General News of Thursday, 3 December 2015
The Kufuor administration spent $4 billion of relief funds from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative on public toilets, the chairman of parliament’s Finance Committee has said.
Mr James Klutse Avedzi made the comment while responding to an assertion by Ghana’s biggest opposition party – the New Patriotic Party – that although the Mahama administration has borrowed more than any government in the history of Ghana, not much can be accounted for it.
Nana Akufo-Addo’s running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at a press conference to critique the 2016 budget, said unlike the current administration, the Kufuor administration achieved a lot with little resources.
He denied earlier comments by President John Mahama that the Kufuor administration was responsible for 41% of Ghana’s $14billion external debt stock, adding that the Kufuor government did much more for Ghana though it borrowed little and had no oil revenues to spend.
“The evidence shows that notwithstanding the massive increase in the debt stock, capital expenditure as a percentage (%) of GDP has actually been on the decline from 9.1% of GDP in 2008 to 4.1% by 2015. Capital expenditure as a percentage of GDP averaged 11% for 2001-2008 (without oil) while that for 2009-2015 has averaged 5.7% (with oil),” he said.
Mr Klutse Avedzi, however, told Ekow Mensah-Shalders on Class91.3fm’s Executive Breakfast Show on Thursday that Dr Bawumia peddled “untruths.”
“He [Dr Bawumia] also said that by the time they left power in 2008, they had left behind $3.8bn as Ghana’s external debt. If that figure is anything to go by, he should come with the truth and say that it is during that same period that they, as a government, enjoyed $4bn HIPC initiative [funds]. But he didn’t come up with that fact,” he said.
According to him, if the $4 billion HIPC initiative funds enjoyed by the Kufuor administration were “added to the $3.8bn, that alone will give you $7.8billion.”
“Now the HIPC initiative, what can they point to Ghanaians that that is what they used the money for? HIPC toilets and [they are] there for everybody to see,” he said.
“$4-billion HIPC initiative is used to build toilets. So, there is an untruth that they have performed very well in terms of contracting loans. You might not borrow enough as we are doing now, because you had $4bn dollars to run the state, to build toilets,” Mr Avedzi added.
The Ketu North legislator also advised Dr Bawumia to rise above petty politicking. “…As somebody, who is an economist, and who wants to be the vice-president of this country, [he] cannot go too low to the level of saying that the government has allowed the SADA guineafowl to run to Burkina Faso, that is something that is too low.”