Approving budget does not mean we support Gov’t’s decision-Minority
The Minority side of the 7th Parliament have dissociated themselves from government’s plan of misleading the country into a ditch of bankruptcy, with their overbearing and exaggerated policies in their 2017 budget statement.
Pouring out their grievances during the approval of the 419 budget as described by the Minority, they expressed disappointment and worry in most of its allocations.
The budget which seek to abolish almost half of the country’s revenue and taxes, for more than a month, became a subject of discussion in both the media and the law making house, which went through all the requisite procedures for its approval.
Taking a swift look at commentaries made on this budget before it approval, it is so undoubtedly that, the Minority did not agree with government’s decision on many of the budget allocations and other related expenses.
“Just like telling the Hebrews and the Israelis that you know what, I’m not party to this but if you insist, I deliver Christ to you. Whatever you wish to do with him, you are free to do so, but my conscience is at peace. I’m not guilty, but you are”. This was the exact picture and reactions the Minority portrayed in the approval of the 2017 budget.
When Newslinegh.com interacted with the Minority Caucus in Parliament, many took a swipe on how most of the country’s fund will be misuse in terms of its allocation.
In an interview with Newslinegh on their take on the approved budget, the Odododiodioo Constituency Member of Parliament, Hon. Nii Lante Vanderpuye expressed dissatisfaction on the budget, he said, even though the budget has been approved, the Minority still feels jilted and deceived.
“The fact that we approved the budget does not mean we agree to it. Sometimes, circumstance might require you to take decisions you don’t intend to make. So if you saw the Minority participating actively in the passing of the budget, that obviously does not mean we side with government plan to collapse the country”. Hon. Nii Lante emphasized.
“We were only being citizens by tolerating their actions, but will never be spectators in their well calculated move, after all, they promised Ghanaians a Lean Government during their campaign trail, and ended up giving them an elephant size government”.
“And since the Minority are not so selfish and devious as our detractors, we had no intention of sabotaging their government by challenging the budget. Though, their actions seem a bit dubious to us”. He disclosed.
Listening to some of the comments made by the Minority, there’s an obvious indication that, they never shared opinions with the Majority in regards to budget allocations and most of the Ministerial appointments.
But the big question is, why did they watch Parliament to approve the budget?
Well, let’s take a quick look at some of the comments coming from the Minority side of Parliament within the time of the budget presentation and its approval.
- Hon. Muntaka Mubarak on the size of Nana Addo’s government.
On the huge size of government, the Member of Parliament for the Asawase constituency and a Minority Whip, Hon. Muntaka Mubarak also condemned the unprecedented size of the current government by crossing the usual size of the previous governments, which the NPP claimed to even cut down when elected, saying this is a clear indication that most of these promises of the NPP was all political gimmicks.
“We are crossing the 90marks, let’s take a look at Former President Rawlings government, Former President Kuffour’s government, let’s take that of the late President Mills and even our recent Former President John Mahama’s government, obviously President Akufo-Addo has the biggest size of government in all and it’s so embarrassing that a Minister of State at the office of the President also has a deputy. I think this is the most ridiculous”. He stated.
“As if the Twenty-two (22) Ministers are not enough, they kept adding on as if it is just some game of “Chaskeleke”. they just keep passing”.
“I’m not doubting the capabilities of any colleague that was nominated, but the size is simply unworthy, it is just too unworthy which cannot bring productivity. It is a recipe for chaos and confusions, people will struggling for term, some will be battling for superiority. I don’t know what has come over them and I think this is totally wrong”. Hon. Muntaka emphasized.
According to him, the NPP government have just swept all the committee chairpersons just to weaken oversight and blames the President on that.
We have to now restart it all over again, He said. With the greatest respect, I’m not saying that those left behind are not competent, but if he has taken all the crew, then he’s only leaving the house with first timers. People who are really not very experienced to chair committees and expect Parliament to be stronger?”.
Well it is early though, let’s just see what the NPP government has for Ghanaians, but we are still disappointed with the size of Nana Addo’s government.
- Hon. Haruna Iddrisu on the source of funding for “Free SHS in the budget.
The Member of Parliament for Tamale South constituency, also the Minority Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, also challenged Government to come clean on funding for his free SHS policy.
In relations to a suggestion from the Senior Minister, Nana Yaw Osafo-Marfo that government would consider reviewing the Petroleum Revenue Management Act to allow for the use of the Heritage Fund to finance the free SHS policy.
But the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta refuted the suggestion, saying government would be financing the free SHS policy without touching the Heritage Fund which is said to have under $300 million in it.
The minority in a statement signed by its Deputy Leader, said the contradictions were an indication of confusion within the government hence its call to President Akufo-Addo to expatiate further.
