Ghana MPs ‘vote’ with knuckles over mobile money tax

Ghana MPs brawl in parliament

A government-sponsored bill to tax electronic transactions, including mobile money payments drew out the bile in the country’s parliament with Members of the Parliament ‘voting’ with knuckles Monday night.

Verbal opposition to the bill turned inadequate, then it came to push, then shove and finally punches, while some doves tried to separate the two sides.

The chaos started after opposition MPs rushed forward to prevent Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei Owusu from leaving his seat to vote, local media reports.

He was chairing the session, which was then adjourned because of the disorder.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has rejected the proposed levy of 1.75% on electronic transactions, which includes mobile-money payments.

It says it will hit low-income people and those outside the formal banking sector.

But Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Artta has said it is necessary to widen the tax net, arguing that it could raise an extra 6.9bn Ghanaian Cedi ($1.15bn; £870m) next year.

The parliamentary session began on Monday morning and broke up after midnight, the local Graphic newspaper reports.

The deputy speaker was seen as crucial as parliament has been heavily divided over the proposed tax.

It was approved by parliament’s finance committee by 13 votes to 12, but only after its chairman cast the decisive vote in favour of the proposal, the Graphic says.

 

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