We Had To Do Whatever Was Necessary To Ensure Success In An Election Year - Fifi Kwetey

For the first time since the controversial GH₵8.7bn excess expenditure in 2012, incurred by the Government of President John Dramani Mahama, was broached by the opposition New Patriotic Party and confirmed by the Bank of Ghana, a Minister of State has owned up that the whopping amount was blown buying the votes of hapless Ghanaians. According to the Bank of Ghana, the government ran a GH₵8.7 billion, equivalent to US $5 billion, deficit in public finance in 2012, amounting to 12.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product, using the rebased GDP members. That huge expenditure is referred to by contemporary economic historians as the highest recorded in the Politico-economic history of this country. When this was put to Mr. Fifi Fiavi Franklin Kwetey, Minister of State in charge of Allied and Financial Institutions, at the news analysis programme News file on radio and television, at the weekend, his response was that the government had to do whatever was necessary to ensure success in an election year. “We (NDC Government) needed to do what we needed to do politically … some of them … not to raise taxes on petroleum prices in an election year”. He told his bewildered audience that the political reality was that no government had ever raised petroleum prices in an election year. “When in an election year, did you hear any government increase taxes?” he queried. Mr. Kwetey, who, as deputy to Mr. Kwabena Duffuor at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, was commuting to London at public expense to study regularly, argued that the government also needed to pay huge wages under the Single Spine Salary Structure. His explanation, according to economics with insight into state finance, begged the question on profligate expenditure in an election year, that saw chiefs being given four wheel-drives freely, and university students benefiting from donations of other vehicles. The sudden discovery that each Ghanaian child needed a lap-top computer, and flagged as a government policy under the lap-top–per child programme’ on the eve of the elections, cost the nation hundreds of millions of Ghana Cedis. Ghanaian were also told that on the eve of the elections, GH₵33 million and GH₵15 million went into afforestation and genuine fowl rearing projects. Confronted with these expenditure, Mr. Fifi Kwetey described them as inconsequential expenditures, compared to the larger figure Ominously, the Minister said Ghanaians could not expect the Government to provide good roads and provide important amenities without raising taxes or borrowing to find these initiatives. Ghana, Mr. Kwetey pontificated, need to dump the mindset that “everything must be cheap.” Ghanaians must not complain when taxes were increased to fund important projects,” he stated. On another platform, Mr. Kwetey said public sector wage demand in 2012 was “totally different wage arrangement.” The nature of the change, he claimed, was structural. “It is because of the month to month payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions, and even the opposition NPP would face this challenge if they were in power.” Mr. Kwetey, former National Propaganda Secretary of the NDC, who pilloried the Kufuor administration over taxes and high cost of living, told Ghanaians that “that situation where it is created that everything must be cheap, government cannot tax, meanwhile, the people expect more expenditure, they expect roads, they expect better wages, we must expect are gone.” He tore through the NPP analysis of the economy as in tatters, claiming that the view was “petty, childish, and politically jaundiced.”