SOME MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) have cautioned government to resist the temptation of presenting a “people-pleasing” budget tomorrow as a political gimmick to win next year's general elections.
They noted that since 2008 would be an election year, there was the tendency that government might come out with a financial policy statement which would not reflect the reality on the ground.
The MPs, who spoke to DAILY GUIDE in Parliament House yesterday, included the Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Suame, Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, who asked government to focus on its achievements and consolidate the gains made rather than setting new huge targets which could not be met.
“We should guard against that. We shouldn't be lured by the trappings of the elections to make promises that we cannot deliver on.
“We should be realistic and careful about how we manipulate the economy in order to achieve our targets,” he stated.
According to him, it would be “worthwhile if we get a growth rate of 6-7 per cent”.
He went on that since energy was the pivot around which every economy revolved, it would be better if government concentrated so much attention on the energy sector, given the energy crisis the nation went through and the unprecedented rising cost of oil on the world market.
Hon. Bonsu was of the view that even though the nation had made some remarkable economic strides, “we should not over exaggerate gains but do well to co-ordinate things well to move ahead. In view of the lapses in the energy sector, let's see how we can get it right to provide the necessary fulcrum of development.
“Notwithstanding these lapses, government should do well to devise ways of stabilizing the economy and build upon it.”
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Samuel Sallas-Mensah, said since 2008 would be an election year; the budget was likely to focus on infrastructure and other things that would win votes for the ruling party.
According to him, though that trend was not supposed to be the case, there was basically nothing wrong with it if the programmes fell within the general development vision and budgetary expectations of the nation.
For his part, Dr. Kwame Ampofo of South Dayi expected the budget to move the country forward along the lines of all the necessary economic indices.
He also called for more attention to be placed on the energy sector to prevent the nation from experiencing the problems it went through during the energy crisis.
He acknowledged the fact that government could not do much about the rising cost of crude oil, currently about 97 dollars per barrel, on the world market.
“Notwithstanding that, there still was much for government to do on the domestic front. At the social level, there should be an air of relief so that if government says the economy is doing well, people should experience it in their pockets,” Dr. Ampofo remarked.
The MP for Abokobi/Madina, Alhaji Amadu Sorogho, did not expect anything new about the budget as “they will try as much as possible not to do things that will affect their popularity which is already down.
“I foresee that they will say GDP is better. And Ghanaians should determine this or otherwise by their purchasing power.”
Alhaji Sorogho projected that the budget was likely to sing the praises of government in areas such as the National Youth Employment Programme, National Health Insurance Scheme and road infrastructure.
He, however, gave the assurance that the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC), of which he is a member, would continue to scrutinize anything that would be brought so that the nation would in the end have only the best.
“I don't foresee any new thing,” he concluded.
Alhaji Alidu Iddrisu Zakari of Walewale expected the 2008 budget to concentrate on the private sector and be given some relief in taxes as well.
The influx of foreigners in the nation's mercantile activities was of equal concern to the Walewale MP, who called for a review of the one million cedis deposit foreigners paid before operating in the nation.
According to him, since the money was too small, a few individuals could even put it together so as to get the chance to start operating.
That, to some extent, was the cause of the several “419” cases witnessed in the country nowadays, he observed.
By Sylvanus Nana Kumi