General News of Friday, 24 February 2017
President Nana Akufo-Addo was “fantastic” with his delivery of the State of the Nation Address, former Ningo-Prampram MP ET Mensah has commended.
“It was fantastic,” he told journalists, adding: “This is his maiden address to the nation and it touched on all the salient points: what he inherited and then, like he said, Ghanaians voted for him not to complain,” but to fix the economy.
Nana Akufo-Addo delivered the address on Tuesday to parliament at which he said, among other things that the reality of the state of Ghana’s public finances is “quite stark”.
“Ghana’s debt stock now stands at 74% of GDP, after all the previous denials to the contrary,” Nana Akufo-Addo said, adding: “As of the beginning of 2009, Ghana’s total debt stock was GH¢9.5 billion. By the end of 2016, the debt had ballooned to GH¢122billion.”
He said the interest costs on this debt has also increased and will amount to an estimated GH¢14.1 billion in 2017.
“In fact, 92% of Ghana’s total debt stock was incurred in the last eight years under the previous government,” he said.
Nana Akufo-Addo said total projected expenditure for 2016 was GH¢43.9 billion (26% of GDP) but actual expenditure amounted to GH¢50.3 billion (30.2% of GDP). “It appears, from what we are finding out, that some GH¢7billion of arrears and outstanding payments circumvented public financial management system,” while “the total revenue target for our country was GH¢37.9 billion (22.7% of GDP) but the actual revenue came in at GH¢33.2 billion (19.9% of GDP).”
He said the combination of higher expenditures and lower revenues than projected resulted in a significant increase in the budget deficit for 2016. “Fiscal indiscipline, once again, reared its head in the 2016 election year.”
“In fact, virtually all the targets under the IMF programme, as of December 2016, have been missed. The IMF programme negotiated was ostensibly to restore fiscal discipline, debt sustainability and increase economic growth. It should be recalled that, at the time Ghana entered into the IMF programme to restore fiscal discipline, the fiscal deficit was 10.2% of GDP. It is very clear, therefore, that the Mahama government did not achieve the objectives set out in the programme.”
Following his address, the Minority in parliament accused the president of being selective with figures he used in his speech with the intent to painting the former administration black.
Minority responds to Akufo-Addo’s SONA
Mr Mensah, who is a member of the opposition NDC, however, said the fight over the figures should be left to the MPs to debate in parliament. “Don’t get the issues wrong, the man, what he inherited, he took over from a party and the figures that were made available to him [by the transitional team] were the figures that he put out there. Because he told us, when he started, that the things that he was going to say about the economy, the economy is in a bad shape, that was what he said, that was what he inherited, that was what he found in there, so this is not the time for a debate on what our (NDC’s) figures were and the figures that were given to him.”