Budget review will not offer respite to economic hardships – Minority insist

The Minority in Parliament has asserted that the mid-year review of the 2022 budget statement presented to Parliament in Accra yesterday does not offer any respite to the economic hardship Ghanaians were going through. 

Presenting the budget review of the budget, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said the Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo-led government acknowledges the economic hardship Ghanaians were going through and was putting in place measures to address them. 

According to Mr Ofori-Atta, the measures would ensure that the fortunes of the economy were turned around in the next two and half years. 

But reacting to the presentation, the Minority said the measures would not address the suffering of the people considering the magnitude of the economic “mess” the regime has created. 

“Mr Speaker, with this review I see no respite. I cannot see any way out for the suffering Ghanaian people who expected that today’s statement, at least, would offer them some respite because of the rising cost of doing business, the rising cost of living and the rising number of people affected by extreme poverty,” caucus leader, Haruna Iddrisu said on the floor. 

The Tamale South lawmaker was shocked at the lack of accounting for the controversial electronic transfer levy which imposes a 1.5 per cent charge on some category of electronic transactions. 

To him, the silence of the minister on the returns of the levy underscores its disappointing performance to the revenue kitty of the country. 

Though the finance minister did not request for extra funds, Haruna Iddrisu said he was seeking to review appropriation for interest payment from GH¢37 billion to GH¢41 billion.

This, he said, could not be done with “a mere statement” by a finance minister adding that extra expenditure like the granting of a 15 per cent cost of living allowance for public sector workers have also not been provided in the original budget presented to the House in November last year. 

On road tolls, Mr Iddrisu said claims by the finance minister to toll new roads is just a ruse to reintroduce road tolls and urged the government to come clean and eat a humble pie for scrapping the revenue measure in the first place. 

To Ghanaians, the Minority Leader said “don’t be disappointed. This is (the government) you opted for and this is what you have.” 

But the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, on his part said the opposition party and its lawmakers have nothing to offer to better the economy of the country. 

The record of the opposition party in managing Ghana’s economy, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said, was available for all to see, a record he said was incomparable to that of the governing party.

Refuting the claim that road tolls were to be reintroduced, the Suame MP said based on the damage done to the toll areas, “it was decided that we should do away with if for the time being. No law that is made is sacrosanct.” 

He revealed that if it was to be reintroduced, it would be done electronically to harness the full benefits for the economy in that space.

The President Akufo-Addo-led government, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said, inherited a “shambolic” economy from the opposition National Democratic Congress formed government in 2017 but has managed to turn things around until the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.

“There is nothing under your sleeve (when it comes to economic management). This is not propaganda. We are talking to facts,” he dared the Minority to a debate on the economy.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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