General News of Tuesday, 10 March 2015
Source: The Finder
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament has expressed fears over what it calls the rapid decline of the economy, and has urged Ghanaians to hold government accountable for the mess.
According to the party, the cedi has, within six years of the ruling party’s regime, depreciated by over 227%, a situation the NPP described as alarming and unhealthy.
In a statement dubbed ‘The true message of the present state of the nation,’ the Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, at a press conference in Accra yesterday, said the cedi had depreciated only by 53% over the entire eight-year period of the Kufuor administration.
“Today the exchange rate is GH¢3.6 to US$1. The simple meaning is that in the space of one year the cedi has depreciated by 63.6%,” the NPP said. The Minority Leader pointed out that that the country’s fiscal deficit and current account deficit had all escalated into double digits, noting that “the public debt stock has now risen astronomically from GH¢9.5 billion as at 2008 to GH¢76.1 billion.”
“This figure does not include the undisbursed portion of the CDB loan. It does not include the borrowing ensuing from the IMF negotiations and neither does it include the assistance from the EU, which is conditional upon successful conclusion of the IMF talks,” he added.
The NPP reminded Ghanaians that the debt stock of over GH¢76 billion meant that each Ghanaian owed GH¢3,000, an increase of 36% over a debt burden of GH¢2,200 for every Ghanaian as at last year.
The Minority Leader lamented over the fact that the debt stock of 2014 was four times Ghana’s oil revenue for the same year.
The NPP justified its description of the economy as a sinking one with the assertion that the Minister of Finance would soon present a reviewed budget to Parliament for 2015, noting that “it is not a supplementary budget.”
“It is a reviewed budget, which means that we are throwing aside the 2015 budget approved in 2014, only two months after approval. A budget is a work plan for government, usually for a period of one year and offers predictability to investors, domestic and foreign to plan ahead.”
According to him, casting aside a budget which has been approved only two months back and introducing a new one meant government was incapable of planning for even a year.
“This has serious repercussions on investment and, therefore, the growth of the economy,” the NPP warned.
Referring to what it called discrepancies in statements made by President John Dramani Mahama on the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and figures churned out by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the NPP said “the difference between the figures of GSS and MoF clearly points to the uncoordinated nature of the management of the country’s economy under President John Dramani Mahama.”
Touching on the power situation in the country, the Minority Leader pointed to government’s indebtedness to the Volta River Authority (VRA), which had prevented the latter from importing crude oil to fire thermal plants, thus compelling VRA to overly depend on Akosombo to generate more power.
“Mr President, the fall in the level of the Akosombo reservoir at a critical level is not solely due to low rainfall in the catchment areas but more as a result of the spillage and the over generation by VRA,” he said.