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Opposition frowns as parliament approves ‘controversial’ E-Levy in Ghana



The legislature in Ghana has approved a new contested tax on electronic transactions which will introduce a 1.5 percent taxation on electronic money transfers and according to the government, help raise $900m in much-needed revenue.

The new tax, which is known as the E-levy has sparked widespread popular criticism in the West African country.

Ghana’s Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Ken Ofori-Atta in the 2022 budget statement and economic policy that was presented before parliament in November 2021  revealed the government’s intention to tax all electronic transactions in the informal sector to cover the tax net.

Opposition legislators however staged a walkout of debates while the majority went on to pass the bill into act.

 “The Electronic Transfer Levy duly read today after the consideration stage has been passed,” Alban Bagbin, the speaker of parliament said.

Before they walking out of the debate however, opposition legislators dismissed the new tax as unfair.

A lawmaker from the opposition, Isaac Adongo said “the people have roundly rejected the e-levy and our constituents have told us to reject it, so why is the president imposing it on us?”

“What is the crime of Ghanaians that now the government wants to use their pockets as collateral?” Adongo remarked.

The newly passed E-levy would cover all inward remittances (which would be paid by the recipient), all person-to-person (P2P) mobile transactions (which includes sending of funds to another account, payment for goods and services, payment of utilities, all POS/Merchant payments.

A number of African countries have expanded the scope of their indirect taxes to cover digital services, but only a few have thus far implemented some form of direct digital services tax that applies to non-residents with no physical presence in their respective countries.

Earlier, this month, reported that Rwanda like Nigeria and Zimbabwe announced plans to tax online services and digital companies consumed within the country.


Botswana reforms policy on fresh-produce importation



Botswana is keen on extending and expanding restrictions on imports of some fresh produce, in its quest for food self-sufficiency.

According to the agriculture ministry, the import ban on produce, which had infuriated farmers in neighbouring South Africa, and was set to expire at the end of December, would now remain in effect until the end of 2025.

The ministry further stated that by July of next year, the number of prohibited items would likewise double to 32.  As a grace period until July, Botswana’s “farmers will have some time to plant so that local produce can be ready,” the statement stated.

The agricultural sector in the drought-prone nation is comparatively small, making up only 5% of total economic output. Local farmers are being squeezed out by cheaper imports from South Africa. Approximately 80% of the nation’s food was imported from South Africa prior to the initial two-year ban that took effect in January 2022.

Mokgweetsi Masisi, the President of Botswana, stated in a State of the Nation speech last month that the country’s fresh-produce import bill had decreased by 71% as a result of the import ban.

Farmers in South Africa have claimed that the ban breaches the Southern Africa Customs Union agreement, despite Botswana’s claims that it is safeguarding emerging industries.

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Court suspends Kenyan govt’s public assets privatization drive



The Kenyan government’s plan to begin fresh privatisation under a modified law was suspended by the court in a hearing challenging the move by an opposition party on Monday.

Within days of the announcement, the opposition Orange Democratic Movement party filed a lawsuit to challenge the ruling.

Judge Chacha Mwita of the High Court declared that any sale that was scheduled to take place under the amended Privatisation Act 2023 would be halted by the court until February 6.

Kenya last conducted an initial public offering (IPO) to sell a portion of its state-owned business when it purchased 25% of Safaricom, a telecom company. The cabinet approved a list of 26 companies in 2009, which included banks, the Kenya Pipeline Company, and the Kenya Electricity Generating Company. However, as of right now, nothing has been done about this list.

Last month, the Ministry of Finance announced that it would begin the process of offering to sell its ownership stake in eleven companies, including agribusiness companies, textbook publishers, and oil pipelines. The 11 companies are part of the 35 that the government plans to sell, partly to generate cash, given the mounting debt repayments.

Kenya is currently grappling with severe liquidity issues brought on by doubts about its capacity to obtain capital from financial markets before the $2 billion Eurobond matures in June of next year. The suspension is a setback on President William Ruto’s policy drive for New Public Management, which emphasises the concept of “minimum government.”

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