The flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s proposition that he would cancel the electronic transaction levy (e-levy) if he becomes president has sparked controversy. There has been intense public debate about his position in the Akufo-Addo administration and his contribution to the imposition of the levy in the first place.
At a public lecture to present his vision for the country, Dr Bawumia said a government under his leadership would encourage the usage of electronic channels for payments and hence would cancel the 1% tax on electronic transactions. He would also get rid of the emissions levy which came into force a few days before he delivered his lecture.
The controversy over Vice President Bawumia’s contribution to the passage of the e-levy has led some social and political commentators to retrieve and refer to comments the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, made nearly two years ago about the Veep’s position on the tax.
On April 9, 2022, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah granted an interview to Accra-based Citi FM about a public lecture Dr Bawumia had delivered on the state of the economy, where many believed the Veep was silent on the controversial e-levy. The Veep gave the lecture on April 7, a month after the levy had been approved by parliament.
In the Citi FM interview, the Minister of Information suggested that Dr Bawumia was an active participant in the meetings on the e-levy, ensuring that his position on protecting the poor was captured in the law.
However, some key personalities of the NPP’s communication team including Presidential Staffer Dennis Miracles Aboagye and Bawumia’s spokesperson, Gideon Boako, are insisting the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, did not say that.
“The Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has a collective responsibility to the state, but he doesn’t have the ultimate responsibility” – Dennis Miracles on #BawumiaSpeaks
— CITI FM 97.3 (@Citi973) February 8, 2024
The Ministry of Information’s X (Twitter) account has also labelled as “fake” a screengrab from a news platform that said Dr Bawumia was instrumental in drafting the e-levy law.
— Ministry of Information (@moigovgh) February 8, 2024
This has left many in doubt about exactly what Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said was the contribution of Dr Bawumia to the e-levy.
In this report, Fact-Check Ghana visits the exact interview Kojo Oppong Nkrumah granted to Citi FM’s current affairs analysis show, The Big Issue, on April 9 and presents a transcript of exactly what the minister said.
Below is a transcript of excerpts from the conversation between Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and Godfred Akoto Boafo, host of Citi FM’s Big Issue.
Akoto Boafo: Not necessarily so, but considering that the measures that are being taken by the government, the e-levy is perhaps the most significant of them all. It could not be simply worth just a mention on such a platform with such timing.
Oppong Nkrumah: […]I guess the simplest answer to this is that the e-levy is the matter that I think extensively we have as a Government spoken to as across this country and answered every single question on. I can understand why some people will want to hear and do an elaborate sort of remarks on it. But it should not be missed that his presentation was the third in a series of presentations by government dealing with various issues. And we have dealt extensively with the electronic transactions levy travelling from Takoradi to Koforidua to Wa to Ho and to other places engaging with the Ghanaian public, in Parliament. on mass media platforms, explaining the ‘why’ and dealing with the fact that those two principal issues; one, digitization will not be compromised by e-levy has been responded to and it’s been responded to ad nauseam.The second matter of dealing with the poor, the vice president himself was very instrumental and I don’t think I break my cabinet oath when I say this, because I believe it serves a good purpose. He was very instrumental in cabinet meetings and the EMT [Economic Management Team] meetings to ensure that his principled argument of ‘protect the poor’ was upheld and that is why the threshold of a hundred Ghana cedis which accounts for about 40% of momo transactions on daily basis was excluded from this levy. So, in substance the two issues in my view that people will want to hear him speak to have been addressed.
From the transcript above, it is misleading for any media report to suggest that Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said or implied that Bawumia was instrumental in drafting the e-levy law. It is also false for anyone to say that the Vice President did not play any role in the setting up of the E-levy law.
The Minister of Information said Bawumia was instrumental in the cabinet and economic management team meetings on the e-levy to the effect of ensuring his position of protecting the poor was captured in the law. Thus, he played a role in the process of the law coming into force.