Parliament approves Covid-19 Health Recovery Levy despite Minority’s resistance

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Parliament on Tuesday approved the introduction of the Covid-19 Health Recovery Levy.

The move will see taxes imposed on the supply of goods and services of imports to raise revenue to support Covid-19 expenditure and its related matters.

This conclusion was reached amid vehement resistance from the Minority side of the House during a debate of the 2021 budget statement.

According to the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, the inability for the Health Ministry to justify the manner in which Covid-19 funds were expended at the height of the pandemic makes it difficult to appreciate the judiciousness to be exhibited in the new levy.

He further claimed that despite the suspension, the Financial Responsibility Act has gone a step further to spend lavishly under the guise of the novel coronavirus.

But Health Minster, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu fought these claims, stating that it is too early in the day to demand accountability over a pandemic that is not yet over.

Mr. Iddrisu described the bill as a regressive tax which “will impose further hardship on the Ghanaian.”

“It makes no distinction between the rich and the poor, it is an anonymous… to the NPP’s own manifesto promise of moving from taxation to production. That is a somersault of policy when even during the Covid times you’re coming with these new taxes,” he said on the floor.

He says the bill did not expressly indicate clear-cut modalities in which the about ¢1.4 billion potential revenue is expected to be utilized.

“The fact that you benefited from the suspension of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, does not mean that you should act irresponsibly in terms of not prioritizing government expenditure or controlling government expenditure.”

While acknowledging the need for a definite plan for the levy, Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was, however, of a different view.

The Suame MP explained that the evolving nature of issues surrounding the Covid-19 and its unstable expenditure will impede efforts to compartmentalize the uses of the new Covid-19 levy.

For this reason, he backed the motion to pass the Covid-19 Health Recovery Bill 2021.

Subsequently, Speaker Alban Bagbin accepted the motion after it was passed in a voice vote.

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