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Minority Leader, 2 others challenge E-Levy in Supreme Court

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, and two other legislators from the minority side, have filed a suit at the Supreme Court with the aim of invalidating the passage of the Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy) by Parliament last Tuesday.

Mr Iddrisu, Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, are asking the court to declare the proceedings and the voting in Parliament that led to the passage of the E-Levy unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

The plaintiffs are further seeking an order from the highest court of the land setting aside the passage of the E-Levy.

It is the contention of the three legislators that Parliament did not form the required quorum for decision making as stipulated under Article 104(1) of the 1992 Constitution which was recently interpreted by the Supreme Court in the case of Justice Abdulai v Attorney -General.

The writ filed by their lawyer, Godwin Kudzo Tameklo, is pursuant to Article 2(1) of the 1992 Constitution which allows citizens of the country to file actions regarding alleged violations of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

Passage

Parliament, with the minority staging a walk out last Tuesday, approved the E-Levy paving the way for the government to rake in about GH¢6.9 billion in revenue this year.

The bill, which imposes a 1.5 per cent tax on all electronic and mobile money transfers, was approved by 137 Majority Members of Parliament (MPs).

The rate is a downward revision from the initially proposed 1.75 per cent.

Reliefs

The Minority Leader and the other plaintiffs are of the contention that Parliament passed the E-levy with a quorum of 136 MPs instead of the required 138 which would be half of the 275 members as stipulated under Article 104 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.

They are, therefore, seeking a declaration from the apex court that based on Article 104 (1) and the authority of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Justice Abdulai case dated March 9, the constitutional quorum for decision making is “138 MPs (present in the Chamber of Parliament out of the 275 MPs, and not 136 MPs present in the Chamber of Parliament”.

Also, they are seeking a relief that Parliament lacked the required constitutional quorum for decision making when it voted to pass the E-Levy because there were only “136 Members of Parliament present in the Chamber of Parliament”.

They are further seeking a declaration that the purported second and third reading, when the Speaker put the question for the consideration of the E-Levy and the “subsequent passage of the E-Levy is in contravention of Article 104 (1) of the Constitution, and is therefore, null, void and of no effect”.

Another relief being sought by the plaintiffs is an “order setting aside the purported passage of the Electronic Transfer Levy Bill, 2021, by 136 Members of Parliament of the Majority Caucus present in the chamber of Parliament on March 29, 2022 as being unconstitutional, null and void”.

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