Government has clarified that calls for the use of the Ghana Heritage Fund should not be interpreted to mean it is desperate for money.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC), General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia is proposing the use of the Ghana Heritage Fund to support the economy.
The Fund was set up by Parliament under the Petroleum Management Revenue Act 2010 to provide an endowment to support development for future generations when petroleum reserves have been depleted.
His proposal was however met with mixed reactions as some believe it is unwise to utilize money set aside for the benefit of the country’s future generations. Others are of the view that the money should be used now to build a better Ghana with adequate infrastructure and a strong economy for the future generation.
Some social and political commentators have interpreted Mr. Nketia’s proposal to mean, government is cash-strapped and at its wits end on how to solve the current economic challenges.
But in a sharp rebuttal on Citi FM’s The Big Issue, Minister of State in-charge of Finance and Allied Institutions, Fiifi Kwetey said: “I don’t know how the information got carried as if what he is advocating has to do with the fact that, government is desperate now and wants to use the money [Heritage Fund] now.”
“I think that should be far from really what the position is,” he insisted. He conceded that although the NDC government strongly pushed for the creation of the Fund in 2011, there is nothing wrong if the same government goes back to Parliament to be granted access to the Fund since “positions are not cast in concrete.”
The law stipulates that government can only have access to the Ghana Heritage Fund, 15 years after its establishment. The Fund is only four years old. The Ketu South Legislator disclosed on The Big Issue that in his personal view, the creation of the Fund “was the most nonsensical thing that can be done. It’s just absolutely nonsense and I’ve maintained that position throughout.”
He continued saying, “it makes no sense for me but that’s exactly what the nation wanted but it was not just an issue of the NDC government…the NDC government simply went along with what the popular sentiment was. But that popular sentiment was uninformed.”
Financial Analyst, Sydney Casely-Hayford in response said, government cannot deny it is desperate for money because certain vital institutions like the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), the GETFund among others, are in dire need of funds to undertake their duties.
He said: “…this is where when Mr. Kwetey says that government is not desperate for cash; I have to ask him a big question. If you are not desperate for cash, how come these institutions are yearning for money?”
Casely-Hayford pointed out that there are visible signs of struggling institutions; some of which have become redundant due to the absence of money in the system and therefore, admonished government to be honest with the state of its finances.
He described as “disingenuous and insulting”, the constant false assurances given by government to the people of Ghana.
“When we are talking about these things and government tries to come and give us the impression that everything is fine, don’t worry about it, I think it’s so disingenuous and insulting.”