The much anticipated 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government was presented to Parliament yesterday. As usual, it was not without the drama from the Minority led by its Leader, Dr. Ato Forson displaying placards and describing the budget as a failed policy.
In a sharp rebuttal, the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Alexander Afenyo-Markin said he was surprised about Ato Forson’s attack on the budget, who before the NDC was booted out of government in 2016, could not help his government find solutions to the ‘dumsor’ that collapsed many businesses.
Prior to the “noise” from the Minority condemning the budget and the Majority praising the government for its pragmatic measures, the Finance Minister Ken Nana Yaw Kuntukununku Ofori-Atta had labeled the economic policy as “Victory or Nkunimde Budget” that has set out the parameters for total economic recovery.
The minister recounted many challenges that confronted our economy, major among them being COVID-19 and global economic challenges that compelled Ghana to seek support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In the run-up to the presentation of the budget yesterday, various stakeholder groups had made many demands on the government including tax cuts or removal and salary increment.
While the people make several demands of the government, key stakeholders only criticise without offering solutions to our economic malaise.
A few months ago, there was intense debate over the imposition of taxes on sanitary pads, but the NDC decided to score political points by distancing itself from the tax, although it was introduced in 2013 under the regime of John Mahama.
We know that politics is a struggle between the ideologies, but it is not going to help our cause if we do not build consensus on the economy.
We are facing economic challenges but we should acknowledge efforts by the government to turn the corner.
Some people had expected that the Minority would for instance, acknowledge the decision by the government to extend zero rate on locally manufactured African prints for two more years and locally manufactured sanitary pads and electric vehicles.
Any sincere person cannot ignore the fact that the economy is on the path of recovery albeit slowly.
Just last Tuesday, the nation was told that inflation is on a decline, just about 35 percent, interest rates are coming down and the cedi is maintaining its grounds against all the major currencies.
The government has tried to hold down the prices of petroleum products. There is no economy in the world today that is not undergoing crisis, but gradually they are also working hard to arrest the decline.
We challenge the NDC to provide an alternative to the NPP government’s economic blueprint, and not just shout and carry placards in Parliament.
Since the country went on its knees, the NDC felt the economic challenges offer them the unique opportunity for regime change. Those who lived in the country during the ‘dumsor’ era have described the return of John Mahama as scary.
We do not think that the Finance Minister is in anyway saying that Ghana is out of the woods, but only recounting the steps to put back the smiles on the faces of the people. Perhaps, the forgetfulness disease that John Mahama spoke about some time ago is real and many Ghanaians unfortunately suffer from it, and do not remember what the government did to protect lives during COVID-19.
Government paid public sector workers while they stayed at home, the people enjoyed free water and electricity, free food for the vulnerable and free vaccines and treatment for those who were afflicted by the global pandemic.
At the same time, all borders were closed and for which government revenue declined considerably. In the circumstances, how was the government going to raise the revenue to undertake development projects?