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Prof. Bokpin describes passage of e-levy bill as unfortunate – Citi Business News

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Economist, Prof. Godfred Bokpin is disappointed that the majority in parliament has passed the controversial electronic transfer levy bill.

The e-levy has been a major source of tension in Parliament and even among the public since it was introduced in the 2022 budget.

But Parliament on Tuesday passed the e-levy bill without the Minority MPs, who had staged a walkout.

Prof Bokpin reacting to the development told Citi Business News that “There are more efficient, progressive, fairer and equitable means of generating more tax revenue by improving efficiency along with existing tax handles. How much this e-levy can raise is far lower than what we could have gained if we had passed the exemption bill in 2019.”

“During the 2019 SONA, the President told us that the biggest threat to Ghana’s revenue base is an exemption and told us that in 2018 alone, Ghana lost GHS4.66 billion and assured us that the new bill is being sent to Parliament. After all these years, nothing has been done. But look at the urgency with which we want to pass the e-levy. When you do that, you’re creating some sort of imbalance that says that the economy is set up to favour foreign capital against domestic capital formation and that is unfortunate.”

The levy, which was amended from 1.75 percent to 1.5 percent today, Tuesday, March 29, 2022, will be a tax on electronic transactions, which includes mobile-money payments.

The charge will apply to electronic transactions that are more than GH¢100 daily.

Critics of the proposal have warned that this new levy will negatively impact the Fintech space, as well as hurt low-income people and those outside the formal banking sector.

The levy has been the source of tension in Parliament since it was introduced in the 2022 budget.

The tensions culminated in a scuffle between lawmakers in Parliament in December 2021.

The government has, however, argued the levy would widen the tax net and that could raise an extra GH¢6.9 billion in 2022.

There are also concerns that the government may securitize proceeds from the e-levy to raise extra revenue.



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Aqua Africa, CWSA conduct community engagement training for rural communities

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In support of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (MSWR) in meeting the government of Ghana’s ‘Water for All’ policy, Aqua Africa and the Community, Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) has conducted an in-depth training and orientation programme for 150 rural communities.

This is to ensure the communities were aware, involved and informed prior to the arrival on the implementation teams later this month.

The community engagement training was the first of its kind to be coordinated in conjunction with CWSA and Aqua Africa

The 5-day workshop, arranged by the Aqua Africa Community Engagement team in partnership with the regional Extension Service Specialist (ESS) from CWSA, with the aim to equip the participants with the necessary skill set to guide key stakeholders within the community on the benefits of the Rural Communities and Small Town Water Supply Project (RCSTWSP) which is to be delivered across five of the regions in Ghana.

Each of the 13 participants was taken through the community engagement strategy, detailing the composition of the diverse communities they would be visiting to ensure that key stakeholders within the community were fully informed on the work plans that are due to take place later this year.

The government of Ghana’s vision for the water sector, as enshrined in the Water Sector Strategic Development Plan, is for ‘all people living in Ghana have access to adequate, safe, affordable, reliable and sustainable water services, and practice safe sanitation and hygiene’.

To maintain this, the training also included a visit to a local community within the Eastern Region to allow for hands-on practice, meeting with community chiefs and members.

Rita Ambadire, Community Relations Manager at Aqua Africa said “it was a great occasion for both teams to bond and provided an opportunity for all regional community engagement teams to carry the same message. CWSA and AA expressed their assurance to work harmoniously together to effectively engage and mobilise the project communities for successful project implementation in the five regions.”

The project value of €30 million euros was a 100% structured financed project through by UK Export Finance & HSBC.

Aqua Africa was accredited as the Green Loan water project by UKEF & HSBC providing nano-filtration systems to 150 communities with water quality challenges. The full project will deliver a sustainable project that will alleviate 280,000 people from the plight of daily water poverty.

By providing clean drinking water, contributing to seven of nine sub-goals under the UN Sustainable Development Goal for Water & Sanitation (SDG 6), Aqua Africa is supporting the Government of Ghana by improving water quality & efficiency as well as by adapting the water collection process, impacting the advancement of further SDGs 1, 3, 5, 8 & 9.

The climate-smart solution of installing off-grid solar-panelled systems will apply innovative technology and financing methods that will give access to water in communities with revenue secured through a digitalised ‘pay as you fetch‘ approach.

A percentage of revenue will be allocated for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) to secure community management through maintenance and any future expansion of the water systems.



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Agyapa deal still unconscionable and unpatriotic – Bright Simmons

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Vice President of IMANI Africa, Bright Simmons.

Honorary Vice President at IMANI Ghana, Bright Simons, has reiterated his reservations about the controversial Agyapa Royal deal; stating that, the deal, remains ‘unconscionable’ and ‘unpatriotic’.

He made these comments, while contributing to discussions on NewsFile on Saturday.

In his submission, he rehashed the point that, the deal will not inure to the benefit of Ghanaians, and therefore the need for it to be completely discarded.

