The Ghanaian parliament was turned into a battle ground when MPs exchanged blows following a disagreement on a proposed electronic payment tax.
All hell broke loose when supporters of the tax tried to force a vote. One of the MPs, the minister of youth and sports, sustained injuries after getting a cut on the face during the brawl.
It is alleged that opposition MPs rushed forward to prevent Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei Owusu from leaving his seat to vote. Owusu was chairing the session which was adjourned because of the disorder.
According to the opposition leader, MP Mahama Ayariga, the deputy speaker was circumventing normal procedure in an attempt to force the bill through parliament.
“The house is governed by rules. And so when you make it right for persons to undermine those rules what do you expect the MPs to do? They won’t just sit aside and watch the person undermine the rules,” he said.
Owusu defended himself saying that he was operating within the standing orders of Ghana’s parliament and had the right to vote for the bill under consideration.
“As long as we can change over then that advantage is restored. In my view and I still hold that view strongly that as long as we can change the seat at any time there should not be that disadvantage. Otherwise, no proceedings will go on. Why should I come and preside so that I can’t take any decision, what is the point?” he said.
Ghanaian MPs fight in Parliament during E-Levy voting. pic.twitter.com/tdZXGGQpcW
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The government has been pushing for the new tax saying that it will boost revenue for development.
Generally, the Ghanaians and specifically the opposition have been against the 1.75% tax on electronic transactions, popularly known as e-levy, contained in the 2022 budget which includes mobile-money payments.
The opposition argues that the new tax will mostly affect those of low income and those who are locked out of the formal banking sector.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Artta however said that it was necessary to widen the tax net, arguing that it could raise an extra 6.9bn Ghanaian cedi ($1.15bn; £870m) next year.