The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has vowed not to rescind its decision to stage a demonstration on February 13 in protest of the imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity consumption.
The TUC last week issued a one-week ultimatum to the government to withdraw the new VAT, threatening to hit the streets in various regions on February 13.
In a letter dated January 1, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, directed the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCO) to implement the VAT, aiming to raise revenue for the COVID-19 recovery program.
The TUC has vehemently opposed the move, citing its detrimental impact on the livelihoods of ordinary Ghanaians, particularly pensioners and low-income earners.
The Ministry of Finance in a statement dated January 30, 2024, disclosed its plans to have an extensive dialogue with Organised Labour and other key stakeholders in the coming weeks on the VAT on electricity.
The stakeholder dialogue, as stated by the Finance Ministry, is aimed at ensuring stakeholder buy-in.
However, during an interview on The Big Issue on Citi TV/Citi FM, hosted by Selorm Adonoo, the Deputy General Secretary of TUC, Joshua Ansah, said they would not honour the government’s invitation for any possible dialogue.
He chastised the government for failing to consult labour unions before introducing the policy, insisting that they would proceed with the protest if the government failed to withdraw the new tax.
Mr Ansah described the imposition of the new VAT as “unfair.”
“Organised labour’s stance on this matter is clear: the directive by the Finance Minister to impose 15% VAT on electricity is unfair, and we think that it must be withdrawn unconditionally. We have said in our statement that if the government fails to withdraw, that is when on February 13, there will be a massive demonstration in all the 16 regions of this country,” Mr Ansah pointed out.
He stressed, “It’s not fair for the government to issue a directive before upon second thought deciding to meet organised labour. The government wouldn’t have called for a dialogue if we hadn’t raised concerns about this. It wants our buy-in, buy-in into what? Something that you have already decided? With this economic hardship? We will not rescind our decision until the VAT imposition is withdrawn. All the 16 regional capitals will express their disapproval through demonstrations. We will not attend the dialogue until the directive is totally withdrawn. We think that the dialogue should have happened before the directive was issued.”
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