Empty Budget Statement — Minority

Budget - Rapid News GH

The government’s Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the 2024 fiscal year have been dubbed a “true definition of an empty budget” by the Minority in Parliament.

According to the statement, the budget was “cruel, insensitive, and out of touch” with the realities faced by the average Ghanaian and businesses, who would choose to face greater hardships and “suffocating taxes.”

The members of the economic management team, headed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, were accused by the Minority of abandoning a bankrupt economy.

“We must acknowledge that this administration is departing from a default economy, a heavily indebted budget, an excessively taxed economy that has experienced hyperinflation, elevated food inflation, and a high rate of monetary policy,” the statement read.

Massive bribery

In response to the minister of finance’s presentation of the “Nkunim” budget statement on the floor of Parliament yesterday, Minority Leader Dr Cassiel Ato Forson said, “As if that is not enough, this government is leaving behind an economy with a high lending rate, a high unemployment rate, and a misery-indexed economy never witnessed in this Fourth Republic.”

“Mr. Speaker, they are also leaving behind an economy rife with massive and unchecked corruption,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference said.

“This is the legacy they are leaving behind,” he explained.

More oppressive taxes

Dr. Ato Forson stated that due to inadequate economic management, the finance minister went to Parliament to read the budget alone.

He questioned why he was not accompanied to Parliament by the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, or the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison.

“However, they cannot abandon you; you did it with them, and as a result, they are faces of destruction, and you are a part of it.” “Goodbye, Mr. Minister, and goodbye, NPP, because this is your scorecard,” he remarked.

During a news conference, Dr. Ato Forson criticized the finance minister of introducing additional “suffocating” tax items in the budget.

He mentioned the implementation of GH11 billion in taxes, including an environmental excise tax on plastic products and packaging, the emission levy, a new tax on industry and automotive emissions, and increased stamp duty.

“They have also informed us that they intend to change the tax regime, which includes raising the informal income tax and introducing a new VAT flat rate to cover commercial properties, among other things.”

NDC’s worst performance

Responding, the Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, told the House that the Minority Leader was a deputy minister of finance when the economy was in its worst state under the previous regime.

He said it was the same Dr. Ato Forson and his boss, the former finance minister, and their government, who, without a COVID-19 pandemic, could not implement the Free Senior High School program.

“Today, this government has implemented the Free SHS successfully, and the figures bear us up as we have a transitioned enrolment rate of over 80 percent as compared to 55 percent during your era.

“And today because of the liberty of opposition, you are telling the honorable finance minister that he has underperformed when your own administration has the worst performance,” he said.

He said the previous government could not implement a single landing beach project, recollecting how the NDC government came to Parliament with a loan and later chickened out and resorted to capping.

“This government heard the cries of fishermen and we have constructed 12 landing beach sites,” he said, citing how the current government, which inherited ‘dumsor’, had reversed the challenge.

Meanwhile, the usual cacophony that climaxes the presentation of the annual budget, was in full display yesterday when the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, appeared before Parliament with the government’s Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the 2024 financial year.

With ceaseless chants from both sides of the political divide, amid the display of various inscriptions, members of the house gleefully registered their approval or disapproval of the budget.

The messages of the minority, among others, read: “family and friends budget, and corruption budget.”

The majority also displayed ‘Nkunim’ (victory) budget, and budget for progress and prosperity, among others.

The noise became deafening each time either side raised a new song.

After about five minutes of merry-making, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, stepped in to restore order and allow proceedings to resume.

Prior to the drama, the House was quiet as some MPs were seen sleeping or chatting among themselves.

After the finance minister’s presentation, the House came alive again when the Speaker asked the leaders of the two sides to make brief remarks.

However, the rise of Afenyo-Markin was met with shouts of: “We want Kyei, we want Kyei,” by the minority side.

The protest was in an apparent reference to the

Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, instead of Afenyo-Markin.

But Afenyo-Markin ignored them and went ahead to launch a personal attack on Dr Ato Forson, compelling the Speaker to call him to order.

Eventually, the Speaker adjourned sitting to today for debate on the budget statement to begin.

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