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General News of Friday, 29 July 2016


Mahama can’t save Ghana with ‘extra time’ budget – NPP MPs

Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei

The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) Caucus in Parliament says the supplementary budget estimates presented to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Seth Terkper on behalf of President John Mahama cannot save the Ghanaian economy from the challenges it is facing.

Minority Spokesperson on Finance and MP for Old Tafo, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, addressing journalists in Accra on Thursday said the supplementary budget estimates is seeking to cut down cost on all social services like the NHIS, School Feeding, Youth Employment Agency (YEA), free maternal care among others.

The situation, coupled with the IMF condition for Parliament to pass the revised Bank of Ghana Act, will not augur well for the country, stressing that it has the tendency to further derail the gains made by the country.

“The statement of the Minister of Finance only confirmed that this John Mahama led NDC government does not have an appreciation of the reality of the economic challenges faced by most Ghanaians”, he noted.

He added “The record after the eight budgets of the NDC is definitely not one of a “Better Ghana” than the one this government inherited in 2009. Rather, it is a record of a monumental waste of an historic opportunity to transform the economy of Ghana and improve the lives of Ghanaians. The supplementary budget, just like all other NDC budgets since 2009, will end up on big promises and short on delivery”.

On Monday, July 24, 2016, Mr. Terkper walked to Parliament and requested the legislature to approve GH?1,888,203,387 as supplementary estimates for the 2016 financial year.

The House had earlier approved a budget estimate of over GH?50,000,000,000 to be spent on the Ghanaian economy for the 2016 financial year.

Terkper’s request was spurred by recent developments in both domestic and global markets.

He further told Parliament that Ghana’s ailing economy has turnaround with the prospects looking very bright despite the few lingering challenges.

The success, he noted was a result of the country’s “Home Grown” policies which were designed to achieve fiscal consolidation; address short-term vulnerabilities; reduce a high budget deficit that had become harmful to the private sector; as well as stabilize and reverse the rise in public debt.

“Mr. Speaker, we are on course to achieving these goals through management of prudent fiscal, financial, sectoral and monetary policies”, he noted.

For instance, he said fiscal data up to end-December 2015 show that total revenue and grants were higher than the budget targets by 5%.

The overrun in total expenditure including arrears, he added, narrowed to 2.1% above target.

“These performances resulted in a cash budget of 6.3% of GDP, much better than the budget target of 7.3% and 10.2% in 2014. Indeed, at 0.2% of GDP at the end of 2015, the primary budget balance that shows our ability to service loans for development was a surplus for the first time in over a decade. GDP also grew by 3.9% at end-2015, better than the projected 3.5%”, he said.

He added “It is getting better with the economy growing by 4.9% in the first quarter of 2016, compared to 4.5% for the same period in 2015. In spite of unanticipated shortfalls in price and production of crude oil, GDP growth is projected to end the year at 4.1% or better”.

Terkper made these observations when delivering a statement on the review of the budget and economic policy statement of the government and supplementary estimates for the 2016 financial year.

The Finance Minister commenting further told Members that under no circumstances will Ghana become a Highly Indebtedness Poor Country (HIPC) again considering the rate at which the economy is recovering.

But Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei in his address said the country chalked more successes under the NPP government led by John Agyekum Kufuor where there was no crude oil export than the one being presided over by President Mahama.

For instance, he said GDP growth at the time the NPP left office in January 2009 was 9.1% compared to the 3.9% GDP growth rate recorded in 2015 under the NDC government.

That aside, the size of the Ghanaian economy under the NPP government increased from US$5.1million to US28.5million compared to an increase from US$28.5million to a projected US$39.4million in 2016 with oil exports.