Hon Joe Ghartey THE MEMBER of Parliament for Esikadu/Ketan, Joe Ghartey, says the fiscal policy of President John Evans Atta Mills' administration for this year is a vindication of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) eight years of good economic management.
He cited phrases from the budget such as “We will rebuild” and “We will continue most of the policies of NPP,” as a total vindication of how the economy was resilient and strong under the NPP.
Contributing to the debate for the 2009 budget on the Floor of Parliament yesterday, Hon. Ghartey said the budget contains nothing new, since according to him the current administration relied on the good policies of NPP. “Where is the change after deceiving the people to vote for you,” he wondered.
The MP opined that the budget recognized the fact that the global financial crisis and the credit crunch are expected to impact the Ghanaian economy in a number of ways, but woefully failed to mention any response to these global challenges, citing that the US has developed a rescue plan to address some its global challenges.
He lamented the Cooperate Tax situation which the NPP reduced from 35 to 25 percent and challenged the Minister of Finance to ensure a further reduction from 25 to 15 percent. According to him, the reduction would enable the private sector to generate more money to expand and also create more employment for the economy.
On the school feeding programme, which was a commitment from the NPP government that every child in school would have a midday meal, the MP said the out look for the 2009 budget was completely silent on the programme but rather deals with free exercise books and free uniforms among others.
In his submission the Minister for Communication and MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu said the 2009 budget was not only vigorously designed but comprehensive, adding that any careful study of the budget leads to the conclusion that it as indeed a better budget for a better Ghana.
He maintained that the Ministry of Finance has inherited a very challenging economy and has promised to deal with it in a gradual and systematic manner.
Reacting to the issue raised by the MP for Esikado on the School Feeding Programme, Hon. Iddrisu alluded that there were damning reports from the Price Water House that indicate that the School feeding programme did not benefit every child as alleged by the NPP Administration.
It was in this vein, he said, that the Capitation Grant was increased by 50 per cent at the additional cost of GH 7.5 million.
The Minister of Communication said it was not true that the budget does not create job opportunities, noting that government's long term objective is to promote and create productive employment opportunities in all sectors.
“The budget offers hope for employment in the agric and road sectors, ICT, private sector, cocoa, housing, infrastructure and all sectors. Also the Ministry of Finance has made allocation of free school uniforms which will not be imported from China but produced by a local Ghanaian entity to support job creation,” he explained.
In his contribution, the MP for Atwima Kwanwoma, Dr Kojo Appiah Kubi described the budget presented as a good one which indeed passes the pass mark “because with the few changes it could be the replica of a budget presented by Dr Akoto Osei”.
Explaining, he said, the budget bears the indelible footprints of the NPP, which the previous government left in the country through its good management of the economy, stressing “it does contain a lot but nothing new.”
In his view the NDC Government which wants to pursue a social democratic development agenda was using the NPP liberal democratic approach.
Supporting the current administration's investments in poverty reduction, Dr. Appiah-Kubi warned against the temptation to make the state the agent for poverty reduction in the pursuit of the social democratic development agenda.
“The state is not the agent for poverty reduction and employer of the teeming unemployed. It is only a facilitator. The state should concentrate on facilitating the private sector for sustained economic growth and empower individuals to create wealth for accelerated poverty reduction,” he emphasized.
By Sheilla Sackey & Awudu Mahama