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Minority accuses govt of increasing debt burden

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson

The Minority in Parliament has accused the government of increasing the country's debt burden and using the money for consumption instead of capital expenditure or infrastructure development.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, said the government met a debt of GH₵120 billion and had added GH¢80 billion bringing the total debt to GH¢200 billion.

"You can do all the propaganda about the cosmetic fiscal deficit numbers, but republic debt will show your smoothness level", he said.

In the company of the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr James Avedzi, the MP for Adaklu, Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza, and a member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Mr Fifi Kwetey, among others.  Mr Forson, who is the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, said the Minority Caucus had noted the latest report of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and taken notice of the current national debt which stood at almost GH¢200 billion as of the end of the first quarter of 2019.

"The GH¢200 billion national debt represents an increase of about GH₵80 billion in the last two and half years alone by President Akufo-Addo and has raised the debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio from 56 per cent in 2016 to almost 58 per cent," he said.

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Promises

Mr Forson said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) while in opposition had promised not to borrow, and indicated that the NPP in government had benefited from a 25 per cent bonus or increase in GDP due to the rebasing exercise.
Again, he said the government inherited two additional oil fields (Sankofa and TEIN) that had almost tripled output and at an average of 60 per cent price increase.

Mr Forson said at current exchange rate levels, borrowing alone had given President Akufo-Addo a staggering USD$16 billion over the period.

He said the figure did not include the GH¢5.7 billion borrowed under the ESLA Bonds last year.

Mr Forson said as reported by Bloomberg last week, Ghana’s current public debt was the highest in four years and made Ghana one of the countries with the greatest debt distress risks in the world.

Surprisingly, he said, "this is a government that has benefited more in terms of oil revenues received since 2017."

Worrying signals

Mr Forson said the Minority Caucus was deeply concerned about the reckless borrowing of the NPP government, and demanded an accountability.

"This extent of borrowing marks a betrayal of the trust reposed in the President after he and his then Vice-Presidential candidate promised in opposition not to borrow because according to them, we had all the resources needed to finance our development.

"Not only has the President’s insatiable appetite for borrowing exposed that promise as hollow, it also shows that he and his team do not possess the competence they claimed to have to generate domestic revenue to finance the national budget.

"It is even more worrying that despite this unprecedented level of borrowing, President Akufo-Addo does not have any significant capital investments to show, unlike his predecessor, President Mahama, who invested borrowed funds in major capital investments across all sectors of the economy from education, health, housing, roads, railways, energy, communications, aviation, transport among others," he said.

Spending on consumption

Mr Forson said almost all major projects that were currently ongoing were those for which funding was secured under President Mahama or had begun under him.