The Minority in Parliament has said the 2022 budget statement and economic policy presented by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, does not respond to what they termed the economic quagmire Ghanaians find themselves in.
In their view though Ghanaians were looking for reprieve in the budget, the measures announced by the Finance Minister would rather compound the already “excruciating hardship” of the Ghanaian people.
Presenting the budget statement in Accra yesterday, the Finance Minister announced new tax measures like the Electronic transaction levy, increased all government fees and charges by 15 per and reversed the benchmark values which gave importers 50 per cent rebate on selected imported products.
These, among others, the Minority caucus said would worsen the already precarious economic situation of the Ghanaian effective January 1, 2022.
“We hoped that the terrible state of economy would have compelled government to propose policies that will address concerns of unsustainable debt, hardship, high cost of living, fiscal indiscipline, unemployment and misuse of public resources.
“To our surprise and the people of Ghana’s surprise, however, the Akufo-Addo -Bawumia government has failed to show that they have solution to the problems of the country.
“This budget is not responsive to the most important issues affecting the people of Ghana. The people of Ghana have been left entirely to their fate and have to brace themselves for even more severe hardships,” Minority Spokesperson on Finance and NDC MP for Ejumako/Enyan/Esiam, DrCassielAtoBaahForson, told the media yesterday.
The imminent hardship, he said was evident in government’s estimation to raise GHC25 billion from the new taxes in a single year.
According to DrForson, the reversal of the benchmark values would immediately result in 25-30 per cent increase in essential imported commodities which would make life almost impossible for millions of Ghanaian households.
“These taxes will bring great suffering to Ghanaians who have already been choked with taxes and we will vigorously oppose these killer taxes and ensure that anyone of them that will adversely affect the living condition of Ghanaians is rejected,” he emphasized.
But in a sharp response, the Majority caucus said they have received the 2022 budget with “joy” because “the minister took us through the crisis situation, the interventions made and the promises for the future.”
Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, addressing the media said though the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had a toll on the economy, no public sector worker was laid off unlike in other jurisdictions.
He explained that the electronic levy is intended to achieve two major things; to make funds available for our contractors to be paid regularly and to support the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Programme.
“With this programme, every Ghanaian youth will have the opportunity to get support so that those at that level of the informal sector can unearth their potential and make sure that the little that they can explore there is that support to do it.
“Government has demonstrated competence in its ability to manage the situation at hand. In the midst of this COVID-19, government had not given up. Our friends in opposition were expecting a doomsday budget but instead, this budget has given us hope,” he stated.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI