General News of Wednesday, 27 February 2002
Mr Moses Asaga, the Minority Spokesman on Finance, on Tuesday said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has an alternative budget that could drive the economy at a rate of 5.5 per cent and above.
"The 4.5 growth rate target is too low. If the NPP can not perform better than these figures then they better throw in the towel." Mr Asaga was contributing to the motion to approve the financial policy of the government for the year ending 31 December 2002.
"The budget can best be described as a "Kwashiokor Budget". It lacks focus, had no new development policies and lacks the ingredients for a strong growth in the country." He said the seemingly macro-economic stability last year was as a result of low crude prices, averagely high cocoa and gold prices and favourable international commodities market.
"Therefore, government should not go to town drumming and dancing. We should not forget too soon that in 1998/98, inflation in Ghana was 9.8 per cent, the cedi depreciated only by 4 per cent, interest rates fell to a low 19 per cent and base rate at 30 per cent."
Mr Asaga said the honeymoon is gone, the days of "na-who cause-am" are gone forever and the government must sit up and fulfil its promises made to Ghanaians. Mr Asaga criticised government for adopting the Highly Indebted poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
"Is it not a shame for us to be clapping and dancing because we have now been officially admitted to the club of poor nation? I expected us to remain sober, sad and rather vow to work hard like the Koreans did in the 1970's."
He said: "Government is now forced to raise more revenue and that is why our fiscal policy is crowded with increased taxes and levies." Mr Asaga said government under HIPC would remove all subsidies on agriculture inputs and utilities.
He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government was mortgaging Ghana's future. "Ghana's economy is now solely dependent on IMF/World Bank donation. We call it 'lalasulala'. The NPP which was averse to IMF/World Bank driven-economy two years ago are now singing praises to the Breton Wood institutions." Mr Asaga commended government for continuing the infrastructure expansion projects initiated by the NDC government.