General News of Tuesday, 10 March 2015
Source: Graphic Online
The Minority in Parliament has described Ghana as a nation afflicted by distress, despondency, exasperation, frustration and an encircling gloom and called on all Ghanaians to save it from sinking further.
“It is bent and not yet broken. The ship of state is rudderless and it is for all patriotic Ghanaians to salvage the situation for ourselves, our children and our children’s children,” the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said at a press conference in Accra yesterday.
Dubbed: “True message of the present State of the Nation, 2015”, the press conference was to put across what, in the estimation of the Minority, was the true state of Ghana.
It came almost two weeks after the President had presented his State of the Nation Address to Parliament.
State of the economy
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said contrary to the impression given by the President during a recent trip to Germany that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate would grow by five per cent this year, compared with 7.1 per cent in 2014, the 2014 GDP rate, as given by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), was 6.9 per cent.
The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana (BoG), he said, collectively gave a different figure of 4.6 per cent, with a non-oil sector growth of 3.8 per cent.
“The difference between the figures of the GSS and the Ministry of Finance clearly points to the uncoordinated nature of the management of the country’s economy under President John Dramani Mahama,” he said.
He said the 4.6 per cent GDP growth rate had been reviewed further downwards by the Ministry of Finance and the BoG to 4.2 per cent and wondered where the President “conjured” the 7.1 per cent growth rate from.
Again, he said for 2015, the President’s own budget statement projected a GDP growth rate of 3.9 per cent and not five per cent, as he proclaimed at the Berlin forum.
The non-oil sector, he said, was projected to grow at a mere 2.7 per cent in 2015 and added that the projected GDP growth for the non-oil sector represented the worst performance since 1998.
With regard to interest rates, the Minority Leader said the Kufuor government inherited a regime of interest rates that were around 42 per cent. By 2008, the rates had climbed down significantly to 25 per cent.
Today, he said, interest rates hovered around 33 per cent, increasing the cost of doing business in Ghana.
On international reserves, he said the country needed to be told exactly what the situation was.
“The Minster of Finance, in his budget presentation, stated that our gross international reserves had, since August 2014, recovered from 2.2 months of import cover to 3.3 months, but the net international reserves covered less than three weeks. The nation needs to know what the real quantum of our reserves is.
“The reason for this demand is that in Paragraph 74 of the 2014 budget, the Minister of Finance stated that our reserves decreased from $5.32 billion as of December 2012 to $5.2 billion as of September 2013, which provided for 2.9 months of import cover.
“The projection then was that it would go further down subsequently. The Governor of the BoG reported in March 2014 that the reserves decreased to $4.88 billion as of February 2014.
“In the circumstance, when the President, through his Minister of Finance, now states that the stock position of our gross international reserves as of December 2013 was $5.6 billion, there must be a confusion of figures,” he said.
The power situation
The Minority Leader said the President, during the presentation of the State of the Nation Address, in one breath promised to fix the power problem and in another said he would hold the Minister of Power responsible for his inability to fix the problem.
“One hopes the President is not already finding an escape route for himself for non-delivery of his pledge. The buck stops with him,” he said.
He mentioned the various interventions by the President Rawlings regime to fix the power challenges facing the country and noted that the former President had added 580 megawatts to the nation’s power generation.
With regard to President Kufuor, he said the generation capacity that was added and projects commenced totalled 1,452 megawatts.
The Mahama administration, however, had failed to add a single megawatt and had embarked on a “promising spree”, with little or no action, he said.
He accused the Mahama administration of massive corruption and financial malfeasance and alleged that the President’s household, chief executives, ministers and deputy ministers, other appointees and party leadership were corrupt.
“Let the President flash back and remember where they have all come from just six years ago and put his hand on his chest and tell the nation that the several mansions, the luxurious vehicles, the filling stations, the hotels, the hostels, other very material acquisitions both within and without Ghana that they have acquired in six years are not as a result of corrupt practices and the nation will follow him in his self-declared war against malfeasance. Charity, after all, begins at home.
“Let the President investigate how come about 80-85 per cent of all public procurement under his watch, in spite of the enactment of the Public Procurement Act, is by sole sourcing or restrictive tendering. Let the President deal with how come the cost of construction of a six-unit classroom block has since 2008 increased by four-fold.
“Let Mr President cause an investigation into the cost of construction of many of the infrastructural projects that he listed in his address — health facilities, school projects, potable water delivery and many more. The nation ought and seeks to have value for money in all these projects,” he said.