Gruelling debate heralds budget approval in Parliament
Parliament has approved the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government after a gruelling concluding debate between the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu.
The two leaders argued on the issue of which political party was the better manager of the economy in government.
Mr Iddrisu, who was winding up the two-week debate for the Minority, said the government had failed to achieve its economic targets, while the 2019 Budget was anchored on borrowing.
He gave an indication that the Minority would not support any budget allocation to the Ministry of Special Initiatives, since it had taken over the work of district assemblies, development authorities and some ministries.
Taking his turn, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu insisted that the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government mismanaged the economy, which manifested in the abysmal growth in the gross domestic product (GDP).
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He said only two years into the government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the economy had picked up, with improved GDP growth, a reduction in the rate of inflation and the budget deficit.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, presented the 2019 Budget in Parliament on November 15, 2018.
Mr Iddrisu, who is the NDC MP for Tamale South, said the NPP had promised in its 2016 Budget that it would pay nurses and teachers allowances.
However, he said, since coming into office, those allowances had been in arrears, while contractors had not been paid.
"This is a government that accumulates arrears and praises itself for being prudent," he said.
Mr Iddrisu said the erstwhile NDC government recorded GDP growth of 11.4 per cent in 2011.
However, he said, the NPP government was still recording a single digit GDP growth, despite revenue from the oil and gas sector.
He called for increased funding for the Electoral Commission (EC) to build a more robust data system and also get prepared for the conduct of district assembly elections, the referendum on the creation of new regions and the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
Winding up for the Majority in Parliament, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the erstwhile NDC government performed poorly in its management of the economy.
He said only two years in government, the NPP had proved its mettle in managing the economy, which had manifested in the increase in GDP growth, the reduction in inflation and budget deficit, among others.
He said the Minority were only putting out manufactured figures to suggest that the economy was doing badly.
"We are better managers of the economy. The figures speak for themselves. There is no basis for comparison between the two governments," he said.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is the NPP MP for Suame, expressed surprise at the fact that despite the poor performance of the NDC government, its members were urging Ghanaians to vote it back into power.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the NDC government put out figures on job creation which turned to be false.
He said the NPP government had so far created many real jobs, including the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo).
The 2019 budget has overall GDP growth target of 7.6 per cent, non-oil real GDP growth of 6.2 per cent, end-period inflation of eight per cent, fiscal deficit of 4.2 per cent, primary surplus of 1.2 per cent and gross international reserves of three and a half months of imports.