A scuffle broke out on the floor of the Ghanaian parliament Monday night as lawmakers debated a proposed tax on electronic transactions that has the house divided for weeks.
The 1.75% e-levy, which would include taxes on mobile money payments, has been fiercely challenged by the opposition since it was first proposed last month and has delayed the passing of the national budget.
Members of parliament rushed to the front of the chamber after Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu suggested the tax be debated and voted upon under a hastened “urgency” procedure. Some threw punches and grappled while others restrained their colleagues.
A vote on whether to proceed with the urgency procedure was postponed to Jan. 18.
“We need to demonstrate to the country that our democracy is growing, and will not suffer some of these unacceptable sins and spectacles we’ve witnessed on the floor,” minority leader Haruna Iddrisu said today.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta argues that the levy would widen the tax net and raise an additional 6.9 billion Ghanaian cedi ($1.15 billion) in 2022.
But his proposal was met with boos and jeers in parliament when it was first announced.
The people opposed to the levy say it would adversely affect lower-income people and those outside the formal banking system who rely heavily rely on mobile money transfers, reducing overall economic activity.