The Minority in Parliament has described the 2021 budget which has been christened as Completion, Consolidation, and Continuation” as ‘Siemi Preko’ budget which literally means bury me now.
He was responding to the presentation done by Caretaker Finance Minister Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu.
The leader of the side, Haruna Iddrisu noted that Ghanaians can only brace up for increased hardship and suffering due to the new levies introduced by the government.
Mr. Osei Kyei Mensa-Bonsu, in his presentation, said there would be a 5.7% increase in petroleum prices.
It followed the introduction of two levies by the Akufo-Addo administration in the 2021 Budget Statement presented to Parliament on Friday, March 12, 2021.
“I should note that on the basis of existing world crude oil prices, the implementation of the two proposed levies for sanitation and pollution as well as to pay for excess capacity charges, would result in a 5.7% increase in petroleum prices at the pump,” he stated.
The Akufo-Addo administration is proposing a Sanitation and Pollution Levy (SPL) of 10 pesewas on the price per litre of petrol/diesel under the Energy Sector Levies Act (ESLA).
When crude oil prices increased substantially between 2017 and 2018, the administration abolished excise taxes and reduced the special petroleum tax from 17.5% to 13% to mitigate the impact on domestic petroleum prices.
But, due to the difficulties faced by the economy arising from higher excess capacity payments in the energy sector, which have not reflected in electricity tariffs, Mensa-Bonsu who’s also the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Majority Leader told Parliament that “there is the need to find additional resources to cover the excess capacity charges that have resulted from the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) signed by the previous Government which required payments for capacity charges even when the plants involved were idle or unutilised.”
He also announced that the government will introduce a Covid-19 Health Levy of 1% on VAT, Flat Rate Scheme (VFRS) and a 1% on National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) as part of revenue measures to help the economy recover.
The levies he explained would be used for the procurement of vaccines and the establishment of 14 medical waste treatment facilities.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister said the levy “will also assist in the construction of 33 major health projects, the recruitment of more health professionals and agenda 111.”
He further announced a financial clean-up levy of 5%, road toll increases among others.
Reacting to these increases, the Minority leader said citizens would be encountering severe hardship.
He wondered why the government that opposed the issue of VAT has today, introduced an increment in VAT.
To him, the budget is blame the pandemic and profit from the pandemic budget.
“Ghanaians can only brace themselves for increased hardship and suffering. But what is intriguing is VAT. Between 1995 and 1998, that side did not believe in it. They said it was ‘kumi preko’. For today, it would be ‘siemi preko. Where is value, where is the principle in our politics? In 1995 and 1998, they didn’t see merit in VAT, today they are going to be dependent on VAT. They owe the Ghanaian people an explanation.”
However, Deputy Majority Leader Afenyo Markin refuted the claims describing the budget as ‘wonya wohien budget’.
He said the Minority has nothing against the budget and Ghanaians have accepted it.
In his view, the Minority can not match the Majority when it comes to debate in parliament.
He expressed their preparedness for the debate in the budget.
Meanwhile, the Speaker has admonished them to brace themselves for the debate since they only have two weeks to approve the budget.