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We'll resist tactics to reduce Minority's numbers in Parliament - Minority

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
We'll resist tactics to reduce Minority's numbers in Parliament - Minority
Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu.

The Minority in Parliament believes that the Attorney-General (A-G) is acting in bad faith just to get an unfair advantage in Parliament for the Akufo-Addo-led government to pass the proposed E-levy.

The A-G has dragged the National Democratic Congress( NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin North, James Gyakye Quayson, to the Accra High Court, charging him with criminal offences in relation to his alleged dual nationality when he contested the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Five counts of forgery of passport or travel certificate, knowingly making a false statutory declaration, perjury and false declaration for office has been made by the A-G against Mr Gyakye Quayson.

Read also: Assin North MP charged with perjury, other criminal offences

But reacting to the development in a press statement signed and issued by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu on Thursday, the Minority stated: “We wish to serve notice to the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government that the Minority Caucus in Parliament and its gallant 137 Members will remain resolute against the obnoxious E-levy because it is regressive, punitive and will not advance the interest and welfare of our people, especially at this time when Ghanaians are already overburdened with draconian taxes left, right and center, amidst growing economic hardships.”

Mr Iddrisu said Minority Members of Parliament are unfazed and will not be browbeaten by any intimidation attempts by the government to reduce their numbers in the house.

“We shall continue with all our might to resist the despotic Akufo-Addo/Bawumia regime and their use of crude Machiavellian tactics to reduce our numbers in Parliament in order to pass the obnoxious E-levy,” he observed.

He added, “Any attempt by President Akufo Addo to use the courts to tilt the balance of power in Parliament will be contrary to democratic norms, values and constitutionalism.”

Background

It is the case of the A-G that Mr Gyakye Quayson allegedly made a false statement to the Passport Office that he did not hold a passport to another country when he applied for a Ghanaian Passport.

E-Levy

Currently, the opposition NDC has 137 MPs with the ruling New Patriotic also having 137 MPs. There is one Independent MP who has declared his support for the NPP side.

The government in its 2021 budget proposed a 1.7% electronic transactions levy (E-Levy). The tax was due to take off on February, this year but that has been missed and the success of its implementation now hangs in the balance.

This follows the Minority in Parliament's insistence that the tax was counterproductive and a threat to financial inclusion and the drive towards a cash-lite society.

The National Democratic Congress Minority also contend that the levy was aiming to tax savings and the capital of the public and businesses in clear violation of the principles of taxation, hence the need for it to be withdrawn.

The Ministry of Finance has since stepped up public awareness of the need for the tax, while continuing with consultations to help garner public support and consensus for its passage later this month.

Considering the near hung parliament, the Minority NDC thinks that the government was using the Attorney-General and the Police administration through the court to reduce the numerical strength of the NDC in parliament in order for the government to pass the tax in parliament.

Below is a copu the Minority's statement

PRESS STATEMENT BY HON. HARUNA IDDRISU, MINORITY LEADER, ON BEHALF OF THE MINORITY CAUCUS IN PARLIAMENT ON THE ATTEMPTS BEING MADE BY GOVERNMENT TO REDUCE ITS NUMBERS TO PAVE THE WAY FOR THE PASSAGE OF THE OBNOXIOUS E-LEVY

The Minority Caucus in Parliament has become aware of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia autocratic regime’s resort to intimidation and scaremongering in their DESPERATE attempt to pass the obnoxious E-levy which is currently before Parliament.

Having failed several times to pass the much loathed E-levy in the wake of the nationalistic resistance of the gallant 137 NDC Members of Parliament, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government has now resorted to crude and disgraceful tactics to reduce the numbers of NDC MPS in the august house of Parliament, hoping that would help the regime to railroad the E-levy into law.

In what could be described as a sickening display of desperation by a sitting Government to push an undesirable, punitive and counter-productive tax measure down the throat of Ghanaians, the Akufo-Addo Government acting through its devious agent, notably Frank Davies has sought to injunct the Assin North NDC MP, Hon. James Gyakye Quayson from holding himself out as the lawfully-elected Member of Parliament for the good people of Assin North.

This latest act of desperation which has the active endorsement of the Attorney General and Minister for Justice comes at a time an Appeal and an Application for Stay of Execution filed against the Cape Coast High Court’s annulment of the 2020 Assin North Parliamentary Election is still pending before the Court of Appeal.

