The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament has accused the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration of reckless and profligate spending in ‘this era of economic crisis.’
With the load shedding exercise and rapid depreciation of the Cedi, according to the Minority, ‘it does not make sense for the Bui Power Authority, headed by Jabesh Amissah-Arthur, brother of Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, to spend $3 million on a Golf park and a recreational centre for staff of the Authority.’
The Minority also accused the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) of spending $63,000 a month as rent for offices at East Legon, near Accra, especially at a time when increases in petroleum prices had been a regular feature.
The NPA has confirmed the allegation of lavishing $63,000 on monthly rent.
The Minority hinted that the NDC government would soon collapse under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding the implementation of austerity measures that would not only bring more hardship to Ghanaians, but also deepen the country’s economic crisis.
The Minority group, which gave the hint at a press conference in Parliament House yesterday, said the IMF had strongly proposed that government lay off public workers and increase taxes again.
In addition, government should completely remove subsidies on utilities and petroleum products to make Ghanaians bear the complete cost of these services – to compound the current hardship.
‘The IMF’s proposals to government include specific programmes to reduce the public workforce; streamlining of subverted agencies with time bound targets for removing them from public payroll through closure or commercialisation; reduction in wage costs through streamlining allowances; non-replacement of retiring or departing public sector employees in overstaffed areas; further prioritisation of capital spending combined with reduction in transfers to statutory funds to lowest permissible level; elimination of transfers to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC); increase or introduction of selective tax rates like VAT on fuel; higher excise tax on specific products; immediate freeze on new tax exemptions; thorough review of tax regime for free zones to reduce tax exemptions and higher tax rate on real estate along with stepped-up registration and valuation efforts,’ the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, who addressed the media, unearthed.
He said ‘without these measures the economy is almost on the brink of collapse with cost of living rising every day, the local currency depreciating every day, ‘dum-sor, dum-sor’ getting worse, workers being laid off in every sector of the economy and unemployment hitting the roof.’
Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei articulated, ‘The impunity in our economic management since 2008, especially in 2012, the ineptitude, the corruption, the thievery, the leakages, the placing of square pegs in round holes and politicisation of our civil and public services, are matters that have combined to send this nation into such an abyss.’
He said with all these economic crises the country is going through, the government continues to throw public funds into the drain on daily basis.
He indicated that the government had given the go-ahead to the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to rent an office accommodation at East Legon paying $63,000 every month while the Bui Dam Authority, which could not even produce electricity at any capacity, was spending public money to construct lavish golf courses and a club house at the cost of $3 million.
‘How can this government which calls itself a ‘social democratic government’ spend a whopping $2.5 million on party supporters to travel to Brazil just to watch World Cup matches on TV in dormitories?’ the Minority Spokesperson queried.
They called on the government to respectfully abandon its plan to contract the $3 billion Chinese Development Bank loan because the processes involved were hurting Ghana economically.
He said so far, the country had paid $54 million as commitment fees while a whopping $100 million would have been paid by the end of this year in charges and fees alone – even though the loan had stalled.
The Minority also asked the government to shelve its plans to issue a further $1 billion Eurobond because it would worsen the nation’s debt servicing problem.
‘A double-digit inflation, double-digit current account deficit, a double-digit fiscal deficit, a double-digit depreciation of the cedi, would certainly lead to a double-digit yield on the bond,’ Dr Akoto Osei observed.
They called on the Trades Union Congress (TUC), civil society organisations and members of the society to stand up and ask for accountability and transparency in government and also for President Mahama to walk his talk of making the economy a home-grown one.
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By Thomas Fosu Jnr
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