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Majority in Ghana’s Parliament criticizes NDC for blocking One District One Factory Policy

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The Majority group in Ghana’s Parliament, consisting of New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament and the Independent Member for Fomena, has criticized the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) caucus for obstructing the government’s industrialization agenda through the One District One Factory (IDIF) policy.

In 2021, the Ministry of Finance initiated processes to secure approximately $335 million in tax exemptions for 42 companies under the IDIF initiative, but has been unsuccessful so far.

The Minority NDC has steadfastly opposed these waivers, arguing that granting $335 million in tax exemptions to 42 companies amounts to giving away free money amid the country’s current economic challenges.

During a press conference at Parliament House on Thursday, May 30, 2024, Majority Leader Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin criticized the Minority, describing their stance as hypocritical. He pointed out that the NDC, while in government, granted tax waivers worth millions of dollars to several firms.

Mr. Afenyo-Markin accused his colleague, Dr. Ato Forson, of leading efforts to obstruct the government’s business, thereby denying citizens the economic growth that would result from business investments and expansions.

“The Minority Leader, Dr. Ato Forson, is spearheading this obstruction on behalf of the NDC in Parliament. Their primary aim is to block government initiatives and deprive Ghanaians of the economic growth that would stem from business investments and expansions,” he stated.

Mr. Afenyo-Markin noted that the NDC government granted a tax exemption to Meridian Port Services (MPS) alone, an amount exceeding the total value sought by the NPP government for all 42 firms under the IDIF policy. He highlighted that the previous NDC regime, under President John Dramani Mahama, granted an $832 million tax waiver to MPS, despite the company committing to invest just $1.5 billion into the local economy.

“The most outrageous tax giveaway in Ghana occurred in 2016, when the NDC, led by President John Mahama, granted a tax waiver of $832 million to Meridian Port Services. Initially, the NDC government applied for a tax waiver of $982 million for the port project,” he said.

“And through the vigilance of the minority then, we reduced it to $832 million, saving the government and the people of Ghana $100 million, and requested further work,” Mr. Afenyo-Markin added.

He mentioned that MPS was exempted from paying corporate income tax and dividends to shareholders for ten years. He criticized the NDC for worse dealings during their tenure but now attempting to undermine the current NPP administration by opposing the tax waiver requests.

The Effutu Lawmaker questioned why local firms would be denied support. He recalled how the current Minority Leader, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, then Deputy Finance Minister, justified the need for Parliament to grant waivers to MPS to prevent the company from relocating, and wondered what had changed to warrant the current opposition.

The Majority Leader also claimed that the NDC administration, through the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), designated some companies as strategic investments and granted them tax waivers without parliamentary approval. He listed companies like Dzata Cement, Dream Reality, and Boston Investment among others.

In response to questions about garnering support in the House to pass the tax waivers, the leader said his team believes in building consensus and is confident the right actions will be taken at the appropriate time.

The NPP Majority emphasized that the proposed businesses of all 42 companies, selected from hundreds by the Ministry of Finance after rigorous selection processes, are crucial to the Ghanaian economy.

He called on the Minority to support the government in its efforts to incentivize local businesses and enhance Ghana’s industrialization agenda through the IDIF initiative if they are indeed patriotic citizens.

By Eugene Davis

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