21st June 2024

Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah

The previous Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has been accused of granting tax waivers worth millions of dollars to companies without going through the required parliamentary approval.

Former President John Dramani Mahama was believed to have connived with Seth Terkper, former Minister of Finance, together with the former chief executive of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), to perpetrate the alleged illegality against the nation.

According to the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who disclosed this in an interview with the media, the companies involved will soon be investigated by Parliament.

‘Illegal benefits’

The Information Minister said the beneficiary companies, from 2015 to date, have been enjoying free access to the port, without fulfilling any necessary tax obligations.

“John Mahama, his Finance Minister and then GIPC boss sat down in a room with a long list of people who they felt like issuing tax waivers to. They gave them free access to the port. I have a tall list of those people and I even mentioned their names on the floor of Parliament,” he said.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah disclosed that former President John Mahama, on April 29 2015, gave ECOBANK GHC11.5 million worth of tax waiver, which was never brought before Parliament for discussion by then Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper.

“They kept mute about it. They also gave Garden City Mall 45 million dollars; GHACEM Cement had 98 million Ghana cedis; Boston Investment, 39 million cedis.

“In 2016, they gave Wilmer Africa 27 million dollars; Tang Palace hotel was given 34 million dollars; Gyata Cement even benefitted. This is just a part of the list. John Jinapor and GIPC can even testify to this fact,” he said.

“We will consider recalling those waivers to be brought to Parliament for ratification or requesting that the persons who granted them without recourse to Parliament should be invited before the House and possibly held in contempt for usurping the powers of Parliament,” he added.

US$23,983,033 tax waiver on hold

Meanwhile, Parliament last week put on hold the debate on the request to approve a US$23,983,033 tax waiver for Platinum Properties Limited (PPL) for the Pullman Accra Airport City Hotel and Serviced Apartments project.

The project, which is being promoted by PPL, is a special purpose vehicle owned and controlled by Inter-Afrique Holdings Limited and the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund.

The proposed tax waiver covers import duties for the procurement of materials, plant, machinery and equipment for the project.

The scope of the project includes 215-key business hotel and presidential suite, restaurants, two bars, two swimming pools, gym and spa, 11 meeting rooms, and one multipurpose hall, among others.

Request for approval

The finance committee’s report on the request recommended the approval of the tax waiver, explaining that the project is positioned to become Ghana’s largest and most distinguished hotel facility.

The motion for the approval was moved by Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, chairman of the committee. He said the project, to be sited at the Airport City development enclave, will “augment the aviation industry and help attract more high profile business meetings and social visitors into Ghanaian capital.”

He added that the implementation of the project (phase 1) is expected to generate substantial amount of taxes for government over the initial period of operation.

“It is estimated that annual revenues for Pullman Accra Airport City will be in excess of US$550 million over the first ten years of operation. The government will make an estimated Value Added Tax (VAT) of US$90 million and US$26 million in corporate taxes over this period,” he said.

No ‘presidential’ interest

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, seconding the motion, dismissed claims by the Minority that the waiver is being given because President Nana Akufo-Addo has interest in the investment.

“If the President had suo moto given approval of this waiver, as we are being told, there would be no need coming to this House seeking parliamentary approval,” he maintained.

Reacting to speculations that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has offered a tax exemption of $23,983,033.43 to a company called Platinum Properties Limited (PPL), to put up a hotel facility in Accra, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the decision will be laid before Parliament for discussion, as the Constitution demands.

He added that this will be the first time an issue of this sort will be discussed before parliament.

“For the first time, the government will abide by the Constitution and this particular tax waiver will be discussed before parliament.

“The 28 million tax waiver will be discussed. If it is well deserved, we will give it out but if it’s not, we won’t issue it,” he indicated.

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