Members of labour unions in Ghana have announced planned protests for February 13 against the government’s directive to impose a 15% Value-Added Tax on electricity for residential customers above the lifeline threshold.
At a presser, Trades Union Congress’ General Secretary, Dr. Yaw Baah said “the government is taking Ghanaians for granted and so we are going to lead a very massive demonstration in all the 16 regional capitals of Ghana on the 13th of February. We have taken this decision firmly and we have appointed a committee to plan it.”
Their new line of action comes two weeks after they asked the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to withdraw directives given to state power distribution companies, Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCO) to implement the VAT.
The government has been justifying the need for the tax, saying that it is a required measure for its Medium-Term Revenue Strategy and the IMF-Supported post-COVID-19 Programme for Economic Growth.
But Labour experts think the government needs to meet Ghanaians halfway. Austin Gamey of Gamey and Gamey Group says speeding negotiations with unions can offset pressure from labour.
“Petrol has been increased by 3% and the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) is threatening to increase fares by 60%. We have just imposed a tax on electricity and so obviously, people would like you to cushion them,” he told the Daily Graphic.
An executive from the government’s party, Henry Nana Boakye seems also to share the same sentiments with the unions. In an interview earlier today on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo programme, he said the electricity tax, together with a newly introduced emissions tax needs to be scrapped.
“Yes, we understand the need for the government to raise revenue, but we also need to balance it with the sentiments of the people. I think this is not the right time,” he said.