FULL STATEMENT: NPP Response To The 2015 Budget Statement


RESPONSE OF THE MINORITY NPP TO THE
2015 BUDGET
STATEMENT AND ECONOMIC POLICY OF THE
GOVERNMENT
AND CURRENT EVENTS – JANUARY 8, 2015
Fellow Ghanaians, on Wednesday, November
19, 2014 His Excellency John Dramani
Mahama, in line with article 179 of the 1992
constitution, caused to be laid in Parliament
the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of
the Government of Ghana for the 2015
financial year. The Minister for Finance Mr.
Seth E. Terkper performed the act on behalf of
the President.
Countrymen and women, the theme for the
2015 Budget Statement and Economic Policy
is “Transformational Agenda: Securing the
Bright medium Term Prospects of the
Economy”. The word “secure” means “to be
free from danger, trouble, worry or
uncertainty”. That is according to the
Chambers 21st Century Dictionary. This theme
that the President chose for the budget derives
from the President’s attempt to buttress his
own assertion in his 2014 State of the Nation
Address that “our economic fundamentals
remain sound and the mid-term prospects are
bright”.
The President emphasized his bold declaration
with statistics on economic growth. If one
were to assume rather erroneously, as the
President did, that economic growth rate alone
make up economic fundamentals, then it
becomes relevant to analyse the facts to
enable one to properly judge the President’s
descriptions of the state of our economy which
this budget statement borrows a leaf from.
ECONOMIC FUNDAMENTALS
1. GDP GROWTH INDEX
The GDP growth rate which was inherited by
President Kufuor, i.e. in 2000, was 3.7%. In
2001 the GDP grew at 4.2%; in 2002 it grew
at 4.5% rising to 5.2% in 2003 and to 5.6% in
2004. It rose to 5.9% in 2005; 6.4% in 2006;
6.3% in 2007 and to 7.3% in 2008 which was
later reviewed to 8.4% after the rebasing of
the economy. This is steady growth which
occurred without the benefit of crude oil
exports. This is how a really sound economic
growth aggregate looks like.
Now compare with the rather convulsive
growth rates achieved under the Mills-
Mahama administration. In 2009 GDP growth
rate swung down to 4.0%; in 2010 it grew at
8.0% and upped to 14.4% in 2011 when, for
the first, time oil output was added to the
GDP. It is important to underscore that for
2011 the non-oil sector registered a 7.8%
growth. The provisional GDP growth for 2011
was 13.6% (see pg 4 of the 2011 budget).
That was later reviewed to 14.4%. The 2015
budget document indicates that GDP growth
for 2011 was 15%. The basis for these
multiple reviews must be questioned (ref to Pg
158 of the 2015 budget).
We were told the GDP (with oil) grew at 7.6%
in 2013. The figure was later reviewed
downwards to 5.8% with the non-oil sector
registering 4.1%. In the 2015 budget the GDP
growth rate of 2013 has been revised again to
7.2%. The 2014 growth rate is 6.9% (ref. page
11 of the 2015 budget). This figure is
according to the Ghana Statistical Service.
Ironically, the Ministry of Finance itself has
projected the 2014 GDP growth to be 4.6%.
The differences between these estimates of
GSS and MoFEC shows the uncoordinated
nature of the management of the country’s
economy under President John Mahama.
Notwithstanding, it is important to stress that
all these rebased figures since 2011 have oil
components. What is crystal clear is that the
non-oil sector of the economy has never
managed to grow at 8.4% since 2009 under
the Mills-Mahama administration inspite of
the pontifical high mass that they have every
year organized to celebrate what they deem as
“bright economic prospects”.
2. OTHER ECONOMIC INDICATORS
Ladies and gentlemen, let us consider the
other economic indicators: Exchange Rate:
The cedi depreciated by 17.6% in the first
quarter alone in 2014. As at the end of August
2014 the cedi had depreciated by over 75%
since December 2013. As we speak now the
cedi has made some recovery from ¢3.85 to $
1 to ¢3.30 and that represents a depreciation
of over 50% from the December 2013 level
even though we are told that officially it is
about 31%. The Bank of Ghana may have to
explain to us what the basis of their
calculation is. For in December 2013 the
exchange rate was GH¢2.20 to US$1 and the
2014 budget projected that the cedi will get to
GH¢2.35 to US$1 in December 2014. Today, it
is GH¢3.30 to US$1.
In the 8-year administration under President
Kufuor, the cedi moved from GH¢0.72 to US$
1.0 to GH¢1.1 to US$1. Thus the cedi
depreciated by 53%. Six years into the NDC
administration the cedi has depreciated by
200.0% and we are still counting.
Interest rates now hover around 30%. Kufuor
brought it down to 25% from the 42% that it
was in December 2000. Our gross international
reserves, we are told, have since August 2014
recovered from 2.2 months of import cover to
3.3 months but the net international reserves
covers less than three weeks. But again, there
are questions to ask: what is the quantum of
our international reserves? In Paragraph 74 of
the 2014 Budget the Minister of Finance
stated that it decreased from $5.35billion as
at December 2012 to $5.2billion as at
September 2013 which provided for 2.9months
of import cover. The projection then was that
it would go further down. Indeed, the Governor
of the Bank of Ghana reported in March 2014
that the reserves had decreased further to $
4.88billion as at February 2014.
Clearly, therefore when the Minister of Finance
now states that the stock position of our
gross international reserve as at December
2013 was $5.6billion (par 62 of 2015 budget)
it must be taken with a pinch of salt. The
Minister and his Governor of the Bank of
Ghana must be truthful to Ghanaians with
figures. Our trade deficit was US$1.3billion.
The country’s fiscal deficit and current
account deficit have all escalated since 2008.
The public debt stock is over GH¢70billion
from GH¢9.5billion in December 2008.
Even at GH¢70billion it means each
Ghanaian, including the child delivered as I
speak now, owes GH¢2,800.ØØ. Last year at
this time the burden for every Ghanaian was
GH¢2,000. One year on, the debt per capita
has increased by 40%, no thanks to “y1ntie
obi ara” government.
Fellow Ghanaians, the 2008 debt stock of GH
¢9.5billion represented 33% of GDP. Today, 6
years into the Mills-Mahama administration
the GH¢70billion debt stock is almost 7½
times or indeed 636% increase in the debt
stock. The GH¢70billion figure means our debt
stock has risen to 60.8% of GDP as at
September 2014.
3. INFLATION
Inflation, meanwhile, has risen to 17%. The
NDC propagandists have their tails in between
their legs. There is no more talk about single
digit.
The country is over borrowing and
astronomically increasing our debt pile up
which has crossed the 60% threshold and that
should be extremely worrying as it shall,
before long, plunge us into the league of
countries with high risk of debt distress.
These represent the gory circumstances of our
economic fundamentals and if these in the
eyes of President Mahama, represent bright
medium-term prospects of the economy which
must be secured, then we need God Almighty
to rescue us.
4. WAMZ COUNTRIES
Countrymen and women, the 2013 economic
growth in countries in the West African
Monetary Zone (WAMZ) most of which are
non-oil producing averaged 6.7%. The
countries in that league are The Gambia,
Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and
Nigeria. In the third-time revision of the GDP
growth rate for 2013 Ghana’s non oil sector
grew at 5.8% or 6.5%? (ref paragraph 43 of
2014 Budget and pg 158 of 2015 Budget).
Either of the figure was less than the average
growth in the sub-region. In 2013 Ghana
placed last in the WAMZ league as it was the
only country to have met only 3 out of the 10
primary and secondary criteria as at
September, 2013.
