Terkper SWEATS Over ‘Dead Goat’ Budget

The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament yesterday described the 2016 budget statement presented by Finance Minister Seth Terkper as a ‘dead goat’ budget.

The Minority said the budget would not address the country’s development needs, as it offered little or no hope that the economic hardship faced by Ghanaians would be ameliorated.

In a two-and-a-half hour presentation, with beads of perspiration, Seth Terkper described the budget as one which would consolidate the progress made so far towards a brighter medium-term development, for which the government would need an estimated GH¢46.4 billion for 2016 expenses.

But the Minority at a press conference later said the government was throwing dust into the eyes of the public and was only good at giving promises and setting unachievable targets.

The Minority said there was nothing to write home about the budget, stressing that Ghana was witnessing a ‘toxic mixture of incompetence and corruption’.

“The government has put Ghana in a state of huge indebtedness; economic growth has slowed down to 3.5% from a high of 8% when NPP was leaving office in 2009. Ghana’s currency is the worst performing currency in Africa, unemployment is at a record high and government is going to lay off more workers by the end of 2016 as part of the IMF conditions.

‘Dumsor’ is the order of the day, businesses are collapsing and utility tariffs are to be increased every three months as part of IMF conditions while petrol prices are to be reviewed every two weeks, also as part of IMF conditions,” the Minority said in response to the budget.

According to the Minority, the current NDC government had benefitted hugely from the country’s resources, receiving $28 billion from gold exports as against $9 billion in the eight years of NPP’s reign; $17 billion in cocoa exports as against $7.4 billion under President Kufuor; $4 billion from total oil exports as against none under Kufuor and on top of it, had borrowed a whopping GH¢90 billion as against GH¢5.2 billion borrowed by Kufuor in eight years; but there was virtually nothing to show for these massive resources made available to the NDC.

Arrears
“In fact the current NDC has had a total of GH¢200 billion  as revenue as against GH¢20 billion for the NPP government, yet the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the District Assembly Common Funds which are statutory funds, are in arrears, while contractors in the country have not been paid.

‘Nurses and trainee nurses have not been paid, national service persons have not been paid, with workers of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) threatening to also go on strike for non-payment of salaries for over 20 months,” said the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, who led the press conference.

“With 10 times more resources, what has the NDC done with all the resources under its control over the last seven years? Where did all the money go?” the Minority queried, stressing that the NDC was using propaganda to hoodwink Ghanaians by arguing that a chunk of that money had been spent on infrastructure.

According to the minority spokesperson, evidence showed that notwithstanding the massive increase in debt stock, capital expenditure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had actually been on the decline from 9.1% of GDP in 2008 to 4.8% in 2014, which meant that contrary to all claims by government that there was a massive increase in infrastructure expenditure projects all over the country, the reality was that expenditure on infrastructure was rather declining.

“The numbers indicate that this government is investing about half of what the NPP government invested in infrastructure even though it had far less resources than what this government has had,” he said.

Dr Akoto Osei explained that the Managing Director of the IMF had publicly acknowledged that most of the government borrowing had been used for consumption and not for investment.

The Minority noted that if all those monies that had been made available to this government had been utilised judiciously, each region would have seen about 1,000km of tarred roads, railway line from Accra to Paga would have easily been constructed and the country would never had found itself in the current power crisis.

The Minority said the current power crisis was self-inflicted because of the government’s gross incompetence and recklessness, since the generation the nation had was more than enough for running the economy.

He stressed that the generating outfits were not getting enough funds to run their machines and that the government was currently indebted to the Electricity Company and Volta River Authority to the tune of $2 billion.

Loans
Touching on the current government’s appetite for loans, he said, ‘From Independence in 1957 to 2008, Ghana’s total debt amounted to GH¢9.5 billion.

‘In the last seven years alone under this NDC government, Ghana’s total debt has increased from GH₵9.5 billion in 2008 to an estimated GH₵99.0 billion at the end of 2015. The government has borrowed some GH₵90 billion in seven years! This is an unprecedented rate of accumulation of the public debt’.

The Finance Minister, in presenting the budget, had predicted a bright future for the country despite the economic setbacks as a result of reduction in prices of gold, cocoa and oil.

He said under this budget, the government would create additional fiscal space for sustainable budget expenditure and enhance efficiency in tax administration, compliance and increase in tax revenue.

He said progress was being made to ensure loans contracted with on-lending agreements by State-Owned Enterprises were recovered.

The minister however failed to mention that monies had been made available for the compilation of a new voters’ register, but said that 2016 being an election year, the government would ensure that the Electoral Commission was timeously resourced to ensure that it conducts the presidential and parliamentary elections in a free and fair manner.

He indicated that the government was rather considering re-visiting the national identification project for all Ghanaians to have national ID cards.

There was a huge uproar from the Minority when the minister in presenting the achievements chalked by the government in the health sector showed a picture of a small building at Salaamkrom in the Nkoranza South District of the Brong Ahafo Region as one of the numerous CHPS compounds the government had provided in the rural communities, with the Minority describing the building as a ‘hen-coop’ achievement.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr


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