General News of Tuesday, 1 August 2017
A Deputy Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has responded to the reaction by the Minority in Parliament over the mid-year fiscal budget review presented by Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta on Monday.
Former Finance Deputy Minister and Member of Parliament for Ajumako Enyan Essiam, Cassiel Ato Forson has described the budget review as “asem bone”, to wit bad news budget.
Hon. Ken Ofori Atta presented the budget review before the Legislative House.
Portion of his statement indicated that the Akufo-Addo administration “inherited a weak economy characterised by high fiscal deficit, 9.3 per cent of GDP on a cash basis against the then-target of five per cent on cash basis. A primary deficit of 1.4 per cent of GDP against a target surplus of 1.2 per cent, a high debt-to-GDP ratio of 73 per cent of GDP, high inflation of 15.4 per cent, low credit to the private sector, high interest rate, 91 per cent treasury bill rate at 16.4 per cent, weak domestic revenue mobilisation, low external reserves of 2.8 months of import cover, policy reversals including some unconstrained expenditure, seven billion of our standing commitments and un-discharged obligations and weak economic growth of 3.5 per cent – the lowest in 15 years. But Mr Speaker, permit me to reassure this august house that the Akufo-Addo government is not daunted by this statistics that were passed on to us.”
But Mr. Ato Forson believed the budget review has exposed the government.
“From the information that we have heard today, from the document that we have just been given, I rise to say that unfortunately the budget is being revised from ‘Asempa’ budget to ‘Asembone’ budget. I say this because this is bad news for this country. You will notice that non-tax revenues as projected, the programme was that from Q1 to Q2 the outturn will be 2.7 billion, Mr Speaker the out turn is now 2.1 billion, this is a cut. Clearly what this means is that there is a shortfall of almost GHS600million,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with host Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’, Hon. Oppong Nkrumah noted that the figures presented in the budget review were not manufactured but attained from the Ghana Statistical Service and the Central Bank.
To him, if Hon. Ato Forson claims the budget is bad news then he means to discredit the Statistical Service and the Central Bank which have been working hard.
He stated that the NPP government “will not be in power forever” and so cautioned the former Finance Deputy Minister to watch what he says about the budget review because they may one day come back into power and would rely on the same Statistical Service and Central Bank in their budget review.
He warned Mr. Ato Forson and the Minority not to score political points with the budget presentation.
According to him, the economic indicators under the Akufo-Addo government indicate high growth rate in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a vast improvement in the credit to the private sector.
Though appreciating some challenges in the economy, Hon. Oppong Nkrumah was optimistic the government would salvage the economy and deliver on her promises to Ghanaians.