Indeed, by December 2013 the country had
slipped also on “exchange rate stability, “real
interest rate” and the “Central Bank (BoG)
financing of the country’s deficit for 2013
must be less than 10% of the previous year’s
tax revenue”. Hence at the close of 2013 the
country met none of the 10 criteria. Ghana’s
abysmal record of fiscal year 2013 was the
worst performance by Ghana in 20 years.
Accordingly, the N.P.P in our “True State of
the Nation Address” took the NDC government
to task on this. For 2014 the provisional GDP
growth rate for the WAMZ countries in the
sub-region is over 6%.
Non-oil producing countries!!
For the first time in over, 21 years the Minister
for Finance refused to present the table of
performance of the country in the WAMZ
league in the 2015 Budget document. The
reason is simple. The picture will represent a
bitter truth to government and the country and
hence, for them, it is better not to show it at
all. Truth is like cork and a responsible
government which purports to be committed
to transparency, probity and accountability
must not hide anything from the citizens. One
cardinal principle of good budgeting is
transparency.
All relevant information for sound budgeting
should be available in an accessible format.
Budget information must be accurate, reliable
and comprehensive. What is the government
afraid of? Let the people know the truth. The
truth is that for the second year running
Ghana could not achieve even one of the 10
convergence criteria.
BACKGROUND AND EXPECTATIONS ON THE
2015 BUDGET STATEMENT:
Fellow Ghanaians, it is abundantly clear from
the preceding paragraphs that the 2015
Budget Statement was presented against the
background of weak and deteriorating
economic fundamentals, including:
• Declining Real GDP Growth
• Increasing Inflation and cost of living
• Double digit fiscal deficits for two years in a
row,
• Large and increasing central bank financing
of government
• Double digit current account deficits for two
years in a row,
• Massive increase in the public debt stock,
• Net international reserves at a precarious
level
• Government unable to meet its statutory
obligations
• Declining consumer and investor confidence
• Exchange Rate Depreciation
• Rising Corruption
• Rising Cost of Doing Business – taxes, lack
of access to credit, high utility tariffs,
Incessant Power outages –
“Adumdumadumdum”, high interest rates, etc.
• Very High cost of petroleum products
• Rising Youth Unemployment
• IMF bailout talks
The expectation of Ghanaians was therefore of
a budget that would set out to address these
issues and alleviate their suffering. However,
Ghanaians have been terribly disappointed.
The 2015 budget provided no relief to the
suffering of Ghanaians after six years of NDC
government. Indeed, the 2015 budget rather
actually increased the suffering of Ghanaians
by implementing some rather harsh tax
measures and failing to address the
fundamental issues of concern.
After six years in office, Ghanaians are now
being asked to pay dearly for the economic
mismanagement and corruption of this NDC
government which has resulted in economic
decline, high debt levels taking Ghana again
towards debt unsustainability, rising levels of
unemployment, rising cost of living, rising cost
of doing business, depreciating currency, rising
interest rates and an inability to meet
statutory payments including pensions.
In a bid to raise revenue to cover the mess
they have created, the NDC government has
resorted to taxing everything in sight. The
budget has demonstrated very little
appreciation of the problems Ghanaian
workers and businesses are going through at
the moment. Ghanaians would like to know
when the “dums4” will be over for example.
Now to some of the specifics:
The Projected Sharp Decline In Growth In 2015
Is Puzzling Given The Estimated Growth
Performance In 2014”
The 2015 budget shows an economy in
decline. After six years in government, during
which the NDC claimed “unprecedented
economic growth” in 2011, the harsh truth is
that real GDP growth is in decline. Real GDP
growth has declined from 15% in 2011 (with
the onset of oil production) to a projected
3.9% in 2015 (including oil). The budget is
projecting non-oil growth of 2.7% in 2015.
These facts are as revealing as they are
disturbing.
The government is claiming that the economy
is recovering. If indeed the economy is
recovering as indicated by the government,
and we have “turned the curve”, what will be
explaining the further decline in growth in a
year that claims to be focused on sealing up
the bright prospects of the economy? What
sort of recovery sees real GDP growth decline
from a purported 6.9% in 2014 to 3.9% in
2015?
The growth rate in 2015 would be just about
what it was in the year 2000 and less than
one-half the rate of the 8.4% achieved in 2008
without oil!. Non-oil growth in 2015 will be
below the growth rates attained in 2000! The
decline in real GDP growth is reflected in all
the sectors, (Agriculture, Industry and
Services). In the midst of this deep decline in
economic activity we wonder what scope
exists for the Minister for Finance to rake in
revenues to support infrastructure
development and meet Government’s statutory
obligations.
Ladies and gentlemen, something is not quite
right with the real GDP numbers. They lack
credibility. How can an economy which went
through so much turmoil in 2014, with a
colossal 75% depreciation or even if we take
the official figure, 69% depreciation of the
currency and massive load shedding register
real GDP growth of 6.9% only to decline
sharply to 3.9% when the government claims
the economy is transforming or recovering. Is
the recovery in reverse gear? Our view is that
the 6.9% real GDP growth reported by the
Ghana Statistical Service needs to be re-
examined.
Otherwise, the government should explain the
reason for this sharp decline in real GDP
growth in 2015. This is important because if
the real GDP numbers for 2014 are overstated,
it would have implications for the 2015
projections and policies.
This notwithstanding, the fact remains that
the economy that was inherited by the NDC
government in 2009 was growing at 8.4%
without oil. Having become an oil producer,
the government has superintended over a
precipitous decline in real GDP growth from
the supposed 15% or 14% (depending on
which lense one uses) in 2011 to a projected
3.9% in 2015. Let us put this into perspective
— the economy has lost steam equivalent to
11% of GDP since 2011 suggesting that for a
$50.0 billion dollar economy, almost $5.0
billion dollars worth of economic activity has
disappeared, and this is worrying. Slow growth
means higher unemployment, higher prices
and declining revenues. In this respect, the
NDC administration has woefully failed
Ghanaians and one is deeply worried about
the depth to which the economy is sinking.
GHANA’S DEBT SUSTAINABILITY IS IN
QUESTION
The 2015 budget revealed that at the same
time that Ghana’s economic growth has been
in sharp decline, Ghana’s Debt/GDP ratio has
sharply risen to 60.8% of GDP as at September
2014. Ghana’s debt stock has crossed the
60% of GDP level that developing countries
with limited access to capital flows should
worry about in terms of debt sustainability.
As of 2008, Ghana’s total public debt stood at
GH¢9.5 billion (33% of GDP). In the last six
years however, the stock of public debt has
risen dramatically to GH¢70 billion (60.8% of
GDP) at September 2014. This is an increase
in the stock of debt by GH¢60.5billion or the
equivalent of some $27 billion using the
average exchange rate for 2009-2014 or $
17.5 billion at current exchange rates . This
also represents an increase in the stock of
debt by 636% over a six year period (i.e. an
average increase in the stock of debt by
106.14% a year). This is a frightening rate of
accumulation of debt by any standard or
measure. On this track, Ghana is clearly on
the way back to the unsustainable debt levels
that pushed us to HIPC.
