Ghana’s Opposition Challenges Key Tax Measure at Top Court

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Opposition lawmakers are trying to block Ghana’s government from implementing a key tax measure by challenging it at the West African nation’s highest court.

The lawmakers, led by Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu from the National Democratic Congress, applied to the Supreme Court for an injunction order earlier this week to prevent the electronic transfer levy from taking effect on May 1. 

They ultimately want the bill enshrining the levy into law to be nullified, saying there weren’t enough lawmakers present in parliament at the time of the vote for it to be valid, court documents show.  

Legislators from the ruling party approved a 1.5% tax on digital transactions, including mobile-money transfers, on March 29 after a walkout by the opposition. Ghana has a hung parliament with the minority occupying about half of the 275 seats in the chamber.

“A minimum of 138 lawmakers are needed to form the legally required quorum to take the decision,” and only 136 lawmakers were present, said Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, an NDC lawmaker who signed the court application.  

Last month’s vote for the so-called e-levy built on other steps the government had taken in response to a selloff of Ghana’s foreign-currency debt triggered by investor concern about the credibility of the nation’s fiscal targets. Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta also announced new spending cuts to ensure the government meets its budget-deficit target of 7.4% of gross domestic product this year from an estimated 12.1% last year.

The Supreme Court hearing on the case starts on May 4. 

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