“The statements of these two ministers clearly show there is total confusion in the new administration as to how their campaign promises will be funded. It is therefore not clear which of these two top minster of the NPP government is speaking the truth.”
“The Minority is, therefore, calling on his Excellency the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to come out and clarify the true position of his government. The minority wants him to tell Ghanaians whether his government will use or not use the Heritage fund for the SHS education.”
- Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa’s take on the GH¢1.5billion budgetary allocation to the office of the President.
In regards to the GH¢1.5billion budgetary allocation to the Office of the President for its expenses in 2017, the Member of Parliament for the North Tongu constituency, Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa said, the money earmarked for the use of government machinery was far in excess of 100% of what was previously allocated.
According to him, the money allocated for the use of that office would be to the detriment of other key sectors of the economy that need only a fraction of that amount.
“A whopping allocation of about GH¢1.5billion, which is the highest ever in the history of this country, has been made to the office of government machinery and I’ve done full analysis on this and can state emphatically that this is an unprecedented allocation, an elephantine allocation, a gigantic allocation in excess of GH¢1.5billion, while all these cuts are taking place”.
To put this in perspective, in 2012 the office of government machinery was allocated only GH¢236million, in 2013 it was only GH¢312million, in 2014, the allocation was just GH¢326million, whiles 2015 had only GH¢453million.
“And if you combine all those years, you will only get just about GH¢1.3billion, which doesn’t come close to the GH¢1.5billion that has been allocated to the office of government machinery, which is unacceptable on the part of a taxpayer and the ordinary Ghanaians”. He emphasized.
- Hon. Cassiel Ato Forson also on the abolishing of duties on importation of spare parts in the 2017 budget.
The Member of Parliament for the Ajumako Enyan Essiam constituency, Hon. Cassiel Ato Forson also said, the budget does not fit into the country’s medium term objectives and will lead the country into a ditch.
“This budget is very deceptive, it is populist, it does not preserve the medium term objectives of this country. I’ll say that Ghanaians should brace for a difficult medium term ahead of us.
The minister said he was going to abolish the special petroleum tax; but he was quick to say that he was going to abolish the 1% of the component of the special petroleum tax, so he is not going to abolish the special petroleum tax per say. Since it is of two categories, 1% and 2%.”Cassiel Ato Forson lamented.
“Now go to Abossey Okai today, we did a research on them some time ago, and in excess of 80% of what they sell are over-age vehicles. What you are doing is that, you are encouraging over-aged vehicles, the emission rate is going to go up, and the health hazards are there. Ghana is continuously going to be a dumping ground, so I think it is not well-thought through”.
This is what the former Minister said in regards to the abolishing of duties on importation of spare parts.
- Finally, Hon Fiifi Kwetey also gave reasons why the budget got approved by Parliament, though there were inconsistencies in the budget
Hon. Fiifi Kwetey, Member of Parliament for Ketu South Constituency, also bemoaned the act of inconsistency of government policies in relations to the 1% reduction on import levies, the Free SHS policy and their unfulfilled flagship promises in the budget, describing it as a trick to pursue Ghanaians in their manipulative games.
“We had lots of concerns in the budget and some of those concerns we raised are starting to manifest, for example the major promises made by the NPP government has not even been done, even though they try to sprinkle a few just to make people believe that somehow they are honoring their promises, but the truth will even unravel more and Ghanaians will realize that this government has not started on the path of truth”.
“Even on the Free SHS policy where they promised of making it free for everybody, and now they have smuggled gradually by saying it is only going to be free for the entry pupils, which is already a deception for the parents whose ward is already in school. They are going to be disappointed somehow”. Hon. Fiifi Kwetey stated.
According to him, Government did the same with import levies where they said the levies were going to be removed completely. But what they did was to take just 1% and kept the major one which is the 2%, so the pain is still there.
“Also with the taxes on spare parts they claimed to have removed, now it’s came up that they have not even done a proper check to find out that, there’s no way they could have remove the taxes, without having consult the Ecowas tariffs system. So that has also been another lie the NPP government has told to Ghanaians”.
“We cannot paralyze the country by refusing to approve the budget, because every institutions, every local assembly , district assemblies, hospitals, vulnerable institutions are all depending on this budget to start their projects.
But what we can do as Minority is to raise some of these concerns and hope that, other countries are informed of this palpable deceit in other for them to put greater pressure on this government for them to be much more truthful”.
“Though we are not expecting perfection because they are all human, yet we hope that the country as whole will soberly and dispassionately intrude in most of the concerns that we’ve made and realize the true nature and character of the government they entrusted their hopes on”.
Because you can’t simply pursue power and totally forget about the basic principles of truth and honesty to the people you serve. He added.
By: Blessing Roselyn Boateng