Parliament has postponed the scheduled presentation of the 2019 mid-year budget by the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, from July 22 to July 29, 2019.
This followed a request by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, for the change to be shifted to allow the National Democratic Congress (NDC) minority Members of Parliament (MPs) to go through the filing of their nominations for parliamentary primaries.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo, announced the postponement of the date in Parliament last Friday while presenting the business statement for the House ending July 26, 2019.
Responding, Mr Iddrisu said the MPs from the Minority caucus would be in their respective constituencies to file their nominations next week.
Therefore, he said, the Minority MPs would not be in Parliament for a presentation of a mid-year budget.
Mr Iddrisu said the change of date was welcomed as it would allow the MPs from the Minority side to finish the filing of their nominations and prepare for the mid-year budget presentation.
Even before the presentation of the mid-year budget, the Minority caucus in Parliament have raised issues and made some demands.
A statement issued by the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee and Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, asked Mr Ofori-Atta to announce a withdrawal of the luxury vehicle tax in the mid-year budget review.
“Ghanaians expect the outright removal of the economically inefficient luxury vehicle tax”, it said.
The Minority caucus also cautioned the government to exercise restraint and curb its voracious appetite for borrowing.
It again urged the government not to adopt the practice of replacing critical government expenditure with ill-advised spending on frivolous campaign promises.
Mr Ofori-Atta announced the luxury tax in the 2018 mid-year budget review that he presented to Parliament.
The levy is to be paid on first-registration and subsequently annually during renewals and affects vehicles with engine capacities ranging from 2.9 litres and above.
Vehicles with 2.9 – 3.0 litres engine capacity are supposed to pay GH¢1,000, 3.5 – 4.0 litres pay GH¢1,500 and 4.5 litres upward pay GH¢2,000.
Since the introduction of the tax, several associations and unions have kicked against it with the explanation that their vehicles are not ‘luxury’. Vehicles affected include tipper-trucks, school buses and oil tankers.
The statement said Ghanaians were expecting a realistic mid-year budget that would address the hardships they were currently facing and not the announcement of populist, vote buying gimmicks.
It said last mid year’s review saw a blatant breaking of the campaign promise not to heap additional taxes on the people of Ghana.
“The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government used the back door to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) by five per cent — a move which has heaped additional hardship on the people.
“It is the expectation of the people of Ghana, that such subterfuge and shenanigan will not be repeated in this mid year review. Our position still remains. You can do all the propaganda about cosmetic deficit numbers, but the public debt will expose you,” it said.