This is a worrying development because
Ghana received HIPC relief just 10 years ago
after a similar debt binge by the previous NDC
Government. If the current borrowing binge
continues, it will only be a matter of time
before the international rating agencies will
classify Ghana as a country with high risk of
debt distress. The consequences of this
classification would compromise Ghana’s
ability to raise further financing from the
international capital market and, worse still,
disable the country from servicing and paying
our debts.
The accumulation of debt by this NDC
government over the last six years has quite
frankly been reckless. The interest payments
on this debt in 2014 alone is four times
Ghana’s oil revenue in 2014! In 2015, Interest
payments alone on the debt would amount to
GHC9.5 billion. This figure is equivalent to the
total debt stock of GH¢9.5billion in 2008 at
the end of President Kufuor’s administration
for which debt stock both President Mills and
John Mahama lampooned the NPP
government. This, indeed, is reality check.
The increase in interest payments by 4.3% of
GDP between 2008 and 2015 (i.e. from 2.8%
in 2008 to 7.1% in 2015) has taken away
critical fiscal space that was available to
government. In the 2014 budget, the entire
allocations to the Ministry of Roads and
Highways (GH¢779 million), Trade and
Industry (GH¢256.5 million), Ministry of
Fisheries (GH¢279 million), Ministry of Food
and Agriculture (GH¢128 million), Ministry of
Water Resources and Housing (GH¢531
million) and Ministry of Transport (GH¢89
million) amounted to a total of (GH¢2062
million). Interest payments in 2014 is more
than three times what was allocated to these
six key ministries combined! The story is no
different for 2015.
Given the precarious nature of Ghana’s debt
situation, one would have expected some bold
measures to fundamentally reduce the
increasing debt overhang which, if not dealt
with would push Ghana into the high debt/low
growth trap. The budget basically dodged the
issue.
WHAT HAS THE BORROWED MONEY BEEN
USED FOR?
As stated earlier the NDC government has
borrowed an amount equivalent, at the time of
borrowing, to some $27 billion over the last
six years. This is besides oil and tax revenue.
No government in Ghana’s history has been
so lucky as to have had access to this volume
of resources for development. What is
shocking about this borrowing-spree is that it
has happened at the same time as capital
expenditure as a percentage of GDP has
unbelievably declined.
In his media encounter to commemorate the
second year of his coronation President
Mahama said if Ghanaians want to know what
development projects and programmes his
government has committed the resources that
have come the way of his government to, they
should relate to parliament. Well, the evidence
is that 94% of the increase in government
spending has been for recurrent expenditure!
The increase in government debt over the past
five years is an amount that could have built
at least 15,000 km of tarred roads for
example. It is an amount that could have
solved Ghana’s energy, water, and sanitation
problems.
However, the increase in oil revenues
notwithstanding, capital expenditure as a
percentage of GDP has actually been on the
decline from 7.1% of GDP in 2009 to 5.2% by
2015. It is in fact a travesty that Ghana before
the discovery of oil was spending a higher
proportion of its income on infrastructure
investment than after the discovery of oil.
In the 2015 budget the Minister of Finance
mentioned a number of star projects that have
been financed by the borrowing. When the
Minority leader started listing these projects in
his contribution to the budget debate the
chorus from the NDC Parliamentarians that
greeted him was “investment”, “investment”.
What was meant by the chorus was that the
monies had been used for investment.
What was meant by the chorus was that the
monies had been used for investment. The
signature projects include:
PROJECT COST $ MILLION
i.Ghana National Gas Processing Plant to 850
help solve the energy crisis,
ii. Refurbishment and Expansion of the Ridge
Hospital 306
iii University of Ghana Teaching Hospital 217
iv. Expansion of the Kpong Water Pumping
Station 273
v. Kwame Nkrumah Interchange 95
vi. Sofoline Interchange in Kumasi 52
vii. Tetteh-Quarshie – Madina road project
38.7
viii. Achimota-Ofankor road project 46
ix. Construction of Affordable Housing Units
by OAS Construction 200
x. Kumasi Central Market 172.5
xi. Kasoa Interchange 172
xii. 200 Buses for the Metro Mass Transit, and
an additional 40
xiii. 295 Scania Buses for the Rapid Transport
System 94
xiv. Parliament House- Job 600 Offices and
reconfiguration
of Parliament 102
xv. The 500-bed Military Hospital Project in
Kumasi; 180
xvi. First and Second phase of the Tamale
Teaching Hospital 110
xvii. The Police Hospital Project; 68.4
xviii. The Ashanti Regional Hospital at Sewua-
Kumasi; 339
xix. The Upper West Regional Hospital 21.5
xx. Kpong Intake Rehabilitation Project 21.1
xxi. Accra-Tema Metro Area Water Supply
Project 20.8
TOTAL
GH¢3,419.00
Reality check reveals that all these projects
sum up to some $3.42 billion out of the
increase in total debt by the equivalent, at the
time of borrowing, of some $27 billion, and oil
revenues. In an apparent attempt by the
Minister for Finance to respond to this query
he enumerated a couple of water and road
projects all of which added up to $450million
thus bringing the total sum to $3.87billion.
So where is the rest of the money? Mr.
Minister, how do you account for the
difference between $27billion and $
3.87billion? For the sake of transparency, the
Government should list all the projects
financed by domestic and external borrowing
and the amounts involved since 2009 to
enable proper accounting for the increase in
the stock of debt and oil receipts. We are
indeed happy that a member from the NPP
minority caucus in Parliament has filed an
urgent question requesting the Minister of
Finance to do just this.
SPECIAL TAX ON PETROLEUM
The budget has unleashed more hardships on
Ghanaians by hurriedly passing into law a
17.5% Special Tax on petroleum products. The
alacrity and manner of the passage of this tax
in itself shows that the government is aware
of the high pitch of ill feeling against this tax
and did not want the public to debate it
before passage. We should recall that this is
the same ruling party who at the time oil
prices hit $147 per barrel complained that
domestic fuel prices were too high. They went
on demonstrations using the Committee for
Joint Action (CJA) to protest the high price of
petroleum products.
At the time, they argued that the taxes on
petroleum products should be reduced and
promised to reduce petroleum prices
“drastically” when elected. Six years down the
road, many of the CJA demonstrators are now
ministers in or apologists and cheer leaders
for this NDC government and they have
forgotten all their pledges to the Ghanaian
people. The NDC and their praise singers have
demonstrated in so doing that they do not
care and they cannot be trusted.
In 2008, the price of a litre of kerosene (which
is largely used in rural areas) was Ghp70. At
that time it represented 31% of the daily
minimum wage. The NDC said the price was
too high. Before the 2015 budget the price of
the same litre of kerosene had increased to
GHC3.23, representing 53.8% of the daily
minimum wage. It is clear that an additional
special tax of 17.5% will only further increase
the burden on Ghanaians. The Government
through the NPA, in applying the Automatic
Price Adjustment Formula should have
reduced the price of petroleum products
following the recent global reduction in oil
prices. Rather than doing this, the NPA, with
the tacit support of government, for a long
period adamantly refused to do so. The
Automatic Price Adjustment Formula has
apparently now become an ‘Automatic Upward
Price Adjustment Formula’ under this NDC
government. While consumers were still trying
to figure out what has been going on, they
were hit by a Special Tax. Hon. Minister of
Finance, should Ghanaians expect a Special
Wage Increase to compensate workers?
