On Monday night, Parliament became disorderly during a certificate of urgency vote on the government’s planned Electronic Communications Tax (E-Levy) in its 2022 budget.
Following an effort by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu (NPP, Bekwai), who was presiding over proceedings, to abandon his seat temporarily so that he could participate in the headcount vote, MPs from opposite sides of the house were at odds.
Joe Osei Owusu had stated that he would give his position to Andrew Asiamah (Independent, Fomena), the Second Deputy Speaker, while he (Osei Owusu) was out to be counted, and then return to his place.
Members of the Minority side, on the other hand, angrily objected to the procedure, claiming that Joe Osei Owusu could not vote as the presiding speaker.
When he finally tried to carry out his ruling, several members of the minority tried to take his chair and threatened that he would not return to preside over the rest of the proceedings.
As a result of this move, several members of the Majority began to confront their colleagues, with some even throwing punches.
The House was acting on a Finance Committee recommendation to debate the e-levy under a certificate of urgency, despite the fact that it was deeply split.
The 25-member committee voted 13 in favor of the e-levy and 12 against it, with the chairman of the committee casting the deciding vote after the vote was tied at 12 each.
During a voice vote in the plenary, there was no clear indication of which party had won the vote, forcing the vote to be decided by division.
The entire chaos erupted during the headcount to end the procedure.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, who had presided over proceedings since the morning, failed to return to his seat after rising in the afternoon to allow Joe Osei Owusu to take his place.
The house ultimately adjourned around midnight, with the next meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Andrew Asiamah was the one who made the announcement.
The Ghanaian government wants to charge a 1.75 percent tax on all electronic transactions above GH100, including mobile money transfers.
Minority Members of Parliament have pledged to vote against the fee, while mobile money agents have organized a protest and a suspension of services in response to the government’s decision to continue through with implementation.