Parliament yesterday began the debate on the budget statement and economic policy of the government of Ghana for the 2009 financial year, which was presented to the House last Thursday, March 5, by the Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor.
Contributing to the motion Hon. Moses Asaga, Member of Parliament (MP) for Nabdam, observed that government has inherited a challenging budget but is determined to fix the shattered economy and is cutting down on domestic borrowing.
He noted that the government is committed to improving the lives of Ghanaians, adding that as proposed in the Better Ghana Budget, the Mills' government will do all it can in making this a reality.
Minister for Communications, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, who touched on the communication sector said that teledensity has increased but it is mainly urban based but government is committed to extending fixed telephony to the rural areas.
He noted that the Ministry will facilitate the development of a business and performance-based framework to support cross-agency collaboration to enhance a vibrant e-government service delivery.
NDC member for Biakoye, Hon. Emmanuel Bandua, urged government to develop a plan to deal with bumper harvest and create more market avenues for farmers to sell their produce to avoid wastage.
He said just as the Ghana Food Distribution Corporation in the past was a ready market for some farmers to sell their produce, a system should be developed to sustain the agricultural sector by helping farmers deal with buffer stocks
Hon Joe Ghartey, former Attorney-General, and Minister for justice in his contribution called on the Minister for Finance to reduce corporate tax to 15 per cent in order to enable the private sector to grow and thus create employment.
According to him since the Government has promised to partner the private sector, it will be important to formulate programmes and reduce corporate tax, from the current 25 per cent to 'free money' for the private sector.
He said 'The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government was able to reduce corporate tax from 35 per cent to the current 25 per cent so this government should further bring it down to 15 per cent.'
He also said the increase in airport tax will go a long way to raise the cost of doing business in Ghana and prevent the growth of investment adding that there is the need to increase expenditure in the public sector just like it is being done by the current US government in the form of the 'stimulus package' to salvage its economy.
The former Minister said at the time the stock exchange all over the world was falling, Ghana gained a remarkable 58 per cent growth by the end of 2008, but with the current dissolution of the Security and Exchange Commission, the trend is beginning to go down because the stock is no more being regulated.
NPP member for Atwima-Kwanoma, Dr Kojo Appiah-Kubi, who touched on poverty, said government should not put itself out as an agent of poverty reduction but must be seen as a facilitator of the process by empowering and assisting the private sector and individuals for job creation and the growth of the economy.
Earlier the Airport Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2009, expected to review airport taxes in line with this year's budget was taken through the First Reading.
The expected increase of the tax, fixed at 50.00 dollars to be adjusted to 75.00 dollars, is part of some revenue enhancement measures and it is to ensure the provision of increased security services of the airport in the context of the current global security risk faced at international airports all over the world.