General News of Thursday, 2 March 2017
A former Deputy Finance Minister has disclosed the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) might tap into statutory payments to finance its many campaign promises.
Casiel Ato Forson said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s statement on the economy during the State of the Nation’s Address last week points to how he intends to fund his government’s programmes.
The President has said he needs a fiscal space to implement his policies and has promised to reduce the budget deficit and cut waste in all sectors of public life to achieve that.
“I will not allow this economy to collapse under my watch. We will reduce significantly the fiscal deficit this year,” he said.
The President has promised to make senior high school (SHS) free, build one factory in every district; restore payment of allowances to nursing and teacher trainees; reduce import taxes and scrape the energy levy completely.
These policies among others have described as ambitious by political opponents especially the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta is expected to present government’s first budget which would detail how they intend to fund their many promises and to revive the Ghanaian economy.
But the Member of Parliament for Ajumako Enyan Essiam constituency in the Central Region said he suspects that out of the three items – wages and salaries, debt serving and statutory payment – the President might touch the latter.
“Wages and salaries you can do nothing about them in the medium term because clearly we’ve already negotiated it,” he said.
He was emphatic that he could see the NPP government tapping into the 7.5 percent District Assembly Common Fund.
Currently, the various district assemblies receive 7.5 percent of the Consolidated Fund despite the constitutionally minimum of 5 percent.
Mr Ato Forson also said he could see the 2.5 percent Ghana Infrastructure and Investment Fund as well as the GETfund being used by the government.
Although he said there is nothing wrong for government to realign these items, he is more concerned about what the funds would be used for.
“I will not conclude that it is a bad thing what I will wait is what they are going to do with it,” he said, adding same was done by former Finance Minister Seth Terkper.
According to Mr Ato Forson, it would be wrong for the NPP government to remove resources meant for GETfund into the general resource pool for consumption purposes.
“If you are realigning you must do that towards the objective of the fund [you tapped].”