Parliament, yesterday, kick-started debate on the 2016 budget statement and economic policy of the government with heated arguments over lack of quorum, and misrepresentation of figures leading to the suspension of sitting for some minutes.
While members from the majority hailed government for its performance and the prospects of the 2016 budget, the minority disagreed.
Chairman of the Finance Committee, James Avedzi, who was the lead speaker for the majority side, outlined the achievements of the government and praised government for improving upon revenue mobilization this year.
He touched on the need for government to control the pay roll and delete ghost names to contain government’s expenditure in order not to overrun the budget.
“If you look at the macro economic outlook for 2016, the growth targets will result into GDP growth of 5.4 per cent. We want the minister to work hard to exceed that target. On inflation, government should do everything possible to meet the target of 10.1 per cent end year inflation and deficit of 5.3 per cent of GDP,” he said.
A member of the Finance Committee and Member of Parliament (MP) for New Juaben South, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, described the 2016 budget as a repeat of previous budgets as it promises nothing for Ghanaians.
He noted that the budget lacked bold initiative to address the high cost of living, graduate unemployment, as well as persistent energy crises.
“Clearly, the economy is sick. We have had two successive growth of 4.0 last year and 4.1 this year. A growth rate of 4.1 per cent is not taking us anywhere. Next door Cote Devoir, after 11 years of war has grown their economy by 9 per cent. Where did we go wrong?” he questioned.
He said mining and quarrying, and manufacturing which employed a lot of people did not record any significant growth and challenged the government to work hard to turn things around next year.
Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu (NDC Tamale South), in his contribution said monies borrowed by government where used to develop infrastructure in the country.
“Yes we have borrowed as a government but we borrowed to develop the infrastructure of the country to facilitate economic growth,” he said.
He cited rural electrification project, Kasoa and Circle interchange, gas infrastructure, Ridge Hospital, among others, as justifications of the borrowing.
Mr Iddrisu pointed out that the establishment of an EXIM Bank by government to support export would help the Ghanaian private sector to access credit.
“We are committed, as a government, to growing the private sector to ensure that they have access to cheap credit,” he assured.
The Member for Obuasi West, Kweku Kwarteng on his part touched on the current upward trend of prices of goods and services, adding that the 13.8% increase in workers’ salary for next year is equal to slashing the salaries of workers as they would not be able to meet the inflationary levels with the wages they would be taking next year.
Mr Kwarteng criticised government for current energy crisis without any concrete measures to resolve it.
Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah)