The Finance Minister, Seth Terpker, was yesterday hauled before Parliament to explain the delay in the payment of statutory funds like the Common Fund, National Health Insurance Fund, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), Road Fund, among others.
In response, he told the MPs it was as a result of revenue shortfalls, payment of subsidies, reduction in development grants and major falls in the price of traditional commodities like cocoa and gold on the world market.
He said it was not intentional and that the economic difficulties the country was experiencing in the face of all these shortfalls had made it impossible for the statutory funds to be paid.
He admitted that it was wrong for such delays to be experienced and pointed out that it was not the first time in the history of the country that it had happened, indicating that in the 2008/2009 financial year a similar thing happened.
He said the situation was compounded by the Single Spine Salary Structure where the government used GH¢7.2 billion to pay salaries and also additional GH¢1.1 billion to clear salary arrears.
According to him, in view of such occurrences which could not be predicted, a proposal was being sent to Cabinet to ensure that payment of statutory funds would not be made stringent.
He said that the government, in the face of such constraints, was making tremendous efforts to pay those funds.
He noted that out of the outstanding arrears of GH¢820 million, government had so far paid GH¢388 million and was taking steps to clear the rest of the arrears.
When pressed to tell MPs when the rest of the arrears would be paid – since it is statutory and mandatory – the Finance Minister could only say that the government was taking the necessary steps to ensure that the rest of the arrears were paid.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr
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