Minority predicts harsher econs condition

Mr Casiel Ato Baah Forson

Mr Casiel Ato Baah Forson

AHEAD of the presentation of the 2019 Budget Statement and Fiscal Policy for the year ending December 31, the Minority in Parliament has predicted harsher economic conditions for citizens.

 

With the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, set to present the budget in Parliament tomorrow, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has given the indication that the budget, his third since assuming political power, would address the economic concerns of the country.

 

At the swearing in of six ministers and deputies last week, President Akufo-Addo said the budget would “reflect the hope Ghanaians have in the government and the future of the country” and that “there was no reason for the people of Ghana to be poor because God had endowed Ghanaians with everything.”

 

But at a pre-budget roundtable discussion to review the 2018 budget and preview the 2019 edition in Accra yesterday, the Minority said Ghanaians must rather brace themselves up for worse economic indices in the coming year.

 

The Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Casiel Ato Baah Forson, said factors on the ground do not give the slightest clue that there would be economic turn-around in 2019.

 

The forum brought together a cross section of Ghanaians including farmers, importers, civil society organisations, transport owners, market women, among others.

 

Taking a peep into the yet-to-be presented budget, Mr Forson said “the prevailing hardship will persist and may even get worse.”

 

According to the Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam lawmaker, the unemployment situation would worsen, adding that the government would introduce new taxes to pay for “unrealistic campaign promises.”

 

The budget, Ato Forson, a former Deputy Finance Minister said would skew away from growth oriented sectors to goods and services, a situation he said would stagnate the economy.

 

With the country’s debt already at GH¢159.4 billion out of which GH¢50 billion was incurred by the Akufo-Addo-led government, Ato Forson said the debt portfolio of the country was expected to hit GH¢170 billion by the end of 2019.

 

On the intended GH¢50 billion century bond, Ato Forson said the amount was over and above the absorptive capacity of the Ghanaian economy, indicating that the government was bent on taking the facility.

 

Reviewing the 2018 budget, Ato Forson said the year had been a bad one for the government as major policies it rolled out last year have failed to materialise.

 

Some of the “failed policies” of the Akufo-Addo administration for the 2018 fiscal year, Ato Forson said included the One District One Factory, One Village One Dam, One Constituency One Million dollars amongst others.

 

In the view of Ato Forson, the government failed in managing the forex as the cedi continued to depreciate against major trading currencies resulting in fuel price hikes.

 

To him, the government has lost focus in relation to what it promised and what it was delivering as he passed a vote of no confidence in the government two years on.

 

Mrs Helen Mona Quartey, a former Deputy Finance Minister, meanwhile, has said the Akufo-Addo government was eroding the gains of the erstwhile John Mahama-led government.

 

She said “I feel sad when they take pride in the economic gains of their government. But there is a saying that when you plant, it takes time to reap. They are now reaping what we have sown.”

 

The Deputy Minority Leader, James Kkutse Avedzi on his part urged the Finance Minister to take their concerns onboard because it was not too late to do so.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

 

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