The Caucus for Democratic Governance, Ghana (CDG-GH) sees the budget as a joke, instigated by Nana Addo in his last term in office. A set of policies and programs that seeks to worsen the plight of the ordinary people.
The imposition of more taxes on the suffering masses, will only collapse small businesses and make nonsense all the incentives for economic growth.
It will also increase unemployment and drive desperate citizens into criminality. Any attempt to resuscitate the collapsing economy should begin with a reduction in taxes, restriction on imports, and the introduction of Luxury tax.
An economy which was sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in March 2020, after massive borrowing, should reduce expenditure and increase productivity to incite recovery. Sadly our targeted expenditure of over 10 billion is too high. Increases in taxes and price regime - a wrong approach- expose the incompetence of Akufo Addo and his infantile structural adjustment program.
Indeed the next four years is bound to be a period of severe hardship, characterized by corruption, deceit and lies in government circles; during which Ghanaians have nothing to expect but suffering and unemployment.
It is interesting to note that Akufo Addo before the election had enough money for COVID-19. Post election however sees Ghanaians paying back these monies. We now face COVID-19 levies; 5.7% increases in petroleum price; 10p taxes to keep Ghana clean ; increases in NHIS, VAT and road tolls among others. With these new taxes the grass roots and unemployed will have to tighten their belts while the corrupt rich clan members explode in wealth.
Before the budget, Ghanaians were struggling with high rice, plantain, tomatoes, maize (kenkey), fuel, transport and imported goods prices. The national debt of 291.6 billion ghc (155 billion of which Akufo Addo alone borrowed in his first term), now tightens the financial space. With our debt ratio to GDP at 76.1%, negotiation for a loan becomes highly difficult.
The shortfall in the economy is expected to be GHC9.5 billion. The national revenue of about 45 billion has decreased heavily, such that we are forced to use 5.9 billion ghc of our borrowed money to pay the interest rate of our debt. In spite of these threatening financial parameters, the usual “never to be fulfilled promises” was not left out of the budget. Promises such as : massive road projects; tax rebate for businesses, revamping of the railway system and expansion of digital space, are juicy promises that cannot be fulfilled because we have no money.
Promises given by Nana Addo in 2016 show that promises are not realities. They are often meant to deceive us and get us to vote. Just as the President failed to build the badly needed 135 SHS during the free SHS crises ; just as he failed to build the promised 88 hospitals during COVID-19; he will in much the same way not have the funds to carry out the new promises to Ghanaians. We are in hard times.
Dr E.K. Hayford
Executive Director, CDG-GH