As though the above DESPERATE machinations were not enough, upon the instructions of President Akufo-Addo and the devious Attorney General and Minister for Injustice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, the Police Administration has called one of the Lawyers who represented the Hon. James Quayson in respect of the Assin North Parliamentary election petition, inviting him to make the Hon. Quayson available for service of a criminal charge on him for prosecution. Our information indicates that the said charge borders on an allegation that Hon. Quayson committed a crime by signing a declaration to the Electoral Commission to the effect that he was qualified to stand for election as an MP.

It must be placed on record that the legal propriety of the said declaration made by Hon. James Quayson was challenged at the time he submitted same to the Electoral Commission, whereupon the EC invited Hon. James Quayson and his detractors for an investigation of the said complaint. The Electoral Commission subsequently determined the matter in favour of Hon. James Quayson after he had adduced sufficient evidence to satisfy the Electoral Commission that he was very much qualified to stand for election, whereupon he was cleared to contest the election. In the light of these facts, how can it be properly contended that Hon. James Quayson criminally used a false declaration to deceive the Electoral Commission in order to stand for the said election?

Secondly, the issue of whether or not, per article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, Hon. James Quayson was qualified to stand as an MP, is a question of law pending before the Court of Appeal, Cape Coast, as well as the Supreme Court in various suits. Also, an application for Stay of Execution of the Cape Coast High Court’s annulment of the 2020 Assin North Parliamentary Election filed by Hon. Quayson is still pending before the Court of Appeal. Under the circumstances, the lawful and reasonable thing for the Ghana Police Service, the ruling NPP government and their surrogates to do is to abide the decision of the Court of Appeal on these processes. Any attempt by the Police to prosecute Hon. James Quayson on the conclusion or assumption that he was or is not qualified to contest the 2020 parliamentary election is prejudicial of the Court of Appeal and therefore contemptuous of same.

It is obvious that the Attorney-General and the Police administration are acting in bad faith just to get an unfair advantage in Parliament for the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government in its unbridled quest to pass the obnoxious E-levy. Clearly, a statement or declaration by Hon. James Quayson at any material time that he was qualified to contest the 2020 parliamentary election is his personal application and/or conclusion of the law on the facts and does not qualify as a statement of fact to which truth or falsehood may be implied. Applications or conclusions of law may only be right or wrong, but can neither be true nor false. A legal position adjudged by the Courts to be wrong has never been a basis for prosecuting the person who asserted it. Otherwise the moment a person's position of the law on facts is dismissed by a Court of Law, that person immediately becomes liable for perjury. That, in our opinion, is ridiculous and preposterous to say the least. No wonder, the court, we are reliably informed refused an application for bench warrant to issue for the arrest of the Hon. James Gyakye Quayson.

The will of the good people of Assin North who voted for Hon. James Quayson to represent them in Parliament cannot also be subverted by these DESPERATE manoeuvers of the Akufo Addo government.

We wish to serve notice to the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government that the Minority Caucus in Parliament and its gallant 137 Members will remain resolute against the obnoxious E-levy because it is regressive, punitive and will not advance the interest and welfare of our people, especially at this time when Ghanaians are already overburdened with draconian taxes left, right and center, amidst growing economic hardships. President Akufo-Addo and his sidekick, the untruthful Alhaji Bawumia should not think that Ghanaians can be forever cowed by the imposition of an atmosphere of fear and high handedness on the nation. Tyrants do not last forever. Ultimately, the good people of Ghana will have the last laugh.
The Ghanaian people should be assured that our Members of Parliament are unfazed and will not be browbeaten by these cowardly acts of intimidation by a government that is on borrowed time; a government whose only interest is creating new opportunities to loot and share the meager resources of Ghana even as Ghanaians groan under the yoke of hardships. We shall continue with all our might to resist the despotic Akufo-Addo/Bawumia regime and their use of crude Machiavellian tactics to reduce our numbers in Parliament in order to pass the obnoxious E-levy.

Any attempt by President Akufo Addo to use the courts to tilt the balance of power in Parliament will be contrary to democratic norms, values and constitutionalism. It is our hope that the courts will rise to the occasion and preserve and protect our democratic experiment which is grossly endangered.

HON. HARUNA IDDRISU
Minority Leader