The Special Tax on petroleum products will
further increase the already high cost of doing
business in the country. At the time when
many businesses are having to pay for diesel
to run generators as a result of load-shedding,
they are being asked to pay more taxes on
fuel. This will escalate the cost of production.
It is instructive to state that government has
since December 31, 2014 decreased the price
of petroleum products by 10%. That is a mere
pinprick. From the price of $95 per barrel that
crude oil averaged for a greater portion of the
year to the current prices of below $50 per
barrel, petrol should be selling at GH¢9.39 per
gallon instead of the current reduction price of
GH¢13.85 using the Automatic price
Adjustment formula.
If government moves swiftly to deal with the
deep seated waste and reported corruption in
payroll administration, enough savings would
accrue to the budget and this tax measure
would have been rendered unnecessary. If the
leakages are not plugged, then no amount of
tax increases would solve the problem. We
have reached a point in our developmental
trajectory where value for money should be
demanded by all stakeholders and partners.
VAT ON FINANCIAL SERVICES AND REAL
ESTATE
In the 2014 budget the Government pushed
through, against sound arguments to the
contrary, a VAT on fee-based financial
services. The confusion surrounding its
implementation resulted in the withdrawal of
the policy measure. In their desperation to
raise tax revenues, the 2015 budget states
that this VAT on fee-based financial services
will be implemented. This is a bad policy for
the economy. Ghana’s financial system is
underdeveloped with only some 20% of the
population having a Bank account. What the
government should rather be doing is
providing some incentives for financial
inclusion. The introduction of VAT on fee-
based financial services would only serve to
drive people away from the banking system
with the attendant reduction in financial
savings.
It will also increase the cost of doing business
for the business community. For example, a
manufacturer who imports raw materials has
to pay VAT on imports. If he transfers money
through the Bank to pay for the imports, the
manufacturer would pay an additional VAT for
the banking service. The argument is similar
for cost of doing business in the real estate
industry.
Some statistics on the property market in
Ghana would be instructive in placing this
increased tax on real estate transactions in
context. First, Ghana currently has the highest
mortgage to income ratio (at 605%) in the
world. In terms of House Price to Income ratio,
Ghana is the 10th highest in the world. In
terms of housing affordability, Ghana ranks as
the least affordable property market in the
world . Given these facts, it is clear that the
real estate industry in Ghana needs help.
Government should rather be trying to
encourage the development of the mortgage
market through tax incentives for real estate
developers and better land administration. A
5% increase in the tax on real estate
transactions is the wrong way to go.
THE FOCUS ON TAXATION RATHER THAN
EXPENDITURE CONTROL IS WRONG
The 2015 budget demonstrates that the NDC
government has created a fiscal mess after 6
years in office but has no clue how to deal
with it. The government’s focus now is on
raising revenue to hide the fiscal indiscipline.
However, the major problem is expenditure
mismanagement. The budget does not address
expenditure review and re-composition and
measures to ensure fiscal discipline, but rather
focuses on the revenue side (raising more
taxes), thus clearly being insensitive to the
population and taxing them to hide
inefficiencies. There is a saying that “if all you
have is a hammer everything begins to look
like a nail!” This is so appropriate in the case
of this NDC Government.
PROPAGANDA ACHIEVEMENTS
In search for tangible achievements by this
Government, the Minister of finance included
the following as achievements:
• “virtually eliminating the spectre of long
queues for fuel as well as the huge budget
overruns of about GH¢339 million in 2012 and
GH¢135 million in 2013 that resulted from
past failures to adjust prices through the
“automatic adjustment” pricing formula;
Who created the long queues for fuel in the
first place and budget overruns? How can you
create a problem and then consider it an
achievement to revert to the status quo ante?
• “a demonstration of our ability to raise both
domestic and external funds to complete
several projects that were put on Government
budget without adequate source of funds”.
How can this be an achievement? Even as a
HIPC economy, Ghana was able to raise funds
domestically and externally.
• we achieved another important and
significant success in launching our third
Sovereign Bond of US$1 billion in early
September 2014. Similarly, on the same day
as the Bond issue, the Ghana COCOBOD also
signed an agreement for US$1.7 billion, which
was the result of another successful bid to
access the international capital markets.
How can COCOBOD’s regular annual raising of
funds for the purchase of cocoa suddenly
become an achievement by this Government?
IMF POSSIBLE PROGRAM AND RELATED
ISSUES
The Government announced to the world that
it was seeking the support of an IMF
supported program to help address the current
imbalances in the economy. On the basis of
this, it was able to calm the nerves of
investors and issue a $1 billion sovereign
bond. In the prospectus that sought to
convince investors, the Minister of Finance
indicated that a substantial portion of the
amount borrowed would be used for
infrastructure development and critical
projects. What projects did the Minister of
Finance have in mind? The Minister should
list and provide a detailed plan of what
projects he has in mind.
We are reliably informed that the amount
raised has been used to reduce government’s
indebtedness at the Central Bank and that the
funds are not available anymore for the
purpose for which it was raised. The NPP
Minority in Parliament have already raised red
flags on this and called on the Minister of
Finance to answer questions relating to the $
1billion sovereign bond. How untruthful can a
government be? How can we borrow such a
huge amount to fill a gap at the Bank of
Ghana? Is this the use to which non-
concessional borrowing should be put? This is
a very serious development and Government
should realize that its credibility is being
shred into tatters!
In the 2015 budget statement, there are no
visible elements of an underlying agreement
on an IMF supported framework. In all
likelihood therefore the nation will see a
revised budget statement if a final deal is
concluded in 2015. Where is the financing
coming from to fill the budget gap? Are
Donors likely to disburse without an IMF
agreement and in the midst of corruption
especially in payroll administration? Is the
government planning on using parastatals like
GNPC (which has recently purportedly entered
into an agreement to borrow $700 million
without parliamentary approval in violation of
the Constitution and the Petroleum Revenue
Management Act) to fill the gap? What will
the government do if there is no IMF
agreement? The questions are tall and this
budget is therefore clouded with so much
uncertainty going forward.
The 2015 budget is supposed to be the work
programme of the government for a period of
just one year. The programme should be
predictable in order to be able to offer
assurance to potential investors. If we cannot
plan for one year then it will be difficult to
woo investors.
PILLARS OF TRANSFORMATIONAL AGENDA
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are told in
paragraph 131 of the budget statement that
the transformational agenda rests on three
strategic interventions, namely:
i. strengthening and deepening the essential
elements and institutions of good governance.
Parliament is the bastion of democratic
governance. How has Parliament been
strengthened in the budget? The Electoral
Commission is an essential institution in good
governance. How has that institution been
resourced in this budget? Charity, they say,
begins at home. Parliamentary democracy is
not strengthened if their request is decimated.
We know the Electoral Commission has not
been allocated resources to perform some
critical activities which they need to do in
2015 preparatory to the 2016 General and
Presidential elections. The sign posts are
emerging. The Finance Minister should not by
his actions and inactions create a situation
where the December 2016 elections would be
engulfed in confusion. Nobody should have
any cause to complain again. And that is why
we urge the Minister of Finance to do what is
right, immediately.
ii. Promoting export-led growth through
products that build up on Ghana’s
comparative strength in agricultural raw
materials is the second of three strategic
interventions. There has been a paradigm shift
in the international economy and geopolitics:
the discourse now is on competitive
advantage and no longer comparative
advantage or strength. The Minister should be
alert to the socio-economic philosophy of the
day and not immerse himself in ideas of
yesteryears.
and
iii. The third is “anchoring industrial
development through prudent use of natural
resources based on locally processed value
addition.
