By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
The country is buzzing with yet another topical issue, albeit being controversial. The Electronic Transaction Levy, popularly called E-Levy has got many people on edge, with a section of the populace wanting to remonstrate their disapproval of the tax.
The Minority in Parliament, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has vowed to kick against the ‘imposition’ of the tax on Ghanaians while the ruling government, New Patriotic Party (NPP) asserts that the levy is necessary for economy recovery.
The citizenry awaits as the arguments, deliberations and proposals are tabled by both sides of the house to determine the outcome and our fate.
Creative Industry Part of Nation Building
When conversations like this ensue, the creative industry is somewhat left out – and the impression is that we don’t matter. In such instances, one can hardly blame persons who hold on to that opinion because the industry does not get involved in such discussions.
We are stuck on just the entertainment – the gossips, the feuds, the shows and awards. Entertainment shows splattered across the country, entertainment journalists and bloggers hardly engage in critical matters, issues that hinge on the economy and fiscal discourse. It looks like a no-go area for the industry.
We forget that the creative industry forms part of the economy is greatly affected by any decision taken by government that affects the living standards of its people.
In the tumultuous era of COVID, one of the heavily affected industries was the creative industry, with many still floundering to recover businesses while many others remain shut down.
Creative Industry Is Business
The reality is that, the creative space is a business space where goods are produced and marketed extensively. The industry is a pillar of the economy and it is also affected by every form of taxation.
The Ghana Revenue has never considered the industry as a non-serious trade – reason it levels and collects all manner of revenue from that space. It has always considered it a business and when given the opportunity, would collect more levies from such a space.
The creative domain is one of the biggest employment creation agencies, helping solve one of government’s biggest challenges – unemployment.
Production, marketing, distribution and commerce, among other essential components of the creative industry aid in the boost and elevation of every economy.
The influence, clout and following commandeered by the creative industry in shaping ideas and projecting a cause cannot be underestimated.
Demystifying the E-Levy
According to the Deputy Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Ejisu, Revenue to be accrued from the 1.75 per cent Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy) will help the economy recover faster – as reported by www.graphic.com.gh.
He said the new levy, which is estimated to accrue GHȼ33.86 billion by 2025, would help the government in its quest to provide and expand road infrastructure, support entrepreneurship drive, provide lasting solutions to youth unemployment, combat cyber security threats and expand digital infrastructure.
According to him, the huge mismatch between revenue generation and infrastructure needs was not sustainable if the country was to accelerate its economic transformation agenda within the shortest possible time.
In that regard, he said the E-Levy was expected to formalize transactions that took place in the “shadow economy” where there was not much visibility.
He explained that the E-Levy would be implemented as a transaction fee for digital transactions done from mobile money or bank account anytime an individual transferred money to someone or made payment to a merchant/service provider.
Dr. Kumah said the government had exempted some transactions such as bank transfers and cheques, a daily free limit of GHȼ100 per day, and transfers between one’s own accounts. He said that the GH₵100 limit for the e-levy is meant to protect the poor and vulnerable in society. The Ministry conducted a survey, the outcome of which informed the decision to exempt transactions up to GH₵100 from the levy.
Dr. Kumah explained that the exemption will enable the many poor people who use mobile money for their transactions, to continue using the service.
“So we noticed that about 30 percent of people who use Momo in Ghana do not do more than GH₵100 a day and that covers the poor category of Momo users. This policy exempted any Momo transaction that is up to GH₵100 and below GH₵100,” he told Joy FM.
Be Part of the Conversation
The creative industry won’t be exempted from the E-Levy and critically, as a pillar of the economy, it sure would be heavily hit by such taxation, yet stakeholders within the industry are aloof, watching on the sidelines as the discussion deepens.
We always watch on for others to speak, get actively involved in the chatter of such essential matters and then take decisions over our heads.
The most influential players of the industry, from musicians to actors to comedians hardly offer any stance or opinions on their respective social media pages when it comes to such matters.
They are either afraid, ignorant or nonchalant about the matter!
Entertainers dread offering commentary on economic-related activities because they fear they would be tagged with political affiliation and such tags come with abuse and a lukewarm appreciation of their works. Some are also ignorant about such matters and do not bother to read or research about them.
Then there’s that grouping of entertainers who do not care at all about such economic issues.
The fact is; you can choose to be ignorant, be standoffish or not get involved in the conversation, you would still be affected!