General News of Tuesday, 1 August 2017
The Minority in Parliament has described the macro-economic gains of the government captured in the mid-year budget review as cosmetic and artificial.
It accused the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, who presented the mid-year budget to Parliament, as cooking up figures which did not reflect the true state of the country’s economy.
The Minority, led by its leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said the Ghanaian economy was on life support and needed urgent remedial measures to bounce back.
Mr Iddrisu expressed his disappointment at the way government had managed the economy in the first six months of the year.
The Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, for his part, also criticised the government for its inability to meet its revenue targets in the budget.
“The government has failed to achieve its revenue target and this is bad news for the country. The projected tax revenue for the period was GH¢15.7 billion but we ended up with GH¢13.4 billion, non-tax revenue was also projected to be GH¢2.7 billion but we got only GH¢ 2.1 billion and this is clear failure on the part of the government.
“Government has failed to achieve its revenue targets. And now we are cutting down on the budget for goods and services by GH¢ 600 million. What this means is that we are paying people but they don’t have the resources to work with,” he said.
He also accused the government of presenting “cosmetic figures” in Parliament to deceive Ghanaians.
“The numbers that we are seeing here are cosmetic as the government is accumulating arrears and failing to pay contractors,” he noted.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Bolga Central, Mr Isaac Adongo, said the economy was on life support and should be treated with care and attention.
He said the government was deliberately playing propaganda with the economy and would soon be exposed when reality started to dawn on it.
Touching on the government’s ability to align its expenditure to match the revenue shortfalls, Mr Adongo said: “Today, we are being told that a father who fails to raise revenue to feed his family should be praised. The government is supposed to raise revenue and provide services and they have failed at that.”
Don’t be quick to blow horns
The MP for Ketu South, Mr Fifi Kwetey, urged the minister not to be quick in blowing his horns on how the economy had performed in the first half of the year.
“Let me congratulate him and also tell him to hasten slowly. When he reaches the moment where inflation has gone down into single digit, he can come for some boasting. When he reaches a moment where he is able to build the economy of Ghana to at least 14 per cent GDP, he can come for some praises. When he is able to reach a moment when he is able to take treasury bills to below 10 per cent, he can come for some praises, but until then, it is important for the Minister of Finance to hasten slowly because he has not achieved much,” he said
He indicated that the government was staggering in fulfilling its major promises made during the campaign period.
“The major things you promised Ghanaians, nothing has been heard so far. You talk about free SHS policy and as of now you are literally running away from the very thing you spoke about,” he pointed out.
Minister should be applauded
The Majority in Parliament described the mid-year budget as a reflection of the stable and growing economy engineered by the good policies and programmes of the government.
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the downward trend of inflation and interest rates and the stability of the cedi were an indication that the government’s policies were on track.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, said the Minister of Finance should be applauded for staying away from a supplementary budget.
He said it was well within the power of the minister to seek Parliamentary approval to commit additional resources to fund additional expenditure but he decided to spend within his limit and he should be applauded for that.
A Deputy Minister of Finance and MP for Atiwa West, Mrs Abena Osei-Asare, said the government had taken the right initiatives to put the economy back on track.