AGRICULTURE
Fellow Ghanaians, the second strategic
intervention that government intends to make
is in the area of agriculture to promote export-
led growth. The question to ask is which
agricultural product is government piloting in
this promotion? The budget mentions only one
agric product, cotton (Ref. Par. 351). If we
want to stimulate growth in the cotton
industry, then we need to be more scientific.
The bud of Ghana’s cotton is small and,
therefore, the yarns of cotton produced in
Ghana are short and twining comes with
additional expenditure. This is why the
Akosombo, Juapon and Tema Textile
companies, as early as in the sixties, had to
import long-yarned cotton from Egypt and
Sudan. Unfortunately, the budget does not
provide any solutions to this, going forward.
Re-afforestation has almost collapsed whilst
logging has gone into high gear. The latter
contributed 16.5% in the overall agricultural
growth of 5.3% in 2014. It should tell us that
we are fast depleting our forest cover. At the
turn of the 20th Century the forest cover of
Ghana was 8.5million hectares. Today, the
forest cover is less than 700,000 hectares. In
2014 there were many reported cases of
chainsaw activities and illegal lumbering. We
are not sure anybody heard of new acreages of
degraded lands being reafforested! If
agricultural growth as contained in the 2015
document, is being led by logging in the face
of serious deforestation, the nation should be
scared.
Fellow citizens, if we must admit it,
agriculture is not doing well (ref. pg.12).
Agriculture is not doing well because of the
paltry budgetary allocation to the sector. In
December 2013 we lamented the fact that only
1.07% of total budgetary allocation went to
agriculture in 2014 that is excluding the ABFA
from the Petroleum Fund. This explains why in
2014, $1.5billion of foodstuffs was imported
into the country against a food import bill of
$600million in 2008.
Out of the total GH¢44billion budget figure for
2015 only GH¢484.3million equivalent to
1.1% is allocated to the Ministries of
Agriculture and Fisheries and agriculture
Development. How do we grow agriculture
with such pittance?
The import of fish poultry, tomatoes, cooking
oil, have all almost doubled between 2008 and
2014.
In 2013 we lamented that the true state of the
food, agriculture and cocoa subsector is one of
stagnation. Real growth in agriculture spiraled
downwards from 7.4% in 2008 to 7.2% in
2009 through 5.3% in 2010 then 0.8% in
2011; 2.3% in 2012 and 5.0% in 2013. The
projected growth for 2014 is 5.2%. Clearly, a
major reason for the decline of agriculture has
been the decline of the share of agriculture in
the total budgetary allocation. From 3.0% in
2009 it climbed down to 1.9% in 2012 and
1.07% in 2013. Add onto this the tax that was
slapped on matchetes, fertilizers, hoes, other
farming equipments, fishing nets, and premix
fuel. The result of this is reduced food security
for the country and low productivity resulting
in low income for farmers.
Over the past three years we have lamented
the stagnation of growth in the production of
basic food staples (cereals, legumes, roots and
tubers). The huge yearly fluctuations in
outputs and the rising imports of rice from
395,400 metric tonnes in 2008 to 543,465
metric tonnes in 2011 and over 600,000
metric tonnes in 2013 for which alone the
nation spent US$374million (ref.pg 11 of 2014
State of the Nation Address) provide ample
testimony to the deepened food insecurity in
the country. Today the nation is on the brink
of serious shortages in the supply of maize a
major staple in all parts of the country. In
2014 Crops was projected to grow at 5.8% but
the out-turn was 3.6% which is 38% short of
what was anticipated to be produced.
Production of meat and fish has not seen
much growth and that is why, correspondingly,
there has been a steady increase in the
importation of livestock and poultry products:
from 128,000 metric tonnes in 2008, to
139,000 tonnes in 2011, $170million in 2013
and $283million on imported fish. Government
was least serious in its policy on poultry in
2013 – 2014. For in 2013 the Ministry of
Agriculture raised and distributed 8000
cockerels to 500 farmers – so each farmer had
16 cockerels!!
In 2009 the NDC government established the
Local Premix Committees (LPC) to facilitate
what they called “a fairer distribution of
premix fuel to fishermen”. Today, there are
still reports of persistent shortages of premix
in virtually all the fishing communities. That
is quite aside the fact that the price of premix
fuel, fishing nets, outboard motors and
wooden canoes have all gone up steeply. The
combined effect of these is deepening poverty
in the fishing communities.
FERTILIZERS
There is no mention of fertilizer subsidy in the
2015 budget. In the 2014 government gave an
indication to distribute 180,000 metric tonnes
of subsidized fertilizers to farmers in the
course of the year. How much money was set
aside for this exercise and what has happened
to the money especially since the farmers are
in agreement that for 2014 no new fertilizers
were imported or distributed?
Today a bag of NPL fertilizer is selling at GH
¢130. How many farmers can afford this? Yet
another reason why food security is being
threatened.
Recently the Ministry of Agriculture has
pronounced that farmers should get used to
less subsidies from government. Is that the
new policy? And, if so, what will the effect be
on production and income to farmers, and by
that, on poverty reduction in the country?
IRRIGATION OF ACCRA AND AFRAM PLAINS
The Accra Plains and Afram Plains irrigation
projects which have the potential of positively
in impacting food security for the nation have
remained on the books. The 2009 – 2013
budget documents all mentioned these
projects. The 2015 document mentions the
development of Accra plains in line with
tradition but that is all that there is to it as it
has been since 2009 (ref. par 347).
COCOA
Once again, farmers have been called to
rescue Ghana. Can anybody imagine what the
exchange rate, indeed the economy would look
like without the recent US$1.7billion
syndicated cocoa loan? It is the cocoa bean
that was pledged to international bankers for
$1.7billion to save the economy from virtual
collapse. That is why it is doubly agonizing
when farmers are not commensurately
appreciated.
The annual bonuses due farmers have not
been paid for three consecutive years, i.e.
2011/12 – 2013/14 cocoa years. The GH¢5
bonus per bag of the produce announced
recently is a slap in the face of the farmers
since “by day” labour attracts double that
amount.
After three years of paying fixed and agonizing
producer price against the backdrop of
escalating prices in every facet of our national
life the cocoa farmer has now been awarded
an increase to GH¢345 per bag. Given the
world market price today, the current exchange
rate as well as the NDCs own manifesto
pledge to pay at least 70% of the FOB price,
the cocoa farmer should have received a new
price of not less than GH¢470 cedis per bag
and especially also because for three years
now government has fed fat on the sweat of
cocoa farmers.
Inspite of the contrived euphoria which greeted
the producer price increase, this amount will
not encourage farm land expansion nor spur
increase in the quantum produced.
We in the NPP note the coincidence, that last
year’s “farmers’ Day” held at Sefwi Wiawso.
We had earlier gone there to show solidarity
with cocoa farmers, and draw attention to how
government was shortchanging farmers in
Ghana. The good thing is that government
went to the same location, not to bring relief
but to restrict themselves to the status quo.
INDUSTRY
The third strategic intervention relates to
industrial development through prudent use of
national resources. High fallutin
pontifications! The plain truth is that industry
is not doing well. Industry was targeted to
grow at 6.8% in 2014 from the high 11%
growth in 2012. It grew at 4.6% and that was
driven by petroleum activities which grew at
18.2% (par 44). Manufacturing grew at
negative 8.0% (-8.0%). Construction grew at
12.8% but employment in construction is
usually short-term and transitional. The real
deal is in manufacturing which is not doing
well.
