MINORITY Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has questioned why the ministry of finance is, on its own, writing to companies and revoking tax exemptions granted by Parliament.
Mr. Iddrisu believes such an action by the ministry was in flagrant violation of the 1992 Constitution.
During the vetting of the Deputy Minister of Finance-designate, Kweku Kwarteng, the minority leader minced no words in chiding the action by the ministry and demanded to know from the deputy minister why his soon-to-be boss, was violating the constitution.
Under Article 174 of the 1992 Constitution, Parliament is clothed with the power to grant tax exemptions to companies based on the economic strategies of the government in power.
According to the law, “(1) No taxation shall be imposed otherwise than by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament, (2) Where an Act, enacted in accordance with clause (1) of this article, confers power on any person or authority to waive or vary tax imposed by that Act, the exercise of the power of waiver or variation, in favour of any person or authority, shall be subject to the power approval of Parliament by resolution, (3) Parliament may by resolution, supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all members of Parliament, exempt the exercise of any power from the provisions of clause (2) of this article.”
In conformity with the law, the minority leader said the legislative arm, had in recent past, given tax exemptions to some companies based on agreed principles and the roles the companies were playing in the economic growth and development of the country.
He argued that by that same power, “it is Parliament that must revoke tax exemptions, insisting the ministry has no power to issue a ministerial fiat to the companies to revoke that which has been granted by Parliament.
He did not however, say which companies have had their tax exemptions revoked by the ministry.
But the deputy finance minister-nominee admitted that Parliament has the power to grant tax exemptions but added that the ministry was attempting to regularise the tax administration in the country by writing to the companies.
Not impressed with his answer, the minority leader quoted the law and demanded to know from the deputy minister if the ministry went about revoking tax exemptions to the companies the right way.
But the Chairman of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, Joe Osei Owusu, came to the defence of the nominee saying that Parliament indeed has the power to grant tax exemptions and waive same but if the ministry has done something illegal, Parliament must go ahead and invite him to appear before the House and answer why he took that decision.
According to him, it was not appropriate to ask a deputy minister-nominee to answer same during vetting.