Parliament has approved the sum of GH¢11,896,477,566 requested by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, as an additional expenditure to be made by government for the 2020 financial year.
The motion was moved on Thursday, July 23, 2020 by Mr. Ofori-Atta when he presented the mid-year review of the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government, and was seconded on Monday, July 27, 2020 by the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, last Monday.
According to him, the GH¢11,896,477,566 is expected to help the government finance projects due to revenue shortfalls and budget deficit created by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Contributing to the debate prior to the approval of the mid-year review budget, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the New Patriotic Party (NPP)administration had better managed the economy than its predecessor, the erstwhile Mahama administration.
He juxtaposed the realities of the eight years of the NDC governance and the three years of the NPP administration, and quoted the Finance Minister as saying “the economy that the NPP inherited was in a very bad strain, in a very bad shape, suffocating under a mixed weight of debts, arrears, very high cost of living, high youth unemployment and the worst growth rate since 1994.”
Facts Don’t Lie
He stated that growth in agriculture was declining and indicated that the 2016 was 2.9 per cent as against 6.1 in 2017, 12.8 per cent in 2018, 4.6 per cent in 2019 and 5.1 per cent in 2020 projected.
“Mr. Speaker, this meant that average rate of growth in agriculture under the Akufo-Addo’s regime was 5.2 per cent,” the Majority Leader pointed out and added that 2.9 per cent was registered under Mahama.
He indicated that crops grew at 2.2 per cent, cocoa at o.7 per cent under the NDC as against 7.2 per cent growth in crops in 2017, 5.8 per cent in 2018, 5.3 per cent in 2019 and 5.4 per cent project for 2020.
He explained that the NPP administration registered an average growth of 5.9 per cent “as compared to the shambolic growth rate of 2.2 per cent in agriculture registered under ex-President John Mahama.”
As he was cheered on by members of the majority, Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu disclosed that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) grew cocoa by negative 7.0 per cent, while the 2017 registered 9.2 per cent, 3.7 per cent in 2018, 5.4 per cent in 2019 and 1.3 per cent in 2020, averaging 4.9 per cent under the NPP.
“Growth in industry was abysmal in 2016. But in 2017, Mr. Speaker, it went up to 15.7 per cent, 10.6 per cent in 2018, 6.4 per cent in 2019 and 8.6 per cent in 2020, averaging 10.3 per cent growth from the 4.3 per cent under ex-President John Mahama,” he pointed out.
However, the Minority Leader insisted that the NPP administration had not performed better than the NDC and described the 2020 mid-year review and economic policy statement as nothing but “a party’s manifesto.”
Making reference to the budget statement, the NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale South, said the Finance Minister stated that it would require GH¢100 billion of spending and investment inflows to fully fund the “initiative under the CARE programme in 2021 to 2023.
“Mr. Speaker, 2021 and 2023 the Minister will not probably know his political future and therefore that is a manifesto promise,” he asserted and added that “GH¢100 billion is more than the overall budget of 2020 of GH¢98 billion.”
According to him, it was his expectation that in the time of Covid-19, the government would shift the economic policy and management to public health emergency management.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House