Manufacturing industry is not doing well
because of lack of access to long-term credit.
The second is the lack of access to even
short-term credit (over borrowing by
government is squeezing out private
entrepreneurs); the third is high interest rates
for those who are able to access credit; the
fourth is the erratic nature of utility supplies
to industry. Fifth is the high cost of utility
services. Sixth is the incessant power outages.
Seventh is the huge taxes imposed on
industry. Finally, the depreciation of the cedi
is worrying to industry as it renders the fiscal
environment unpredictable. In that sense, the
platform to stabilize industry has not yet been
created, so using industry to secure the bright
prospects of the economy in 2015 can only be
a mirage.
LOW INVESTOR CONFIDENCE
Ladies and gentlemen, the rising cost of doing
business, occasioned by the huge taxes, lack
of access to credit, high interest rates,
“dums4” “dums4”, rising inflation, high utility
tariffs, a weakening currency all point to a
clear case of declining consumer and investor
confidence in the system and one would have
thought that the budget would have devised
and introduced ingenious ways to stimulate
growth in investor and consumer confidence.
Alas, there is none!
TRADE
In 2001 trade deficit registered US$3.1billion.
In 2012 the deficit was $4.2billion. In 2013
merchandize export was US$13.7 billion while
total merchandize import amounted to US$
17.6billion. The pattern has continued in
2014.
The worsening balance of trade position
contributed to the massive current account
deficit of $5.7billion in 2013 and a colossal
depreciation of the cedi from GH¢2.2 to US$
1.0 in December 2013 to GH¢3.30 as we
speak now.
The free fall of the cedi has resulted in over
exposure of local traders who are left unable
to protect their working capital. Many
Ghanaian retailers were in 2014 forced to
close their shops because they were operating
at a loss. The situation was further
aggravated by the invasion of foreigners in
local trade.
The huge cost of transportation as a result of
frequent increases in the price of petroleum
products, six times in 2013 and five times in
2014 has occasioned a huge price differential
between the farm gates and the markets in the
cities. These are matters that call for the
intervention of government yet the 2015
Budget and Economic Policy provides no
direction.
EMPLOYMENT
Fellow Ghanaians, where agriculture and
industry are not doing well employment
cannot be generated. We need to provide
employment to increase productivity and
generate growth yet there are no new bold
measures in this direction.
It is important to state that the right to work,
according to Article 24(1) of the constitution
is a fundamental human right and hence the
work program of government must address
this. One must concede, however, that,
realistically, as a nation we are far away from
affording this right to every Ghanaian.
Notwithstanding, we must focus attention and
effort to address this phenomenon.
In 2008 the NDC assured the nation to apply
State machinery and resources to create jobs
for the people, especially the youth. Their
strategic objective was to provide every
Ghanaian with a job from which they could
earn their livelihood (pg 60 of 2008
manifesto). Even though the combined
strength of Public and Civil Servants is about
750,000 the NDC propagandist and
misinformation Ministers claimed that they
had, by 2010 created 1.5million jobs. The
budgets of 2011 and 2012 both indicated a
job creation of 120,000. The 1.5million
phantom jobs creation could only come from
persons who insist that when their fellows see
a sheep they have to exclaim that they have
seen a cow.
Exploiting President Nkrumah’s “work and
happiness” slogan the NDC declared to launch
an Employment Policy to reduce
unemployment to the barest minimum. Today,
unemployment has risen sharply, no thanks to
the very high cost of doing business in Ghana,
the “dums4, dums4”, the erratic water and
other utilities supply and the ever increasing
petroleum products prices, many people have
been thrown out of employment because
industry in Ghana is restive and not doing
well.
In 2012, as in 2008, the NDC has promised in
their manifesto to launch a major housing and
public works scheme involving urban roads,
drainage construction and environmental
sanitation to generate massive employment.
The 2015 Budget document offers no direction
in this.
ENERGY
Mid-year 2007 and early 2008 the country
had problems with power generation
attributable, primarily, to the low level of water
in the Akosombo dam at that time due to
severe drought. The NDC in response then
insisted that they “would ensure the supply of
power on a reliable and suitable basis” if they
were elected into office.
They pledged “to ensure the delivery of energy
services to all consumers in a secure, efficient,
reliable, sustainable, safe and
environmentally-friendly manner”. Indeed, the
Hon. Haruna Iddrisu forcefully asserted, even
in the face of the drought that Kufuor’s
government had no excuse to plunge the
nation into power outages and that if the NDC
assumed the reigns of government, “adumdum
adumdum no begyae”.
Six years on, the NDC have not delivered on
their pledge and the energy sector is in crisis.
The problems in the energy sector are self-
inflicted and ensue from indecisions and not-
well-thought-through policies of government.
The resolution of these problems is within the
competence and control of government and
VRA. The latter have not kept up their
capacity expansion and government has not
sufficiently resourced VRA to procure crude oil
to propel electric power generation.
Government is still hugely indebted to the Bulk
Oil Distribution Companies which debt is
destabilizing the BDCs and also deepening the
risk exposure of the commercial banks in the
country. BOST is in dire straits and the
country’s strategic oil reserves are virtually
non-existent. Under President Kufuor the
country’s strategic oil reserves could hold for
3 months.
On monthly basis the country has to
experience fuel price increases because of the
ever depreciating Ghana cedi and not because
of world price increases. The Bui Dam
meanwhile has run into technical problems.
About 25% of electricity generated is lost
because ECG’s transmission network is in a
terrible state of disrepair. ECG needs about $
700million investment. Government is not
assisting but government is hugely indebted
to ECG. In the meantime, ECG loses about $
110million yearly due to poor transmission.
The T3 thermal plant ran into technical
problems arising out of contractual
disagreements between VRA and the Canadian
contractors on the project. The TI plant has
also not worked effectively and efficiently over
the past three (3) years.
The gas project at Aboadze has had several
false starts and it is good that professional
assurances are now being given about
readiness of the facility to free the thermal
plants in Takoradi. There is still no converter
plant to scale the gas for industrial and
commercial use and the earlier we
demonstrated seriousness on this the better
for the nation.
In the face of these mountainous problems it
borders on absurdity to hear the Minister of
Energy who is now responsible for Petroleum
in his contribution to the Budget debate in
Parliament castigating the NPP that they are
the cause of the problems confronting the
energy sector because they did not generate
one megawatt of power in the entire 8-years of
Kufuor’s administration. That was most
unkind and most untruthful.
Uthman dan Fodio is the sage who said,
“Conscience is an open wound which only
truth can heal”. For the avoidance of doubt,
we will like to chronicle the plants that were
started or added during NPP’s 8-years in
power:
To avoid such misinformation, we put out the
party’s contribution to the generation of
electricity during our administration.
The following Plants which had a total
generating capacity of 1536mw were added or
started during NPP’s two terms in Office:
1. VRA Plant – Tema (Funded by government)
– 110 megawatts.
2. Mines Reserve Plant (Funded by Mining
Companies with Government support) – 80
megawatts.
3. The VRA Athol Plant – Tema – 50
megawatts.
4. Emergency Plant – Tema (Funded by
government) – 120 megawatts.
