Parliament to scrutinise gov’t spending

Business News of Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Source: B&FT

Seth Terkper55Mr Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance

The chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, James Avedzie, says the legislature will leave nothing to chance in ensuring that government does not spend outside the approved budget allocations for next year.

President Mahama has stated that government does not intend to overspend during in 2016, especially in an election year.

According to government’s 2016 budget statement and economic policy, the state will spend a little above GH¢43.5billion, which is GH¢5.57billion more than it will spend in 2015.

At the same time, government has projected to rake in a total revenue of GH¢38billion next year, above the GH¢30.5billion in the 2015 revised budget.

“We want to assure the minister that the days when we had budget overruns is something that should not be encouraged, and therefore we will maintain the amount approved by government in this area.”

Speaking at the post-budget debate in Parliament, Mr. Avedzie said: “We want government to look at controlling the payroll by ensuring payroll management is efficient by using a system whereby you can remove all ghost-names. We want to ensure government contains and reduces expenditure so that we do not overrun the budget,” he said.

Mr. Avedzie said government is doing everything possible to ensure that expenditure is within the budget that was approved by Parliament.

He explained that the overall budget deficit on cash basis will have a deficit of 7.3percent of GDP as against a target of 6.5percent.

The Finance Committee chairman also explained that domestic revenue mobilisation is critical and urged government to continue improvements in the revenue effort for areas such as efficiency in tax administration, tax compliance, streamlining IGF allocations, and adopting the ECOWAS common tariff.

While the Majority touted the budget statement as a visionary plan that will put the economy on the path to growth and prosperity, the Minority maintained the fiscal policy is detrimental to the country’s economic prospects for next year and it does not inspire hope for the many struggling Ghanaians.

“The debt as of today is GH?97billion, and if we shared it among all Ghanaians, each would owe GH?3,592” said Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah, a ranking member on Finance.

Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, the member for New Juaben South, said the budget is deficient in bold initiatives to address the high cost of living, graduate unemployment, and persistent energy crisis among other challenges.

“Clearly, the economy is sick,” he opined. “We have had two successive growths of 4.0 last year and 4.1 this year. A growth rate of 4.1 percent is not taking us anywhere. Next door la Cote d’Ivoire, after 11 years of war, has grown its economy by nine percent.”

“Where did we go wrong?” he asked.

Employment Minister Haruna Iddrisu however maintained that: “Yes, we have borrowed as a government, but we borrow to develop the infrastructure of this country to facilitate growth”.

He said government is going to establish an EXIM Bank to support exports because the bane of growth for the Ghanaian private sector is access to and the cost of credit.

“We are committed, as a government, to growing the private sector by ensuring that it has access to cheap credit,” he said.

The post-budget debate is expected to continue on Tuesday, after which it be will deliberated at the committee level and eventually pooled together in a report.