Parliament Begins Debate On 2019 Budget

There was heated argument between the Majority and Minority as Parliament begins debate on the 2019 budget statement and economic policy for the 2019 financial year.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, on Thursday presented the 2019 budget highlights to Parliament detailing government programmes and policies for year.

Dr Mark Assibey Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament who set debate rolling, stated that when the NPP took over the administration of government, they were forced to extend the IMF programme started by the previous government, because they have derailed from the programme and missed all targets they agreed with the Fund.

He said after 22 months of the NPP administration all the macroeconomic indicators have improved significantly, which shows a positive outlook for the country.

He said Ghana would be exiting the IMF programme by the end of 2018 and the government determined not to go back to the programmes.

“Mr Speaker as matter of fact, I have news for them, we are exiting the IMF programme ……you sent us to the IMF, see we are getting the country out of the IMF, you should be applauding our effort”.

Dr Assibey Yeboah also stated that the NPP was delivering on its manifesto promise to provide a competent administration for the people.

He said the Bank of Ghana was working hard to clear all the mess in the country’s financial sector to ensure a sound banking system for the country.

Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking member on Finance in his contribution, stated that the NPP Eurobond borrowing was used for “chop, chop” since there were no visible projects shown on what the money was for.

He said he did not see any hope for the 2019 budget statement, since this would also end up like the previous ones without achieving anything.

He raised concerns about the country’s oil revenue, which he said was not going to the right places, saying the Minister of Finance was encouraging members to breach the Petroleum Management Act, Act 815.

“The minority will not be part of this budget, which seeks to breach the Petroleum Management Act815”.

Mr Ato Forson also stated that, as at the end of September 2018, the net borrowing of government, which should have been GHC7.7billion had jumped to GHC9.05 billion, also domestic financing had shot from GHC2.4 to GHC4.1 billion.

He revealed that Ghana’s public debt had increased to GHC170.8 billion from last year’s figure of GHC138.8 billion, saying the NPP government has added GHC32 billion to the country’s debt stock in just 12 months.

“This mounting debt does not show a government which claim to be competent but a substandard one,” he added.

Mr Ato Forson also stated that within four years of the John Mahama’s administration from 2013 to 2016 the amount of oil revenue, which accrued to them was GHC6.56 billion, however from 2017 to 2019 the expected oil revenue that would accrued to the NPP government was GHC12 billion.

He questioned the NPP administration to show to Ghanaians what they had done with all the oil revenues that they had received since they came to power.

“Show us what you have done with all the oil revenues you have received since came to, unfortunately they cannot tell us anything,” he chided.

Mr Ato Forson also stated that from every projection of the government showed that the 2019 budget was “dead on arrival” and has nothing to offer Ghanaians.

“I thought this administration is going to learn from what has happened this year 2018 and make realistic revenue projections but unfortunately the budget introduces no measure to tackle that”.

Mr John Jinapor, Member of Parliament for Yarpei Kosugwu in his contribution, slammed the NPP administration for failing to deliver on their “mouth-watering promises” that they made to Ghanaians.

He said though the House has approved GHC300million for the Zongo Development Fund, the only thing they have done with the money was to build five Astro-turfies.

He said despite the NPP propaganda, the Minister of Finance during the budget presentation could not tell the number of factories built under the One District One Factory (1D1F) policy, adding that Upper East region has been left out of the whole programme.

Mr John Jinapor also stated that the One Village One Dam policy was also in shambles, saying that no dams have been constructed since the NPP came to power two years ago.

He called on the government to withdraw what he described as obnoxious taxes such as the luxury vehicle tax, NHIL flat rate, the GETFund tax and the 30 percent income tax.

“The people of Ghana entrusted power to the NPP based on their “mouth-watering promises”, we were made to believe that the Nana Akufo-Addo has the magic-wound, indeed he promised us in 18 months he would transformed this country, instead of achieving this promises from the NPP, Ghana now is in a state of misery,” he added.

Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister of Information in his contribution slammed the previous NDC administration for leaving behind an economic mess, which the current administration was resolving.

He said currently the country’s macroeconomic stability had been restored to the admiration of all economic watchers.

He said NDC government decelerated the country’s economic growth to 3.7 percent and at least the NPP in its first year brought it up to over eight percent.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah also announced that through the numerous social intervention programmes the government was reducing the hardship among the people.

He said contrary to incessant claims by the NDC that they borrowed to build infrastructure, the country’s national infrastructure was in a deplorable state.

“The roads, railways, bridges and water systems were not built, indeed if they were built why we would be crying for infrastructure now,” he said.
He said in the few instances where attempted to build the deplorable state and the quick breakdown of that infrastructure today shows us the quality of work that was done on that day.

“The Akufo-Addo administration acknowledges that this is task we must fix and fixed it we will,” he added.