Parliament Continues Debate On Prez Akufo-Addo’s SONA

Parliament on Friday continued with the debate on President Akufo-Addo’s message on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) he presented to the House on March 30, 2022.

While contributions from the Majority Caucus lauded the President and his government for the strong and bold leadership in transforming the economy, the Minority side accused the government of failing to protect Ghanaians from the current economic hardships.

Mr Moses Anim, Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture who took his turn on the floor praised President Akufo-Addo for his transformational leadership which salvaged the economy from its doldrums when assuming office in 2017.

He said despite the huge economic challenges that the President inherited he did not resign himself to complaining but worked to fix the economic difficulties.

“Mr Speaker at the end of 2019 we all knew the status of the economy that the President had brought from the worst situation at end of 2016 to the end of 2019,” he said.

Mr Anim also stated that as a result of the pragmatic measures taken by government the economy at the end of 2019 grew on average by seven percent, reducing the fiscal deficit to 4.5 percent and the banks which were in difficulty saw some appreciable growth.

He said the government was able to roll out its Free Senior School (SHS) policy in addition to providing teacher trainee and nursing allowance among others because the economy was effectively managed by the government and resilient to accommodate the new programmes.

“Mr Speaker before the COVID struck, we were being touted by the IMF and the World Bank and that where Ghana is now is about to leapfrog” he added.

However, Mr Kwabina Mintah Akandor, Ranking Member on Health in his contribution accused the President of providing wrong figures in terms of the COVID expenditures to the House.

He said President informed the House that GH17.7 billion has been spent to contain the pandemic up till 2022 but disputed the claim saying records from the 2021 and 2022 budgets show that GH20.7 was spent on COVID.

He said, “Mr Speaker, with all these expenditures we could not even install simple equipment at the Kotoka International Airport to do antigen test…as I speak to you now, there are frontline health workers that we are still owing in this country”.

Mr Akandor also alleged that for the past two months the service providers of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) have threatened to withdraw their services if monies owed them are not paid.

He said citizens are complaining that anytime they go to these facilities they are made to pay money and buy their own drugs even though they are carrying the NHIS card.

Mr Speaker, the NHIS is the main health finance scheme in the country and the President did not touch on it, I now understand why he did not touch on it” he added.