Parliament to approve ESLA, Talk Tax increases today

Parliament later today is expected to pass four Bills to give effect to proposals from the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta in the mid-year budget review presented on Monday.

The bills are the Communication Service Tax Amendment Bill to increase the “talk tax” from 6 percent to 9 percent, the Earmarked Funds Capping and Re-Alignment Bill to redefine government revenue in line with a recent Supreme Court ruling, the Energy Sector Amendment Levies Bill and the Luxury Vehicle Levy Repeal Bill to withdraw the taxes on luxury vehicles.

Abena Osei-Asare, a Deputy Finance Minister, said the proposals were already before the relevant committees in Parliament.

“I have presented it and it has been referred to the Finance committee and the communications committee…They are going to sit on it, work on it and bring it back. They will do a report and bring it back to Parliament.”

ESLA, Talk Tax increase proposals have been the subject of criticism after the mid-year budget review.

The government has defended these increases as necessary for maximizing revenue following missed fiscal targets.

The Chief Executive Officer for the Consumer Protection Agency, Kofi Kapito, for example, described the increase in the communication service tax as a lazy approach.

A member of Parliament’s Communications Committee, Sam Nartey George also urged Ghanaians to kick against the increase in the talk tax.

For the ESLA increases, the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) has petitioned the Speaker of Parliament over concerns that the increases will result in fuel price hikes.

The mid-year budget reviews saw an upward adjustment in the Road Fund Levy (RFL), the Energy Debt Recovery Levy (EDRL) and the Price Stabilization and Recovery Levy (PSRL).

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