MPs debate 2013 budget

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Debate on the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government continued in earnest in Parliament Wednesday, with the Minority side describing it as a “hopeless document” and the Majority defining it as a document which largely addressed the problems facing the country.

As is usual with such debates in the House, there was heckling, calls on the Speaker to intervene and compel a member to withdraw a statement made and some amount of disorderly conduct.

The member for Afadjato South, Mr Joseph Zaphenat Amenowode (NDC), said the budget had dealt adequately with the problem of jobs for the youth and made provision for skills training for them.

He noted that many Ghanaian youth failed to secure jobs because they lacked the skills required by employers and added that the document had sought to address the problem by initiating programmes to equip them with skills.

The member for Obuasi West, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng (NPP), said 8Gp was charged per litre of petrol as Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Debt Recovery Levy (TDRL) and wondered why, in the budget, the government had stated that the amount accruing to the government for 2012 was GHc0.

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He said by his own calculation, the government should have bagged not less than GHc245 million and said the issue needed to be investigated.

“Where is the money?” he asked.

Mr Kwarteng said on page 276 of the budget statement, it had been suggested that no profit accrued to the state last year, yet on another page, it had been stated that the Hedge Fund programme had been successful.

“How can the Hedge Fund programme be successful and yet record GHc0. You cannot say something is successful and yet have nothing to show for it,” he said.

The Member for Pusiga, Ms Laadi Ayii Ayamba (NDC), said the increase in the capitation grant to schools as captured in the budget was a step in the right direction.

The move, in her view, would increase enrolment in schools, especially in the northern part of Ghana where enrolment was low.

The Member for Assin South, Prof Dominic Fobih (NPP), said the government had failed to recruit qualified teachers for basic schools and craft any policy in that direction in the budget.

He noted that many of the teachers recruited to teach in basic schools in the past few years lacked the requisite training and said it was no surprise that results of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in recent times had been poor, especially in the rural areas.

He said the colleges of education which were in existence could admit more trainee teachers and added that there was no need to build 10 new colleges when the existing number could admit more.

The Member for Bekwai, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu (NPP), noted that good governance was an essential part of sustainable development and yet it had not been given much prominence.

He was of the opinion that the anti-corruption agencies in the country had not been well resourced, a situation which was not in the national interest.

“In our society today, corruption has become endemic and we need to strengthen the anti-corruption institutions if we are to win the fight against corruption,” he said.

The member for Odododiodoo, Nii Lante Vanderpuye (NDC), said the budget had dealt adequately with issues relating to improvement of sports infrastructure.

The budget, in his opinion, made provision for the development of other sports apart from football.

Story by Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah & Mark-Anthony Vinorkor