Minority Chief Whip Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka was compelled to withdraw a comment in Parliament that President Akufo-Addo has deceived Ghanaians.
The Asawase National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP had said although the President promised to scrap a 2015 petroleum tax, his government is now only seeking to reduce it. This he said is deception.
“What word should I use to describe it?” the Minority Chief Whip braced himself for a heckling Majority.
But the description was considered by the Speaker of Parliament as insulting and unparliamentary and the former Sports Minister was asked to withdraw.
Mohammed Muntaka despite complying appeared surprised that his comment was considered insulting.
Staying on the subject of a motion seeking to reduce petroleum taxes, Muntaka expressed disappointment in government for the marginal slash from 15 percent to 13 percent.
He said Ghanaians “now know the character and behaviour of those who told them that when they get power they will scrap it”.
He explained the history of the tax which was brought to help government make up for the staggering and unanticipated drop in oil price on the international market.
The Mahama-led NDC administration had planned its 2015 budget on the estimated price of oil at 60 percent per barrel. But the price fell below 30 percent, whipping of huge revenues.
The 17.5 percent tax was therefore introduced, but the NPP while in opposition criticised government for the ‘insensitive’ taxation of the ordinary Ghanaian and promised to scrap it.
Since it took over in 2017, the tax was slashed to 15 percent in the first year and government is seeking a further 2 percent drop.
The cumulative effect of the decrease on the tax is an average of a four percent drop in the price of petrol and diesel at the pump.
Mohammed Muntaka called the decrease as negligible as throwing a stone at an elephant’s thigh.
“The elephant is not going to feel it. It is not going to impact the lives of Ghanaians in any way…I bet you, you will hear what the ordinary Ghanaian will be saying,” he noted.
The Asawase NDC MP argued that government has no reason to maintain the tax because the problem it was introduced to solve no longer exists.
He argued that petroleum prices are above the budgeted $57 per barrel hence government was already making enough of its expected income from petroleum.
“If you are really mindful of the suffering of the ordinary Ghanaian, won’t you pass it on so that they will have a relief,” he queried the Majority MPs.
He expressed worry that politicians are losing the trust of the people over broken promises. “When we are in opposition and we say we want to do something let’s keep our word”, he said.