Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, has dismissed the censure motion brought against him by the Minority caucus in Parliament seeking to remove him from office.
In Accra yesterday, Mr Ofori-Atta told the eight-member Adhoc committee constituted by parliament to probe the seven reasons the Minority felt he should be shown the exit that the claims were baseless and holds no water.
The Minority has been pushing for the removal of the finance minister on grounds of conflict of interest, unconstitutional withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund, illegal payment of oil revenues into offshore accounts, deliberate and dishonest misreporting of economic data to parliament, fiscal recklessness leading to the crash of the Ghana Cedi, incompetence and frightening ineptitude and gross mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy.
But Mr Ofori-Atta said progress than retrogression has been made since he assumed office as minister of finance and that there was the need to find solution to the impasse in parliament and rise above witch-hunting and entrapment.
“When I assumed the position of Minister of Finance, I resolved to serve the people of Ghana with my all. Under my tenure as Minister of Finance, I have overseen some great strides in the development of Ghana and the improvement of the lives of the Ghanaian people.
“As a nation, we are being tested. Our circumstances require a united and concerted response to the crisis. I implore our chiefs, elders and churches to take the mantle and speak a common language.
“Let us all work as one country to support labour negotiations, find a solution to the impasse in parliament and rise above witch-hunting and entrapment. These are not ennobling and progressive for a society seeking transformation,” he said.
Two grounds for the censure – conflict of interest, illegal payment of oil revenues into offshore accounts – which the committee said were constitutional in nature and not within its remits, were subsequently struck out.
Responding to the ground that he unconstitutionally withdrew money from the consolidated fund, Mr Ofori-Atta said that has never been the case.
“I say with both humility and confidence that I have not breached the Constitution in making payments to support the construction of the National Cathedral of Ghana,” he stated.
To him, the proponents of the motion have confused Contingency Fund with the Contingency Vote as he explained that there is a difference between Contingency Fund and Contingency Vote because the Contingency Fund is what is covered under the Constitution, and constitutes money voted by parliament and advances from this must be authorised by the Parliamentary Finance Committee.
“The Contingency Vote, on the other hand, is a line under the ‘Other Government Obligations’ vote which is approved by the Finance Committee and passed as part of the annual Appropriation Acts passed by Parliament” from which the undisclosed amount was sourced.
“I and, for that matter, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) have never misreported data to Parliament as has been alleged,” he said to dismiss ground four and posited that in the most recent IMF Article IV Report from 2021, the methodology utilised in computing the deficit is and has been consistent.
Dismissing the ground that he has been reckless in the management of the fiscal operations of government, Mr Ofori-Atta said “rather, our strenuous efforts to protect the public purse is what has helped this government to have achieved much, much more than any government over a similar period in virtually all sectors.”
Considerable efforts, he said, have been made to lift the economy from the doldrums the current regime met if from a GDP growth of 3.4, inflation of 15.4, monetary policy rate at 25.5 per cent, limited capital expenditure to ministries, departments and agencies, dumsor amongst others and wondered how the regime which achieved all these would be accused of incompetence
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI