…….…After announcing removal of spare parts duties, Finance Minister ‘Nicodemously’ sneaks to Parliament to reinstate it
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been caught flatfooted in a betrayal of trust that leaves President Akufo-Addo, looking more treacherous than Brutus himself to spare parts dealers of the country.
After breezing into Parliament in March, this year, to announce with aplomb that the Akufo-Addo government was removing all duties on imported spare parts, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, on Tuesday,this week, sneaked a bill into Parliament that backtracks on the promise.
Former Deputy Finance Minister and MP for Ejumako Enyan Essiam, Casiel Ato Forson, has sounded the knell on the Finance Minister’s ‘Nicodemous’ return to Parliament to get most of the so-called removed duties reinstated.
“Yesterday, in parliament, they (Finance Ministry) brought us a bill for us to consider and approve. At the second reading, it was clear that the object of the bill is to abolish only import duties, which is a subset of duties, at the ports and some selected vehicular spare parts only.
“So the question is, how come the budget statement announced abolishing of all duties and all spare parts only for us to consider a bill in Parliament that will give legal backing to the policy that only says that we are going to abolish some selected spare parts and only import duties, not all duties?” Hon. Ato Forson queried yesterday on radio.
In March, this year, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, had announced that the Akufo-Addo government was abolishing all duties at the ports.
These duties at the ports comprised all duties, including ECOWAS levy, EDIF levy and 15% VAT on imports.
At the March budget reading, the minister had intentionally farmed for endearment for his government from among spare parts dealers, mainly based at the Abossey Okai enclave in Accra.
“To all of our friends at Abossey Okai, we will abolish duties on the importation of spare parts,” Ken Ofori-Atta had promised to loud applause from members of the Majority side in Parliament.
The promise had invoked jubilation among spare part dealers at Abossey Okai, who had massively bought into President Akufo-Addo’s promise from opposition to remove all duties on imported spare parts if he was voted President.
However, as it turns out, three months after that announcement, the finance minister, on the blindside of the TV cameras that had captured his direct promise to the Abossey Okai spare parts dealers, pushed a bill before Parliament that backtracks on the promise.
In the second reading of the bill, Hon. Casiel Ato Forson points out that only import duties are to be removed from imported spare parts, leaving at least some 15 other levies intact, a situation that will make the reduction of duties totally insignificant.
The MP for Ejumako Enyan Essiam also says that the bill from Ken Ofori-Atta before Parliament now only abolishes duties on selected spare parts and not all spare parts as the government had promised.
“My worry is that you can see a clear policy inconsistency and deception on the part of government, where they announce something and do something different when it comes to implementation,” he told Accra-based Radio Gold’s Sammy Eshun yesterday.
Hon. Ato Forson also questions: “Why is it that the ‘all spare parts’ has become ‘selected spare parts’?”
He underscored that the change in stance is a matter of bad faith that had been coming since the Finance Minister announced the abolition in March.
He pointed out that, even after the spare parts dealers at Abossey Okai had been given cause to complain about the fact that the announced removal of duties were not taking effect, the government had come up with a baseless excuse that they needed clearance from ECOWAS in order for the abolition to take effect.
“When after reading the budget the Abossey Okai spare parts dealers had complained that the reductions had not taken effect, they claimed they needed to go to ECOWAS to ask ECOWAS for permission… yesterday in parliament we were made to believe that Ghana didn’t have to go to the ECOWAS Secretariat to ask for permission because Ghana has 170 exempt lines,” he said
He questioned why it took so long for the government to realize that Ghana had 170 exempt lines with ECOWAS.
Even so, he warned that those 170 exempt lines had a lifespan of only five years after they had come into effect in 2015 and that beyond 2020, those exempt lines will not be in effect anymore. Thus the duties that are neutralized by these exempt lines will be reinstated after 2020.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels