Minority Vows To Resist '30 Seconds' VAT Law

Deputy Minority Leader Dominic Nitiwul claims the controversial VAT Bill was capriciously passed into law in "30 seconds" without any word from the Minority. He said the government in connivance with the majority completely "disrespected Parliament" by increasing VAT rate by 2.5 per cent without any explanation or contribution from the minority. The same chaos that attended the introduction of VAT in the early 90s was present when the Majority in Parliament attempted to increase the VAT rate from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent on Friday. The minority staged a walk out in protest accusing the Majority of smuggling the 2.5 per cent increase into the bill. Dominic Nitiwul said on Asempa FM's Ekosii Sen- programme that the House had been considering the VAT Bill since July of this year, but swore that at no point did government mention an increase in the rate to 15 per cent. According to him, even when the minority leader asked the finance minister if there was going to be any such increase in the VAT rate, the minister denied and said no such increase had been discussed in Cabinet. He found it outrageous that the government with the support of the Majority would spring a surprise on everybody by pushing through the bill and would not even allow a debate on it. The Minority's protest and walk-out notwithstanding, the VAT Bill was amended and passed into law, awaiting a presidential accent. Nitiwul swore that the Minority would use every legal means at its disposal to prevent the implementation of the new law. In a reaction, the Deputy Finance Minister Kweku Rickett Hagan accused the minority of playing politics with the issue. According to him, the Minority knew about the increase but was only unhappy with the procedure being used to pass the new law. He explained the money to be raised from the increased will support consumption in the budget. When probed further to explain what the monies would be used for, he said with the 25 per cent reduction in newly announced 78. per cent hikes in electricity there is a fiscal deficit of 400 million Ghana cedis which government has to look for money to pay. When host Kojo Asare Baffuor Acheampong asked him if government was robbing Peter to pay Paul the deputy minister said government needs money to develop the country and can only raise it through taxes.