The deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has urged the Minority in Parliament to support the passage of the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-levy) to ensure government has the needed resources to run the affairs of the country, including evacuation of the many Ghanaians stranded in Ukraine.
According to Mr. Afenyo-Markin, the tension between Ukraine and Russia is having an adverse effect on developing countries, Ghana inclusive.
Addressing the House on Thursday, the Deputy Majority Leader noted that evacuating Ghanaians will come at a cost, affecting the limited resources government has generated. He noted that it is imperative for the country to be able to save its nationals as no other country would evacuate them.
He said: “The call to evacuate Ghanaian citizens from Ukraine will come at a cost. No European country will evacuate our citizens for us. America will not do that. There is going to be pressure on the limited resources that we have… Of course, Deputy Minority Leader, you have not spoken into the microphone, but if you are talking about E-levy, this is the more important reason why we even need it.”
“If you were talking about the E-levy, that was the next point I was going to get to. That we should congregate around it and find a way of generating revenue as a country to save the situation because we are not in normal times.”
The Effutu MP made the comments after the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, invoked order 72 of the Standing Orders to raise a matter of urgent public importance.
That is to “call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Interior and Finance to work together to take urgent steps to ensure the safety of Ghanaian students in Ukraine and to work towards the immediate evacuation of Ghanaian students.”
He demanded that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, must make money readily available to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.
“We do know the number of Ghanaian students in Ukraine. Quite a number studying medicine, probably some even sponsored by Members of Parliament. The situation in Ukraine is very worrying. Given the situation of a near hot war in Ukraine and Russia not yielding to the diplomatic manoeuvres of the West, particularly that led by the French President Macron and many others.”
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The Tamale South MP insisted that this must be done to ensure the students and their parents that they are Ghanaian and they deserve the support.
In agreement with the Minority Leader’s submission, Mr. Afenyo-Markin stated that “we must care about our own citizens in Ukraine considering what is happening there.”
According to him, the government is monitoring the situation and the appropriate steps will be taken to ensure the safety of Ghanaians, particularly those studying there.
The Deputy Majority Leader, has, however, urged Members of Parliament to do away with partisan politics to help deal with the situation at hand.
“This is the time for us as a country for a new approach to our politics….This is not the time for partisan politics. This is the time to work together because it is a whole crisis that won’t be limited to the people of Effutu but those at Elembele will go through the same crisis. There is a call on us as patrons to think of new ways.”
“I have my own view on this matter I believe members will agree to. That when somebody coughs, another person sitting his somewhere catches a cold.”
Meanwhile, government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it is gravely concerned about the security and safety of Ghanaians living in Ukraine following reports of tensions and violent clashes.
The Ministry noted that government has in the meantime asked the over 1,000 students and other Ghanaians to seek help at government places of shelter.
This is to ensure their safety temporarily as government “engages the authorities, our relevant diplomatic missions and our honorary consul on further measures.”
Also, Ghanaian students in Ukraine are appealing to government, to as a matter of urgency, consider evacuating them from the Ukraine-Russia region.
One of them, Joseph, a medical student, told JoyNews on Thursday that foreign students in the region are living in fear over the recent developments.
He said they have to rely on their Ukrainian counterparts for information about the happenings.
“Currently I have two bottles of water and four biscuits which I went out this morning to get. When I got to the shop, it was very full and there were only a few bottles of water. I wanted to buy bread but they [people] have bought all the bread from the shop, I was so shocked,” he added whiles speaking on the Super Morning Show.
The tension between Russia and Ukraine appears to stem from an ongoing conflict in the Donbas between separatists, backed by Russia, and Ukrainian troops.
CNBC reports that “Soon after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, pro-Russian separatists proclaimed two republics in the eastern part of the country: the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic — much to the Ukrainian government’s consternation.”
“Since then, there have been ongoing skirmishes and fighting in the region, which is known as the Donbas, between Ukraine’s troops and separatists.”
“Germany and France have tried to broker peace deals between Russia and Ukraine, known as the “Minsk agreements.” And although the fighting in the Donbas has been punctuated by periods of cease-fire, both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of violating the terms of the deals and fighting has resumed.”
International media outlets have reported that Russian troops on Thursday launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine, as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
“Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of an invasion that could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and threaten the post-Cold War balance on the continent.”
President Joe Biden has pledged new sanctions to punish Russia for the aggression.
But Putin has justified it all in a televised address, asserting that the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine.
He claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.