According to him, the structuring of the deal alone, gives reason for worry; given that it threatens the minimum royalties Ghana derives from its gold and mineral reserves.

“The most important is that, no government should be given the power to deny future governments of revenue in the fashion that is being proposed at the rate that is being proposed.

We’ve seen instances where consistently, the current government takes future streams of income that other governments will use, front loads it, keep that money for today, and forgets about future generations.

Think of all the money from ESLA or the energy levies. Think of the monies from the GETFUND. And consistently, we create these structures, front load the money, spend it, forgetting how we are going to pay for our other debts in a few years forward. We think that is not really acceptable”, he lamented.

He also added that, “there should be a sense in which even if the government wanted to securitise the gold, through a much more cleaner, efficient process than has been proposed, they should not be looking at all the discretionary income that we earn from royalties apart from those that are bound by statute to other purposes.

That money that they want to put in, they should have put it in a smaller fraction of the gold at a much higher valuation”.

The comments by Bright Simons, were in reaction to a recent call by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, for a re-look at the controversial Agyapa Royalties Agreement, instead of abandoning it.

Mr. Ofori-Atta said the deal must be taken through the appropriate process in order to make it work because it could reduce the country’s debt exposure.

Speaking at a press briefing to announce details of the African Development Bank’s 2022 Annual General Meeting on Thursday, the Finance Minister explained that the Agyapa deal “is not about whether the monetisation of mineral royalties or listing of the company is bad or good, it is good because that is how you raise resources”.

But Bright Simmons thinks otherwise. In expressing his reservations on NewsFile, he accused the Finance Minister of failing to engage the relevant stakeholders on the deal, after its implementation was stalled.

This position was further reiterated by Dr. Steve Manteaw and the Executive Director of the African Centre for Energy Policy, Benjamin Boakye. Expressing their opinions on NewsFile, they posited that failure of the Finance Minister to widen consultations on the deal, is unhealthy.

Making reference to the initial circumstances of the Agyapa deal, Bright Simmons praised the efforts of the former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, for his rigour and vigilance in exposing the gaps in the deal.

“So our argument is, this is a way to take something that belongs to the people of Ghana, and give it to investors and others that are perhaps favoured by this administration. But not necessarily people that if Ghanaians had a say in the matter, they will want to take over those assets”, he added.



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Government is partly responsible for unprecedented proposed tariffs – Dr Manteaw

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A policy analyst and co-chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Dr. Steve Manteaw, has accused government of having a hand in the high increment in tariffs, proposed by utility service providers.

According to him, the failure of government to address the challenges in the economy, is what has compelled the utility service providers to table the said proposals.

“The demands that the utility companies are making are generally reflective of the challenges within the larger macro economic sphere, such as inflation, that is spiraling out of control.

A Cedi that cannot stand its ground against major trading currencies. Interest rates that have fallen behind inflation. And for these reasons, government bares part of the responsibility for the unprecedented tariff increases that the companies are asking”, he explained.

He added that, “If government were to manage the macro economy very well, and if our Cedi were to hold its ground against the major trading currencies, perhaps the extent of the demand wouldn’t be as astronomical as it is now”.

Dr. Manteaw made these remarks, while contributing to discussions on Newsfile on Saturday, in relation to the proposed tariff increments by utility service providers in the country.

He however intimated that the proposed increments can also be blamed on ‘the supply chain disruptions arising out of the COVID-19 effects and the general price increases globally’.

Currently, the Electricity Company of Ghana is demanding a 148% increase in tariff.

A proposal from the power distributor, submitted to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), wants the adjustment to cover the period 2019 and 2022.

It also proposed an average increase of 7.6% in tariff over the next four years to cover Distribution Service Charges (DSC).

On its part, the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) is also demanding a 334% increase in tariff. The GWCL in its proposal said over the years, the approved tariffs have not been fully cost-reflective.

These proposals have generated widespread conversation, with many Ghanaians expressing their disapproval of same.

Following the concerns raised, GWCL stated that should the general public refuse to support the company’s drive to get customers to pay realistic tariffs, it may have to halt operations in the future.

Amidst these controversies, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) is expected to announce new utility tariffs by July 1, 2022.

According to the Acting Director of Research and Corporate Affairs at PURC, the Commission has been interrogating the companies since receiving the proposals to ascertain their need for tariff increment.

Speaking on Newsfile on Saturday, Dr. Eric Obutey stated that “for now, we are about finishing the stakeholder consultations. In the coming weeks, we will be meeting with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy and we will be meeting with the TUC as well”.

Aside from these entities, the PURC, Dr. Obutey added, will also have a hearing where the general public would be encouraged to voice their concerns on the increments that ECG and GWCL are proposing.

“The Commission is looking at the first of July to come up with adjustment in tariffs. So between now and the middle of June, we will be having these stakeholder engagements and public hearings and we will do all the number crunching and come up with a tariff”, Dr. Obutey said.



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