NDC holds public forum on 2022 budget in Accra

The National Democratic  Congress (NDC) yesterday organised a public forum on the 2022 budget statement and government economic policies which they dubbed “Awudie” to explain their stance on some key issues which has bedeviled  the budget.

 It was organised by the National Communication Bureau of the  NDC  under the theme: “ What the 2022  budget means for you as a Ghanaian,”  and was addressed by Eric Opoku, the Member of Parliament for Asunafo  South, a Ranking Member of Parliamentary  Committee on Food and Agriculture, and Isaac Adongo,  the MP  for  Bolgatanga  Central, a member of the  Finance  Committee of Parliament.

The public forum attracted participants such as students from many tertiary institutions in Accra, professional bodies and a cross-section of the general public.

In his opening remarks,  Asiedu Nketia,  the  General Secretary of the NDC, said the party would revisit the issue of the otherwise passing or rejection of the budget in parliament to know their real stance of the e-levy in the budget.

He said even if the majority group in parliament decided to use their numerical strength to bulldoze its way for the passage of the budget, the Minority would not concur to the passage and would hold the majority accountable in all  the budget deliberations at whatever level.

 Mr Nketsia said that as stakeholders engagement continued, the minority caucus in parliament has ruled off any boycott of parliamentary proceedings  to offer constructive criticisms of the e-levy to ensure proper accountability to Ghanaians.

He said if the government was saying the expenditure in the budget would outrun the revenue generation part,  then the best place to cut cost should be the expenditure of some privileges enjoyed by public officials.

Mr Isaac Adongo said since the government has used propaganda to run the economy, the realities of their economic mismanagement was catching up with them, thus the harsh budget presented.

 He said in the past, governments had engaged stakeholders in the process of presenting the budget, however, this current government  has departed from such practice and was doing otherwise,  as if the budget was meant for them only.

  He said the budget presented for next year and the introduction of the e-levy was meant to address their five years of mismanagement and ineptitude,  adding that economic solution was not an event but a process. Therefore,  the ambitious e-levy should not look like  the panacea of all economic solutions.

Mr Adongo said that since the government usually used the COVID-19  pandemic as the cause of the current economic situation, he would want to place on record that the financial situation of government was  challenging even  before  the emergence of the pandemic.

He said this was because when NDC was leaving office  in 2016, despite the implementation of the single-spine salary  structure , the party left  with  the public wage bill paged  at GhC 14 billion, however, the current  government  has shot the wage bill to GhC 35billionn currently.

Mr Adongo  said  the bill has shot up while there has not been  any  significant rise in the  increment  of public salary,  adding  that until  the government purged  itself of consumption  economy  and create  a lean  and efficient public  sector , the situation would get worse.

 He said  the government  used to tout some of their flagship  programmes  as  the cause of the financial  challenges  but he challenged  that dispensation since less than 10 per cent in the budget was allocated  for those flagship  to thrive.

 Mr Eric Opoku  said out of  the current budget  statement, the government has allocated 12 percent  of  revenue  expected  to undertake  capital projects, thus public  wage  bill and debt  servicing  would take  the rest.

 He said  when the NDC  was leaving office in 2016, the party  left  a debt of about GHC 112.5 billion which was used  for intensive capital  investment  project while  the  current government,  after accounting  for a debt  burden of 220 in five years,  could not point to a single  project  the money has been used for.

Mr Opoku said as at the time NDC was leaving office,  it had  established  a lot of funds to take  care  of any  economic mishap, however , the government  has depleted all the monies  from these funds  with the excuse of COVID pandemic.

 He said whereas the government  continued  to run  double  digit  economic  deficit, pointing to COVID, it peers  in  the West African  region  continued  to create  a single  digit  deficit in their economies , therefore,  the government  economic  positions  were untenable.

BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI

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