The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has predicted a bleak economic outlook for Ghana in the year 2020 following what it says was an unconvincing budget statement and economic policy presented to Parliament by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta on November 13, 2019.
The NDC stated its position on the budget at a Public Forum held Wednesday, November 20, 2019 in Accra.
The forum was addressed by three speakers, namely; the Member of Parliament for the Ketu South constituency and former Minister for Transport, Mr Fifi Kwetey; Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, member of Parliament for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam constituency in the Central Region and Mr Isaac Adongo, MP for Bolgatanga Central constituency in the Upper East Region and a member of the Finance Committee of Parliament.
'Lazy NPP' still blaming predecessors for economic woes
In his remarks, Mr Kwetey said the President Akufo-Addo-led NPP administration inherited a strong economy from the NDC which was buoyed by the discovery of two additional oil fields.
Additionally, he stated that an energy crisis that had plagued the economy prior to the elections was also resolved by the NDC before the reigns of power changed hands.
The Ketu South MP said he was therefore puzzled that the NPP keeps on lamenting to Ghanaians that it inherited a weak economy.
“The government that has had the most solid economic legacy is the Nana Akufo-Addo government, so, for them to actually claim that they have inherited the greatest crisis is really a big surprise," Mr Kwetey said.
“It is only an irresponsible, incompetent, lazy group of people who will blame their predecessors. We [Ghana] would have been in the high heavens if we in the NDC inherited these legacies.
“John Mahama handed over to them two massive oil fields. In 2016, oil production was about 87,000 barrels a day and today we are talking about almost 200,000 barrels a day.
“You have these handed over to you, yet you said you have inherited an economic mess. Meanwhile, your own GDP, today, is on the basis of those two oil fields that have been handed over to you. Since the 1980s, we have always known that every three or so years, we go through an energy crisis".
Mr Kwetey said he found it hypocritical that the NPP was blaming Ghana's mounting debts on the depreciation of the cedi.
“…These are people who claim they are the best managers of the economy and the cedi has performed wonderfully under them, yet when you point to the high debt, they tell you it is because of the depreciation of the currency.
“Double-talkers; lack of credibility, lack of trustworthiness and you can’t build an economy when you do not have credibility, you don’t have trustworthiness”, Mr Kwetey said.
Ghanaians being plunged into poverty
According to Mr Ato Forson, the Ranking Member of Parliament’s Finance Committee, the government has taken GH¢27,197,666,951 from the pockets of Ghanaians through taxes, levies and price hikes since coming into office in 2017.
He said the hardship Ghanaians have been plunged into makes insignificant the GH¢12.2 billion the Finance Minister claims to have placed in the pockets of Ghanaians within the period.
Providing a breakdown of the losses Ghanaians have suffered under the NPP administration, Mr Ato Forson said GH¢2,600,388,891 had been lost due to the decoupling of National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) component of VAT, GH¢60,686,352 to the Luxury Vehicle Tax and GH¢107,191,919 to the Communication Service Tax.
Additionally, he stated that Ghanaians have lost a combined GHS436,629,512 to the increase in the Energy Sector Levy Act (ESLA), GH¢9,000,000,000 to utility price increases, GH1¢3,671,344,589 to fuel price increases and GH¢1,000,000,000 to the increase in transport fares.
“When the increase in taxes are included in the scenario, the government took GH¢27.2 billion on the average from our pocket between January 2017 and August 2019”, Mr Ato Forson said.
Mr Adongo alleged that the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta had brought chaos to Ghana's financial sector by appointing former employees of Databank and the Enterprise Group to sensitive regulatory bodies such as the Bank of Ghana and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He said the appointees had succeeded in a vindictive ploy to hound out Ghanaians from the financial sector through the revocation of the licences of some financial institutions.
“After revoking the licenses, they then set out to do a PR job. They informed everybody that after they had revoked the license, they can go to the CBG branches to fill the forms and collect their monies. That is the biggest lie of the century. Lawyers will tell you that six hours after the licenses have been revoked, it ends there and they only report it to the Registrar General to undertake the rest of the processes for the court to appoint an official liquidator. So they can’t even access the system let alone validate anybody to pay their claims.”
“SEC says they are apologizing. They are not apologizing; they are just buying time because there is no money”, he added.