Ghanaians have been warned to brace for more stifling economic conditions as the Akufo-Addo led NPP government presents its 2019 economic policy for next year, which is set to take the country beyond hell.
The Minority in Parliament, which gave the warning, noted that the two previous budgets of the government that were christened Asempa (good news) and Adwuma (job creation) budgets remarkably did the exact opposite.
Hon. Cassiel Ato Forson, ranking member of the Finance Committee, who was addressing the Minority’s Roundtable Discussion on the 2019 Budget on Tuesday stressed that the 2017 budget that was dubbed Asempa metamorphosed into Asemboni (bad news) while the 2018 budget mutated from Adwuma to Adwuma gu (destroying jobs) budget.
He warned that the 2019 budget, which President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has referred to as Hope, would fare even worse for the Ghanaian populace and that by the end of its period, it would transmogrify into Hopeless Budget.
The Minority portended that the reckless borrowing of the Nana Akufo-Addo-Bawumia government in the coming months is set to take the public debt to GH¢170 billion by the close of 2018 and stressed that Ghana’s total debt has risen from the GH¢122.3 billion in January 2017 to GH¢159.4 billion at the end of July 2018 in just 22 months.
Hon. Ato Forson contended that given its inability to raise domestic revenues to fund its campaign promises, the NPP government’s appetite for borrowing will result in the addition of about GH¢16 billion to the public debt in 2019, which would take the total public debt to approximately GH¢186 billion by close of 2019.
He expressed concern that government has pumped a large chunk of the money it is borrowing into consumption as there is virtually no major capital investment to show for that level of borrowing.
He said, “Besides this unprecedented borrowing, the NPP government has served notice of its intention to commit the country to a US$50 billion century bond and the first tranche of the amount likely to be tabled for approval by Parliament in the 2019 budget.”
“This proposition and government’s general attitude to borrowing underscores the sudden u-turn of President Akufo-Addo who claimed during the electioneering campaign they had the capacity to mobilize domestic revenue to finance the development of the nation.”
Hon. Ato Forson pointed out that in addition to this sudden u-turn, a key promise of President Akufo-Addo before the 2016 elections was the removal of taxes as a way of alleviating what he described as hardships being faced by Ghanaians.
He argued that the 2017 budget statement purported to remove a number of taxes with the claim it would reduce the cost of living and bring relief to Ghanaians but the hope that greeted that announcement was replaced with pain and anguish after a number of draconian fiscal measures were implemented that led to severe economic hardships to all Ghanaians within all income brackets.
He noted that under the Akufo-Addo government fuel prices have gone up on 17 different occasions in the last 21 months while the cedi continues to depreciate significantly leading to hardships and uncertainty for businesses amidst rise in tax rates and introduction of new ones.
The ranking member noted that the unsustainable fiscal measures introduced by the NPP government have had serious consequences for Ghanaian businesses and household, which has resulted in job losses for many people within the last 20 months.
“Most of these job losses occurred within the banking and finance, the media, and the mining industries. Businesses in these industries are struggling to cope with the cost of running their operations and have had to lay off workers or close down.”
These developments, he said, were against the backdrop of the 2017 and 2018 budgets that were dubbed Asempa and Adwuma budgets.
Hon. Ato Forson remarked that the rhetoric that characterized previous budgets have already began and stressed contrary to claims by President Akufo-Addo, analysis show that Ghanaians are in for very tough times in 2019.
According to him, there is no indication there will be change in government’s policy direction and therefore there cannot be a turnaround because effects of rushed implementations of unplanned policies are currently causing a collapse of the macro-fiscal and financial framework.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org