24.02.2005 General News

"We have just heard a 'Wahala' budget - Asaga

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Accra, Feb.24, GNA - Mr Moses Asaga, Minority Spokesman on Finance, on Thursday described the 2005 Budget as "Wahala Budget", designed to suffocate workers and the poor.

He said the mitigating measures announced in the Budget were not enough to cushion the "draconian prices of petroleum products, high electricity tariff and school fees".

The Member, who was responding to the Budget Statement at a press conference in Parliament, said: "The wage rise is worthless, not even up to one British pound."

He said people were now leaving the country in droves to seek greener pastures because they no longer saw hope in Ghana under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.

"Positive Change has created so much poverty and hopelessness. People now rely on remittances for survival."

He said President John Agyekum Kufuor and the Minister of Finance now pride in the volume of remittance as a sing of economic success.

"High volume of Private remittance is a sign economic crisis. It is a sign of poverty. It is a disgrace and not something to talk about." The Member said what Ghana needed was Direct Foreign Investment and not "20 dollars, 20 euros offered by friends and relative abroad as a lifeline to families."

On the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he said the Government had set a low target as it had done previously to achieve it.

"Ghana needs to grow at eight per cent annually to make it to the league of Middle Income earners" he said.

He said the inflation of 11 per cent chalked by the Government was not a miracle and a measure of brilliance.

"We made 9.8 per cent in 1998 when the NDC (National Democratic Congress) was in office. We need to have such single digit inflation marks to push forward."

He said the Government was selective in the announcement of the macro- economic indexes to hide ugly figures.

He said reference to the dollar these days was sheer hypocrisy since the dollar had lost against currencies of the World's poorest countries. Mr Asaga said poor nations like Bangladesh and Nepal did not need economic miracles to post a currency gain against the dollar.

The Member said the figure of 5.8 per cent represented by the Government, as the GPD growth was doubtful and conflicting because most sets of calculations point to figures lesser than that.

He said the announcement made to the effect that the strategic stock levy had been abolished was a fluke.

"It has been replaced by a much more painful cross-subsidy levy which amounts to robbing Peter to pay Satan not Paul.

"The housing schemes are all a fluke. We were all here when they announced in 2002 that a lot, in fact a lot of houses were to be built. Where are they?"

The Member scolded the Government for its "vague employment policy when more than 100,000 youth are roaming the streets of Accra and other towns selling dog chains, apples and biscuits.

"The Cocoa spraying exercise is a seasonal activity which can not guarantee decent livelihood."

Mr Asaga said due to the poor economic management skills of the Government, "88 per cent of the population of Upper East are poor while eight out of every 10 people you meet in the Upper West are paupers."

"The Minister did not talk about Infant Mortality Rate, Literacy Rate, Income Levels, Life Expectancy and the Guinea Worm Infection." He said Ghanaians were dying young; more babies were dying at birth and more children die before they reached five years of age.

"We should help them say so far so very bad."

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