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General News of Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Source: Daily Statesman

Ghc1.8bn For Mahama To Buy Votes Again

-As nation still suffers from 2012 reckless spending

Yesterday, in Parliament, Finance Minister Seth Terkper told Ghanaians the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government would need additional GHC1.8 billion to meet its expenditure for the rest of the year, with barely four months to the December polls.

He claimed in the election year supplementary budget that even though government had originally asked for GHS50,109,851,734 to fund its expenditure, challenges in accruing projected cash from oil revenue, the ongoing power crisis, as well as drop in commodity prices had made it impossible to meet the target.

Views sampled by the Daily Statesman among a section of the people brought to the fore the fear of many Ghanaians that the GHS1.8 billion would eventually end up being channeled through vote-buying schemes by the Mahama government. And, information available to the paper seems to confirm the fears of the people.

Winning the December polls by the NDC would be the first time any political party would have won a third consecutive term. The party is aware that beyond the natural incumbency fatigue, the worsening economic situation, epitomized by increasing youth unemployment, rising cost of living, worsening energy crisis, and a deepening national crisis of hopelessness, all combine to make its electoral efforts Herculean, with victory almost impossible.
President Mahama and his strategists are therefore convinced that without spending excessively to influence voters, they stand no chance of coming close to winning another four-year term.

President Mahama is on record to have personally supervised the worst ever reckless dissipation the nation's resources for vote-buying in the 2012 elections. That obvious criminal spending of over $4 billion of unbudgeted funds eventually left the nation with a record 11.8% budget deficit, with innocent Ghanaians still suffering the negative effects of that nation-wrecking act.
As reported by the Daily Statesman previously, the Mahama government spent over $180 million just to 'buy' the 2012 election. According to top NDC sources, at least $180m (nearly GHC350m) was spent on the 2012 campaign by President Mahama and the NDC from the centre.

A chunk of the money was disbursed in November from the Ministry of Finance for unbudgeted expenditure, including the payments to rlg for distribution of laptops embossed with President Mahama's campaign pictures.

The organisations that were used for this unprecedented vote buying spree included LESDEP, SADA, rlg, NADMO, Zoomlion, as well as some chiefs, with most of disbursed funds laundered through these organisations ending up in the campaign coffers of the NDC.

Truck load of motorbikes, bicycles, outboard motors, sewing machines, rice, cloth, laptops and phones followed NDC campaign vehicles as the ruling party invaded communities in target areas buying votes.

Documents seen by the Daily Statesman suggest that President Mahama intends to make the same mistakes that has gotten Ghanaians getting poorer and poorer and the economy struggling since the 2012 general elections.

The paper has uncovered a scheme that could even make what happened in 2012 pale into insignificance, in view of how NDC intends to spend money to mobilise support for the president who has become very unpopular with the electorate.
President John Mahama has, according to our checks, approved a basic election budget for his party of GHC5 million per each of the 275 constituencies, translating into a total official party budget of GHC1, 375,000,000.
One of the instruments earmarked for the vote-buying scheme is small-loan schemes, like MASLOC, and the Youth Enterprise Scheme. The President has budgeted GHC2-3 million worth of small loans to be distributed per every constituency with the sole purpose of buying votes.
The tricky bit for the Mahama administration is how to package the spending to avoid IMF scrutiny. Ghana is on a strict IMF programme designed to instill fiscal discipline and avoid the cycle of election year overspending.

In a recent interview with the Daily Statesman, Obuasi West MP, Kwaku Kwarteng, said indications were clear that the reckless over-spending of 2012 would be repeated in this election year by President Mahama.

He identified the YES as one entity that would be used extensively for the vote-buying scheme. "I see the GHC100 million set aside for youth employment generation through the Youth Employment Agency as an attempt to siphon money for their campaign as they did with the GYEEDA overspending. I am worried and I wonder why President Mahama and his functionaries can't be mindful of the damage they doing to the economy," he stated.

The MP cautioned Ghanaians to be vigilant in the upcoming election and resist any form of vote buying by President Mahama and the NDC government, cautioning that their woes would be made worse if the government should get another term to mismanage the affairs of the country.