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NDC Minority Blocks Incentives To Businesses

Parliament of Ghana is yet to grant tax exemptions for some 42 selected companies under the One District, One Factory (1D1F) programme, owing to delays by Parliament’s Finance Committee to complete scrutiny on the respective companies, a development which the Majority leader, Hon. Alexander Afenyo-Markin has decried as a deliberate move by the Minority to frustrate government’s efforts at attracting investment into the country.

In 2021, Government tendered a request to Parliament seeking tax exemptions for various businesses that had participated in government’s flagship 1D1F industrialization policy, seeking to send positive signals to the international investor community and thereby boost their contributions to the economy. The prospect of providing exemptions has been hindered through arduous parliamentary delays, particularly, demands for further deliberation and scrutiny by members of the Minority caucus.

In some of the latest arguments against the exemptions, Hon. Cassiel Ato Forson vehemently opposed the forwarding of the entire exemptions list from the committee stage, pointing to the existence of irregularities with some of the listed companies and their respective demanded amounts in tax exemptions.

The minority also shot down a proposition to allow some 15 companies which were assessed as having no such irregularities, to be presented to the floor of Parliament, leaving the majority leader visibly frustrated. While some of the opposing arguments against presenting the list may seem valid, the length of time (in its fourth year) considering the companies raises concerns about a deliberate effort to frustrate government.

The delays threaten to stifle industrial growth.

These exemptions are meant to lower operational costs, making it more attractive for businesses to set up and expand their operations. Without these incentives, the affected companies may scale back their plans, leading to slower industrialization and fewer job opportunities, thereby undermining the program’s objectives.

Again the impasse could negatively affect investor confidence in Ghana. International investors look for stability and predictability in economic policies. The perception of political gridlock and uncertainty surrounding the tax exemption process may alarm potential investors, fearing similar bureaucratic hurdles and a lack of policy consistency in the future.

It is imperative for Parliament to take advantage of its unique numerical outlook to advance strong bipartisan relations which shall inure to the benefit of Ghana, as healthy bipartisan collaborations invariably present more stable environments to favour businesses despite the specific government of the day.

Majority Leader Disappointed

After the Speaker had asked the Committee to go back and do the right thing before the motion is properly laid before the House when it resumes, an obviously frustrated Afenyo-Markin sprang to his feet to express his misgivings:

“Mr. Speaker I am speaking with a lot of pain I don’t want to get into certain areas. But since 20th of March I have been urging on them [the Finance Committee] to meet and then you now say you could not form a quorum and all that. Let’s suspend sitting to go and deal with the non contentious ones and come back

“Mr. Speaker what we are doing is wrong; all these years, what have we done and we say they should be given more time. There is nothing fishy except that we cannot mislead investors to come into our country only to frustrate hem. We cannot and we should not encourage that as a House.

“Mr. Speaker, people invest their capital, we encourage investors to come into the country, and they set up factories only for us to frustrate them. Why?  Mr. Speaker why? Our people are not being employed because factories have not been completed. The way we are dealing with this matter is unfair”, Afenyo-Markin noted.

The Majority Leader, still on his feet, disagreed with the notion that tax exemptions are not in the interest of the State.

He argued: “When you give incentives, you are aiding production. I am not an economist but that is trite economics. You are giving tax incentives to aide production. When the business man has enough, he is able to invest back into the business and that is the practice.

“I would encourage then that the non-contentional ones that they say they have, they should make them available and deal with it. This is becoming too much Mr. Speaker, give them a deadline. They had all this opportunity”


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