 2018 budget and economic policy with sole objective of mobilising enough resources internally for development projects.
But in the view of the minority, such a measure will hugely affect low income earners, especially those who receive their housekeeping money (chop money) via mobile money transactions.
Addressing stakeholders at a roundtable breakfast meeting in Accra on the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy of the government, the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee and former Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, said “it is also regressive because compared to the relatively affluent non-core financial services that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) removed for the relatively rich, this insensitive [mobile money umbrella tax] will seriously affect millions of Ghanaians who use their telephones to transfer small amounts to relatives.”
The Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, will be presenting the 2018 budget statement and economic policy of the government on behalf of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on November 15, 2017, which is expected to focus on industrialisation, agriculture and consolidate gains made after almost a year in office.
There are strong indications that the government may push ahead with some fiscal reforms that could lead to further cuts in tax rates. Social intervention programmes such as free Senior High School and nurses training allowance would be maintained.
However, the Minority maintains that it is an indirect way of taxing transactions such as transfers of school fees and medical bills.
Mr Forson added that the NPP must provide some relief to low-income families from “chop money” transfer tax, as it is nothing more than a backdoor move to reintroduce the taxes they removed last year.
On the country’s debt, Mr Forson indicated that the national debt had ballooned alarmingly within 11 months that the Akufo- Addo government had been in charge of the country.
At the last reckoning, the public debt had increased from GH¢ 122.6 billion in January, 2017 to GH¢ 138.6 billion as of June and is set to increase to 150 billion by end of December 2017 due to recent developments.