Parliament on Wednesday drew the curtains on the debate on the 2023 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government.
The Budget Statement was presented to the House by Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, the finance minister on Monday, July 31, in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016.
During the debate, various speakers from both sides of the House gave divergent views on the merits and demerits of the Budget.
Mr. Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, the Deputy Majority Leader and New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Effutu, in his concluding remarks lauded the Minister of Finance for turning Ghana’s economy around.
He noted that the finance minister had done well in saving the economy; saying “because if you look at countries like Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Suriname, Zambia, Pakistan, or El Salvador, Mr. Speaker, they could not survive the effects of COVID and the Russia-Ukraine War”.
“Mr. Speaker, as it is today, they are now emerging from these twin ravages.
“Mr. Speaker, today in this country, if you go to our shop shelves, they are not empty, if you need medication, you get, if you need essential services, you get it. Mr. Speaker, we are not queuing at the gas station, we are getting fuel,” he said.
“Mr. Speaker, neither do we have dumsor (persistent, irregular, and unpredictable electric power outage). Dumsor we don’t have it.”
Mr. Afenyo-Markin said Ghana’s economy was not a hopeless economy.
He reiterated that the managers of this current economy of Ghana were better than the managers that managed the economy from 2009 to 2016.
Touching on the energy sector, Mr Afenyo-Markin said some contract agreements signed by the previous Government and Independent Power Producers (IPP) had had adverse effects on Ghana’s economy; adding that “it is not only (the current) Government that is complaining about the contracts, but our international partners have also complained”.
He noted the international partners had indicated that the previous Government had poorly negotiated those contracts.
On his part, Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson the Minority Leader, and National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) in his contribution, said Ghana’s economy was in a mess and that it must also be made clear that this was the worst form of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme since Mansa Musa went on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
He said Ghanaians must understand clearly that it was not the IMF which imposed the conditionalities and austerity on them but rather, the Government that imposed them on the Ghanaian people.
“This is the only IMF programme that came with a debt restructuring, the first in the history of our country.”
Dr Forson reiterated that the Government’ Debt Restructuring Programme had impoverished the rich, the middle class and to a larger extent, the poor.
He said this same debt restructuring had rendered the banking and financial institutions insolvent and bankrupt.
“Most of our banks, non-bank financial institutions and insurance companies declared huge losses in 2022 because of government’s recklessness and mismanagement which resulted in this debt restructuring.
“All the hardships Ghanaians were seeing and experiencing were avoidable: Saying “These hardships are needless”.
Dr Forson said the level of economic adjustments witnessed in the last 12 months had never happened in the history of the country.
Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, in his concluding comments, said the Government had turned the corner and seen significant improvement on the macroeconomics front.
“Mr. Speaker, this turning the corner is backed by facts, headline inflation has declined to 42.50 (per cent), cumulating cedi depreciated by 22.40 per cent against the United States dollar year today, 2023, compared to 50 per cent in November last year and 30 per cent in December 2022.” He said.
“In fact, Mr. Speaker, between February and June this year, the cedi has depreciated by an impressive 1.80 per cent only.”
Mr. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament, urged the Finance Minister to ensure that arrears due to road contractors were paid.