With the inception of mobile money transactions, life has been better for Ghanaians as far as sending and receiving money is concerned. Telecommunication giants in Ghana such as MTN and Vodafone are providing this service currently.
Products such as MTN MoMo and Vodafone Cash have become household names in Ghana’s mobile banking sector due to their benefits which cannot be overlooked.
With just a few taps on a phone, a person living in Sunyani can pay for deliveries coming from Accra and other towns, as well as neighbouring countries. Workers can receive their salaries without any hassle. Also, people have gained employment by working as mobile money agents.
It is undeniable that mobile money transactions have become an attractive and popular alternative to pay for goods and services due to how seamless and quick they are. It is clear that the government of Ghana has caught on to this popular alternative to cash payments and it has decided to take advantage of it.
This is what has led to a bill that has generated conversations for more than three months - the Electronic Levy (E-Levy).
Back in November 2021, it was announced by the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori Atta, that the government wished to pass a bill inParliament. The bill, known as the Electronic Levy Bill, would put tax on mobile money transactions above GH¢100.00 at a rate of 1.75 per cent.
He explained that a lot of working-class citizens did not pay tax, making the government lose a lot of internal revenue every year. In a bid to tax them, the E-Levy was suggested to help generate money to pay outstanding debts and undertake developmental projects.
On the surface, the levy did not seem so bad. However, the levy was met with rage by most of the citizens. Some claimed the tax rate was too high. Now, we hear the minister has withdrawn the bill and made some amendments, with some speculating that it is going to be 1.5 per cent.
However, Ghanaians are not convinced. Others also claim that due to the government’s ambiguity with regard to transparency and accountability, proceeds from the levy will be used to feed Ghanaian politicians and their families. Some Ghanaians also want the government to show what they have used the revenue accrued from the Ghana Revenue Authority’s taxes and tollbooths for. This will vouch for their transparency and make Ghanaians accept the levy.
Here are my thoughts: There is nothing wrong with a government trying to generate income for the country through taxes. Taxation partly contributed to the growth of most of these developed countries we constantly compare Ghana to. We may never know whether this levy will turn the fortunes of the country around should we give it a chance.
Maybe we would not have to cry over our poor roads, inadequate hospitals and dilapidated schools. Maybe there would be no need to think of going back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and maybe “Fix The Country” conveners would rest.
And this is where transparency comes into the picture. As stated previously, the government of Ghana’s transparency is questionable. Questions have been raised on how proceeds from the levy will be used should it be passed.
The government will have to be accountable for everything it uses from the levy proceeds for. Ghanaians should be able to locate all projects and initiatives funded by the levy. The Auditor General should also provide reports of government’s expenditure on how proceeds from the levy are used annually.
I know the levy will not solve all of Ghana’s problems, but as far as development is concerned, I think the move is laudable. Ghanaians should give the levy a try and the government should strive for transparency.
Solomon Bennett Memorial School,