5. Asogli Plant, Tema (Funded by Private
investor with government support) – 200
megawatts
6. Bui Hydroelectric power – 400 megawatts
(funded by government)
7. Aboadze Thermal Plant, (T3), Takoradi
(NPP secured funding) – 136 megawatts
8. Osorno (CENT) Thermal Plant, Tema – 120
megawatts
9. Kpone/Zachem Thermal Plant – 220
megawatts
10. Akosombo Retrofit increase Akosombo’s
capacity from 920mw to 1020mw
11. The NPP also by strenuous efforts
superintended the discovery of oil in
commercial quantities, which made possible
the availability and production of Gas.
All these were bequeathed to the NDC in 2009.
The NDC assumed office when there was no
load shedding in January 2009.
Three (3) and half years into the tenure of the
NDC, the nation was plunged into load
shedding. The load shedding has persisted up
to today with varying intensity.
It has taken the NDC five (5) years and we still
have not seen the completion of the gas
project, despite several proposed completion
dates from the Minister and his associates.
Instead of apologizing for the hardship they
have brought unto Ghanaians and businesses,
the Minister of Energy is rather shifting blame
and engaging in bragging.
It is a reflection of the Minister’s ability that
the electricity generation has been taken away
from his portfolio. We urge him to work harder
in his remaining portfolio and do less
propaganda.
Energy conservation also saves power, for
example in 2007 $15m was spent to procure
6million compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) to
replace the high energy consuming
incandescent bulbs which were distributed
freely saved the country 124 megawatts
Replacement of old fridges with new one will
reduce consumption of energy (The Energy
Commission Report of 2007).
Whilst we are at this, it may be important for
the nation to know why inspite of the fall in
the price of Brent crude and light crude which
have dropped below $52 and $50 per barrel,
respectively, the price of petroleum products
locally have not commensurately responded?
Once again, we demand: has the Automatic
Price Adjustment Formula been abandoned? If
it has not been abandoned, the NDC must
keep faith with Ghanaians and cause petrol to
be sold at GH¢9.39. Nothing less than that. If
the government, in their usual “yentie obiaa”
stance decide not to listen, we in the NPP will
have to make them listen.
GNPC & IT’S BORROWING SPREE
By way of emphasis let us also strongly
indicate to GNPC that they cannot be a law
unto themselves. A fully subvented state
enterprise cannot use revenues due to the
State as collateral to secure loans! The PRMA
allows only the State to use our oil revenues
as collateral. That privilege is not extended to
any corporation, regardless of its status. We in
the NPP will stand up against that
misadventure which almost collapsed Ghana
Commercial Bank in the early 90’s and which
caused Dr. Kwesi Botchwey to resign as
Minister of Finance.
EDUCATION
In his 2004 State of the Nation Address the
President declared that his Vision for national
development has a people first agenda. That
being the case, education should be of
paramount concern to us all. Besides, as a
people we need to strenuously work to achieve
MDG2. Beyond that, one would have thought
that having established the three strategic
nodal areas of intervention as captured in
paragraphs 121 and 131 the budget for
“Transformation” was going to provide the
connect between how education would feed
into the strategic needs of the economy. In
other words, how would education positively
impact efficiency of labour force in both
agriculture and industry to engender greater
productivity? There is no interface.
Whilst the budget for the education sector has
increased by 15.9% over the 2014 allocation,
inflation over the same period was 16.9%
whilst the depreciation of the cedi is in excess
of 70%. In real terms, therefore, there is
negative increase in funding education. In the
event, investment in education may suffer as
personnel emolument cannot be touched.
Ladies and gentlemen, 25% of the entire
budgetary allocation goes to education i.e.
GH¢5.8billion in 2014 and GH¢6.74billion in
2015, yet these do not reflect in the
performance of pupils in public schools due in
particular to poor management and
administration as well as poor supervision of
and output from teachers. That explains why
even when gross enrollment rate is rising at
the level of basic education the dropout rate
at the JHS and SHS level is getting rather
alarming. The 2015 budget related to arrears
in GETFUND, School Feeding, Capitation Grant
and the salaries of new Teacher recruits. The
combined effect of these is the lowering of
morale. One must also allude to the many
strikes affecting the education sector: POTAG,
UTAG, NAGRAT, TEWU etc. These will
negatively impact the performance of pupils
and students. Government must show concern.
QUALITY EDUCATION
As part of improving the quality of education,
the President in 2013 assured to integrate
Kindergarten (KG) education into the
mainstream system as if the policy did not
already exist. Between 2005 – 2008 the
Kufuor administration included a 2-unit KG
block in the basic schools that were
constructed at the time. Teachers were to be
trained to acquire the requisite skills. Since
2009 the Mills-Mahama governments have
abandoned the idea of re-integrating KG
education into the mainstream. The
President’s assurance in 2013 was therefore
heartwarming yet nothing has happened since
then. The new basic school structures that
have been awarded since 2013 do not come
with KG components and the training of
teachers to cater for the KG system have not
be mentioned since then. The 2015 budget
does not mention them.
The 2008 NDC manifesto stated that the basic
school feeding program, which the Mills-
Mahama administration inherited would be
expanded to cover all basic schools in 4 years,
i.e., beginning 2009. That promise had by the
end of 2012 not materialized. In 2013 the
President shifted the goal post and stated
then that they would expand the school-
feeding program to “all public basic schools in
rural communities”, significantly, this time, not
any longer to all basic schools in the country!
Even then, how many public basic schools in
how many rural communities which had no
school feeding before 2013 have benefitted
since then remains unaccounted for in both
2014 and 2015 Budget Statements. There is
no indication because, apparently, nothing
happened.
In the meantime, the payment of the
capitation grant has since 2013 become a big
problem for Mahama government. In most
schools for a whole year the grants have not
been paid. Chalk is the most basic working
tool for any school teacher. Many public basic
schools cannot still access chalk to teach
schools children.
Last year in re-commissioning the Shoe
Factory in Kumasi the President promised to
supply basic school kids with shoes from the
factory. The 2015 budget is silent on this. Is it
the case that our President just enjoys giving
promises without checking on whether or not
the State can afford it? It is no wonder people
are now referring to him as “Mr. Promise and
Fail”.
HEALTH
In 2014 the President stated in his State of
the Nation Address that his government has a
“vision to extend quality health care to all our
people…” The mandate of the Ministry of
Health is to promote good health for all
Ghanaians through the prevention of
diseases…” among others. The Ministry has
been concerned with some star projects which
the Minister chronicled then the Minister
spoke about preparations to confront Ebola,
which fortunately has not entered Ghana yet.
The outbreak of cholera in 2014 has
traumatized Ghanaians and caused several
casualties. The budget provides no mention
about dealing with it.
The budget purposes the scaling up of
capitation in health service delivery to all the
regions in Ghana except Greater Accra and
Northern Region (par 633). Capitation in
insurance increases out-of-pocket expenditure
and therefore further impoverishes subscribers.
Government is determined to replenish the
resources of the insurance scheme but that
should not further negatively impact the living
conditions of the people.
There have been too many frictions and
hiccups in the relationship between Health
practitioners and government. Increasingly the
relationship between the associations and
government seems to be worsening thereby
negatively affecting the health of the people.
Appropriate conflict resolution mechanisms
must be devised to deal with this but there is
no new policy direction in this budget.
CORRUPTION
Let us conclude, on issues of corruption that
have lately befuddled our governance system.
