The growth projections captured in the 2017 budget presented to Parliament last week means that Ghanaians must expect a dip in the growth rate of the country, a former Deputy Finance Minister, Mr. Cassiel Ato Forson, has observed.
According to him, the gains made last year are set to be eroded by the current government by its policy proposals.
Contributing to the debate of the 2017 budget in Parliament yesterday, Mr. Forson said in spite of all the stimulus packages announced in the budget, almost every sector of the Ghanaian economy has been projected to decline by the government itself.
He cited education, agriculture, health, electricity and housing as some of the critical areas whose downward revised growths could worsen the economic plight of the citizenry.
To him, agriculture is expected to decline from 3.6 per cent to 3.5, health from 9.8 per cent to 5.3, education from 7.9 per cent to 6.7, electricity expansion from 6.9 per cent to 6.2, meaning that the trust of the electorate has been betrayed by the Akufo-Addo led government.
It means fewer people will be connected to the national electricity grid as compared to last year, the health sector will be stifled, education infrastructure and services will decline among others, he stressed.
In the area of fiscal consolidation, Mr. Forson said that compensation for workers would decline from 8.4 per cent to 7.9, capital expenditure moving downward from 7.6 per cent to 7.1 which will inflict social hardship on the electorate.
Government’s decision to realign the statutory funds by reducing the amount the funds received meant that the government was not being innovative in finding funding sources for the campaign pledges, he added.
Mr. Forson said slashing taxes while abolishing some gave clear indication that government wasn’t going to meet its revenue target of 16.9 per cent of GDP from 15.2.
He said the budget deficit for the year will balloon beyond the 6.9 estimated in the budget because the government will have to spend beyond its estimate.
Instead of sowing the seed for growth and jobs, Mr. Forson, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Ajumako/Enyan/Esiam constituency in the Central Region, said the budget would act in the opposite direction.
He urged the government to be realistic and desist from populism and face the reality.
But his colleague on the Majority side, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, MP for Ofoase Ayirebi, said it was crucial the implications of the policies were examined instead of looking at them on the surface.
He said the tax reliefs stated in the budget will save the private sector over GH¢1bn which could be channelled into their expansion to create jobs for the teeming unemployed graduates.
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah, said when that tax burden was taken off the private sector and the expanded, Ghana would be the ultimate beneficiary.
The Minority’s postmortem of the budget, Mr. Nkrumah said was problematic, and needed to be revised.
By Julius Yao Petetsi