Feature Article of Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Columnist: The Catalyst
Fifi Kwetey: NPP Admits 2012 Budget Bids Akufo-Addo goodbye
A Deputy Finance & Economic Planning Minister, Mr Fifi Kwetey, has said that the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) description of the 2012 budget as a ‘bye bye budget’ is a subtle admission by the opposition party that the presidential ambition of its flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has effectively been brought to an end by the budget. He said the reality of the budget leaves the NPP with no choice than to say bye bye to the childhood dream of its flagbearer, since he has not a dog’s chance of emerging the winner in the 2012 presidential election.
Mr Fifi Kwetey said the 2012 budget rightly signifies the end of Nana Akufo-Addo’s presidential ambition because of its relevance to the country’s progress and the overall positive impact its implementation will make on the lives of the generality of the people since the memory of the NPP flagbearer as a contender in the 2012 election will be virtually lost on the Ghanaian electorate by the time the 2012 elections are due.
The budget for the 2012 fiscal year presented in Parliament on Wednesday by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, has been described as ‘bye bye budget,’ ‘sakawa budget,’ ‘enko yie budget’ and ‘repetitive budget’ among a plethora of intended derogatory jabs by the opposition NPP.
The Deputy Finance Minister, who spoke to your authoritative, The Catalyst in an exclusive interview on Saturday said, contrary to desperate attempts by the NPP to pooh-pooh the budget, it clearly shows evidence that the Mills-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has made great strides in building a strong economy for the benefit of Ghanaians.
He pointed out that had the NPP government managed the economy prudently and not bequeathed to the NDC government a messy economic situation, much more progress would have been made by the Mills government by now as far as the management of the economy is concerned.
Mr Kwetey said the government has raised money to pay most of the huge domestic debt of GH¢4.3 million left behind by the previous government. “The GH¢3.1 billion, which is about $2 billion, paid for them would have so much boosted the nation’s economy if NPP had not recklessly mismanaged the economy,” he said.
The deputy minister also pointed to the competent manner the government has implemented the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) policy. He said government deserves commendation for its astute navigation through the turbulent waters of the SSSS such that 97 percent migration success has so far been achieved, adding that “...single spine alone would have completely destabilised the economy.”
“Achieving back to back non oil growth of about 8 percent in 2010 and 2011whilst keeping inflation at record levels and stabilising the cedi,” he said.
According to the budget, total non oil revenue and grants for the 2012 fiscal year is estimated at GH¢14,374.5 million, equivalent to 20.6 percent of GDP. This represents an increase of 18.1 percent over the projected outturn for 2011. Inflation which was 18.1 per cent at the end of 2008 now stands at 8.40 per cent in September, 2011. There has been GDP growth of 4.0 per cent in 2009, 7.7 per cent in 2010 and 13.6 per cent in 2011.
Mr Kwetey also said growing the country’s foreign savings is another plus for the government. Dr. Kwabena Duffuor’s 2012 budget statement said Gross International Reserves of US$4.98 billion recorded in October 2011 exceeding 3.0 months of import cover of goods and services compared to reserves of US$2.0 billion at the end of December 2008 which could barely cover 2 months of imports.
The deputy minister also said “The fact that the GH¢506 million we got from oil this year which the NPP claims is our salvation is less than the GH¢ 626 million we paid in 2009 alone to clear their mess must prove how we steered the ship amidst turbulent waters.” The budget states that the total benchmark oil revenue for 2012 is estimated at GH¢1,239.8 million. Out of this, an amount of GH¢877.9 million, equivalent to 1.3 percent of GDP, is estimated as government’s share of the benchmark revenue, whilst GH¢362 million is estimated as GNPC’s share. Total oil and non-oil revenue and grants for the 2012 budget is estimated at GH¢15,614.3 million, equivalent to 22.4 percent of GDP.
Mr. Kwetey is excited about the notable progress the country has made in cocoa production. Hear him: “Of course, the unprecedented one million ton achieved in cocoa production one year ahead of target shows the commitment of NDC not to allow oil to push cocoa and agric into the background because we know that the sector employs huge numbers of our people across so many regions and hence massive rippling effects it has on boosting their incomes and raising our people out of poverty.”
He is certain that the 2012 budget, which is a summation of the performance of the Mills-led NDC government’s impressive performance on the economy in just three years vis-à-vis the mess created by the eight-year rule of the Kufuor-led NPP government, is enough to convince the NPP that it is time to say goodbye to Nana Akufo-Addo’s childhood ambition of becoming president of Ghana because the electorate will retain President Mills in power in the 2012 elections based on his good performance.