On Tuesday December 2, 2014 the Ghana
Integrity Initiative, the local chapter of
Transparency International launched their
report on 173 countries. Ghana placed high on
the list of corrupt countries scoring less than
50 points. The issues they related to include
recovering so-called judgment debts that have
been wrongfully paid to Alfred Agbesi
Woyome, Waterville, Isofoton, Construction
Pioneers, the unbridled resort to sole sourcing
in procurement, gathering the political will to
prosecute cases of corruption in high places;
SADA, GYEEDA, SUBA matters, among others.
One could only be sorely disappointed when
the President plaintively declared that
(government) “will introduce new rules and
deploy systems to strengthen expenditure
management which will reduce waste and
corrupt practices (ref. par 886)”. How, when,
where we are not told! Empty rhetorics!! Yet
corruption has become a canker.
Now, there are issues connected with National
Service Scheme. The nation is awaiting the
prosecution of the suspects.
Kumasi Airport, GH¢29million spent…. How
much was spent on resurfacing the 1800m
stretch of the runway, GH¢2million? And the
procurement of the runway (aeronautic)
lighting system? How much was spent on the
improvement of the parking area? Parliament
shall have to inquire into what the GH
¢29million has been spent on.
In President Rawlings era, the average cost of
double-layered asphalted road construction
was $600,000 per kilometer; in President
Kufuor’s time the average cost was $480,000.
Today, under President John Mahama the
average cost has escalated to $1.4 – $
1.5million. The cost of constructing a 6-unit
classroom block plus a 2-unit KG block was
GH¢85,000 under President Kufuor, under
President Mahama the 2-unit KG has been
taken out, the 6-unit block is priced at GH
¢300,000. We have made issues with the so-
called sale and purchase of Merchant Bank;
the payments made in the STX transaction;
the purchase of Embraer planes; the projects
which the $3billion loan was supposed to
fund; the cost of the construction or
refurbishment of health facilities, including the
Ridge Hospital and Police Hospital; SUBA,
GYEEDA, SADA; government’s own
unprecedented over-expenditure in 2012 on
programs and projects which to date have
neither been properly explained nor sufficiently
accounted for etc, etc. Simply put, the nation
is being fleeced and the nation is bleeding.
NARCOTICS
Countrymen and women, on the way forward
to fighting trade in narcotics in the face of the
recurrence of arrest of narcotics dealers in
Washington, New York, London, Hamburg,
Berlin, Amsterdam, etc and especially in the
arrest of Ms. Ruby Nayele Ametefe and the
man in charge of aspects of security at KIA,
we in the NPP have proffered suggestions:
1. NACOB must be overhauled
2. The Bill to turn NACOB into a Commission
prepared in 2008 must come to Parliament as
soon as possible.
3. The position of the Executive Secretary of
NACOB must be taken from politicians and
revert to professional intelligence operatives.
4. Cooperation in the operation West Bridge
must be deepened.
STATUTORY PAYMENTS
The NPP has drawn attention to the breach of
the statutory provisions with respect to the
non-payment of Social Security contribution
which state institutions collect from civil and
public servants as well as transfers to DACF,
NHIS, GETFund and Road Fund by government
as of September 2014. As has been done
before, we expect the Minister to seek explicit
approval from Parliament to be allowed to pay
these arrears by a specified time period. In
addition, the Minister should assure
Parliament that going forward he will be in
compliance with the various Acts and provide
quarterly reports to Parliament on the status
of implementation.
CONCLUSION
All told, Fellow Ghanaians, the nature,
character, form and shape of the 2015 budget
is anything but TRANSFORMATIONAL. The
short term prospects of the economy are
gloomy, and therefore do not provide any
proper foundation for the future and hence the
medium term prospects cannot be bright. In
that regard the “Transformational Agenda” of
the 2015 Budget Statement and Economic
Policy can only be a forlorn hope without any
basis.
The President is required under Article 36(1)
to “Take all necessary action to ensure that
the national economy is managed in such a
manner as to maximize the rate of economic
development and to ensure the maximum
welfare; freedom and happiness of every
person in Ghana and to provide adequate
means of livelihood and suitable employment
and public assistance to the needy”.
Article 36(2) deals with the steps to establish
a sound and healthy economy and strands out
critical issues like:
i) guaranteeing fair and realistic remuneration
to encourage higher productivity;
ii) fostering an enabling environment to boost
the private sector;
iii) undertaking even and balanced
development of every part of all regions,
especially, improving the living conditions in
the rural areas;
iv) promoting the robust development of
agriculture and industry, among others.
These are the yardsticks that must be used to
comb and assess the economic policy of the
NDC government as expressed in the 2015
Budget Statement.
The President has since 2013 been assuring
all who care to listen to him that the “medium
term prospects of the (country’s) economy are
bright”. In the context of that declaration,
“securing the bright medium term prospects of
the economy” which is the theme of the
budget can only mean, that in the eyes of the
President, the budget seeks to “firmly fix” or
“firmly assure of the custody” of the bright
medium term prospects of the economy.
In the final analysis, the issues that matter to
the Ghanaian people as far as the 2015
budget is concerned are as follows:
1. Does the budget ensure that the national
economy and the resources available are well
managed? The answer is “No”.
2. Will the budget maximize the rate of
economic development? No
3. Will the budget create Jobs for our teeming
unemployed, especially graduates? No
4. Will the budget reduce the cost of doing
business and make the economy investor-
friendly? No
5. Will the 2015 budget reduce the high cost
of living and suffering of the ordinary
Ghanaian? No
6. Will the budget improve the standard of
living and ensure the maximum welfare of the
people? No
7. Will this budget provide adequate means of
livelihood, suitable employment and public
assistance to the needy? No
8. Will this budget provide better conditions of
service for teachers, nurses, doctors, civil
servants and workers in general and hence
reduce the agitations and strike actions by
workers? No
9. Will the 2015 budget allow workers to
select their own Tier 2 Pension Fund
Managers and account for the deductions
made? No
10. Will the budget restore the allowances of
teacher and nursing trainees? No
11. Will the budget end the incessant power
outages (“Adumdum adumdum”)? No
12. Will the budget stop the high level of
corruption in the country today? No
13. Will the budget transform the economy
and formalize the informal sector? No
The 2015 budget does not answer any of the
above questions in the affirmative, and that is
why it is meaningless to the ordinary
Ghanaian. At the end of the day, if the
fundamental problems with the economy are
not dealt with, the threat to the
macroeconomic stability of the country, going
forward, will not abate.
A local adage puts it more succinctly: “akyea
na 1mmui, 1sen ab1buo nyinaa d1” which
loosely translates “even though it (the
economy) is heavily tilted, it is not completely
broken and hence it can be salvaged”. The
New Patriotic Party is ready to rescue this
sinking ship since, clearly, both the driver and
the mate have demonstrated to all of us
Ghanaians that they are clueless in the face of
such grotesque maladministration.
Fellow Ghanaians let us all come together, roll
up our sleeves and put our shoulders to the
wheel to rescue this sinking ship, as clearly a
Sinking Fund alone cannot do it.
As you might have noticed, we have basically
dealt with the economy, the financials and
just a few of the sectors. In the coming weeks
we intend to address the critical matters
afflicting the various sectors with a view to
proffering suggestions to get the country out
of this self-inflicted Mahamian mess.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, we thank
you once again for your prompt response to
our invitation.

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