One controversial issue, one political party but a potpourri of divergent views which encapsulates the divisive nature of the policy. The 10% withholding tax imposed by the government on sports betting has clashed heads within the National Democratic Congress with some members breaking ranks with the party.
Whiles the party’s official position espoused by its youth organizer, George Opare Addo, represents an absolute rejection of what they believe to be an obnoxious tax policy, elements within the party, particularly the members of parliament, seem to have a different stance.
Even among those who oppose the tax policy, there is a split on the grounds for their objection. There is the branch that believes sports betting is promoting idleness and the crave for quick money among the youth hence the need to ban it. There is also another branch that have questions about the timing and mode of collecting the tax.
NDC’s official position
Per the content of a statement issued on the letterhead of the party and signed by George Opare Addo, the NDC opposed the tax and are willing to take to the streets to drum home their opposition to the tax.
“Our determination to protect the funds Young People secure through betting is unyielding. Through agitations, protests, advocacy, and civic engagements, we will ensure our voices are heard and demand that this CORRUPT Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government rescind its decision.”
The statement added, “We INTEND to do the following; Picket at the Ministry of Finance and occupy government offices across the country. Start and scale up nationwide conventional and unconventional lawful agitations as a measure of the resistance. Instigate young people to confront officials of this government and demand AN END to the CORRUPTION and Insensitivity of the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia-failed brigade, and Occupy Parliament and other government agencies.”
The flagbearer of the party, John Dramani Mahama, did not reject the tax on grounds that betting should not be taxed. He is against it on the grounds that the government has imposed too much tax on Ghanaians and that instead of taxing betting, the government should create jobs that will wean the youth off betting.
Speaking to the people, the flagbearer of the NDC said, “You have taken so much tax to the extent that you are taxing lotto. People who bet will have 10 per cent imposed. I have not endorsed bet, but Ghanaians are suffering and calling on us to rescue them,” he said.
The National Communication Officer of the NDC declared his opposition to the controversial issue in reaction to a viral video that purports him outlining how the NDC would have introduced a similar tax had they won the 2020 elections.
Sammy Gyamfi held that the government was being insensitive with its decision to tax sports betting and that it should focus on creating jobs for the people.
“Taxing bet winnings under the current excruciating economic conditions Ghanaians are facing, particularly, the high rate of inflation of 43.1% and the highest unemployment rate among others, is insensitive and totally unacceptable.
“Government should be innovative in its bid to increase tax revenue and stop this lazy approach to taxation. If the government is minded to raise tax revenue from betting, its focus should be on taxing multinational/foreign bet companies as it pertains in the UK and other jurisdictions and not poor Ghanaian youths who have been compelled by the harsh economic conditions in the country to seek refuge in sports betting for their very survival,” he said.
Cassiel Ato Forson
The Minority Leader abhors betting completely as he believes it makes the Ghanaian youth ‘lazy’. Ato Forson does not want the government to ban betting, he wants it scrapped.
“Ghana today, we are complaining that this gambling is destroying our youth. I have read a number of articles on this. I would have thought the government will come out with a policy to restrict gambling and to even ban it,” he said on Joy News.
‘Haram’ is the word he chose to describe sports betting as it is against his religious dogmas. The former minority chief whip has declared support for the tax on the premise the earnings must be taxed to support development.
Speaking in an interview on Angel FM, Mubarak Muntaka said, “Betting is haram and taxing is a way to develop the country. Anyone who earns income from working deserves to pay tax, so the question is don’t they get profit from betting?”
He added, “If it was their capital that is being taxed that will be the problem but it is rather the earnings that are being taxed. I get taxed for the income I earn from working, so why don’t they want to pay tax?”
Gabriella Tetteh, the Member of Parliament for Awutu Awutu Senya West Constituency, sees nothing wrong with the policy as she believes the proceeds will be used to fund various government projects.
“I’m not against this sports betting. If you’ve gone to put GH₵15 on betting and you’ve got GH₵5000 and government says come and pay 10% tax so that we can fix the gutter in front of the betting company, what’s wrong? They will use the money to pay salaries and do all kinds of things. So for me charging 10% is not out of place,” she noted.