The Mid-Year Budget Review has nothing for Ghanaians – Ato Forson

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Cassiel Ato Forson, Dep. Minister of Finance
Cassiel Ato Forson, Dep. Minister of Finance

Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on the Finance Committee has described the Mid-Year Budget Review presented by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta as hopeless with nothing in it for Ghanaians.

According to him, the Ghanaian economy in the current situation is in a bad shape, and urged the Government to take what he called “the right decisions” and actions.

Dr Forson made the remark in reaction to government’s Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the 2021 Financial Year, presented to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.

Dr Forson also stated that almost every single revenue item presented Mid-Year Budget is under performing.

He cited for example that government revenue for the first six months in 2021 under performed by about GH2 billion.

Also, instead of the government deciding to revise the revenue target it rather decided to maintain it, the Ranking Member said, and indicated that within the first six months of 2021 instead of Government spending GH2 billion on Goods and Services, it ended up spending GH4.5 billion.

Dr Forson said instead of the government ensuring that the country’s debt becomes sustainable; it rather decided to go back to the bond market to borrow more money.

“In fact, I have a worry…my worry is that, in as much as this government has decided to borrow, they are borrowing to consume, and apart from that all the revenue items are actually coming down,” the Ranking Member, a former Deputy Minister of Finance, under former President John Mahama’s Administration said.

He challenged the figures presented in the Mid-Year Budget, saying they were “cosmetic”, adding that, “every single target for this year would miss the fiscal mark.”

Mr Isaac Adongo, Deputy Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, also reacting, said the Government failed to come out boldly with revenue measures for the country to get out of the debt trap.

Another major concern of the Minority was the Government’s budget to spend 91 percent of its revenue on interest payments on loans, which Mr Adongo said was not sustainable.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng, former Deputy Minister for Finance and Chairman of the Finance Committee, hailed the Government for maintaining all the social intervention programmes, introducing no new taxes, and not requesting for additional money from the Mid-Year Budget.

He said with the current macro-economic indicators stabilizing, there was likely to be an improvement in the growth of the economy.

Mr Kwarteng said despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on many countries who were struggling, Ghana’s economic recovery has started very well.

“I expect that the economy continues to grow along that path,” the Finance Committee Chairman said.

Dr Stephen Amoah, Member of Parliament (MP) Nhyiaso, lauded the Government for managing the country’s debt level better to ensure fiscal consolidation.

He said former President Mahama’s Administration introduced 10 different taxes, but when President Akufo-Addo assumed office, he scraped 15 different taxes and introduced less than 10 taxes.

Dr Amoah said the Minority’s insistence that the Government should come out boldly with revenue measures to address the country’s debt problem failed to come out with an alternative policy for the government.

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