Removal of statutory fund would deny Ghana of money-PNF

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A group calling itself Progressive Nationalist Forum (PNF) has kicked against government?s decision to remove all statutory funds in order to meet the conditionalities of the International Monitory Fund (IMF) for a possible financial bailout.

According to the group, the removal of the statutory fund would deny the country the needed funds to improve education, health, among others.

The IMF Mission that visited Ghana on 26th February, 2014 in its report to the IMF Board, made inter alia twin recommendations for prioritization of capital spending combined with reduction in transfers to statutory funds to the lowest permissible levels and integration of spending by statutory funds in the overall investment programme combined with a review of possible legislative change to replace rigid transfers.

Richard Nyamah, Spokesperson of PNF, in a press release, said the ongoing negotiation between the government of Ghana (GOG) and the IMF would shortchange the poor and vulnerable Ghanaian through a twin conditionality programme seeking to reduce or remove all statutory funds.

?It is significant to know that the government, through the President and the Finance Minister, are kowtowing to this conditionality and are withholding statutory payments to the tune of GHC1.42 billion for the 2013/2014.

?This is a dangerous development bordering on national security and we pray parliament does not entertain any such clause suggesting the removal or reduction of statutory payments in the report to be put before them by the combined IMF GOG teams,? he said.

Mr. Nyamah said the sovereignty of Ghana cannot be sold, cautioning Prof Kwesi Botchey, the leader of the Ghana team to be mindful of the fact that the statutory payments by government to education, health, roads, DACF and the social security payments of Ghanaians are a legal obligation as a welfare interface between the people and the government in the social contract between us

He said any breach would have its consequences, adding that ?while we agree with the IMF for the need to cut government expenditure, it is unthinkable that they will suggest a cut or removal of statutory payments.?

Recommendations To Gov?t

Mr. Nyamah said instead of the removal of the statutory payments in an attempt to reduce expenditure, waste and corruption, government should ensure repayment of all bogus payments made to schemes such as GYEEDA, SADA and SUBAH into the consolidated fund, stating that government dissipated an estimated $1 billion to these three schemes.

He said government must also ensure that all bogus judgments payments through the Attorney General?s office are repaid into the consolidated fund and at the same time restructure the Attorney General?s Department to make it more professional, purposeful and modern.

Mr. Nyamah called for legislative changes to empower the Attorney-General to prosecute all offenders found culpable in the Auditor-General?s report.

He called for the restructuring of the payroll to reduce payroll fraud, which is so pervasive in the public sector.

Mr. Nyamah said PNF supports the call by Civil Society Organizations (COS) on both the government and IMF to include civil society and ordinary Ghanaians in the negotiations to ensure that such economy damaging suggestions by the IMF don?t get into the final document.

By Cephas Larbi

cephrok@yahoo.com

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