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25.02.2005 General News

Minority’s Day of shame

By Chronicle

- disrespects House Speaker The minority showed lack of respect to the chair of the august house yesterday when the majority leader asked that the debate on the budget be suspended till next Tuesday.

While he was on his feet, the minority leader, Hon. Alban Bagbin, rose on a point of order but did not catch the speaker's eye. The speaker subsequently adjourned the proceedings of the house.

As the house stood to allow the speaker leave, which has always been the usual practice, the minority were glued to their seats in protest of the speaker's action.

The majority, who were surprised at this bizarre behaviour put up by their colleagues, started hooting at them shame…. shame… shame…….whooo…. whooo…..

Members of the public, who came to witness proceedings, stood virtually stunned at the position taken by the minority with signs of disapproval on the faces of some members of the minority that the action was uncalled for.

The minority stayed in the chamber as the other dignitaries accompanied the speaker to the ground lobby to inspect an exhibition mounted by the Finance Ministry on its expenditure for the year ending December 2004.

Later at a press conference, the minority spokesman on finance, Hon. Moses Asaga, described the about three and half-hour budget statement as a 'wahala budget' which would inflict more hardships on Ghanaian workers, students, farmers and the vulnerable in society.

He said the mitigating factors the government was trying to put in place was not enough to cushion the workers of Ghana against its draconian increases in the price of fuel, of almost 350%, over the past three years.

He stated that the expected minimum wage was worthless, since its value was less than one pound sterling per day, about 70 pence. Meanwhile, prices of goods and services, especially transport costs, school fees, hospital fees, electricity tariffs are all sky-rocketing.

Mr. Asaga noted that it was a disgrace to the NPP government that after four years of positive change and wealth creation the wealth created as minimum wage was 70 pence a day.

Asaga lamented that it was not surprising that most Ghanaian youth, students, nurses and doctors were clamouring to leave the country in search of greener pastures, because Positive Change Chapter 1 had created so much poverty in Ghana to an extent, which was alarming from the remittances recorded by government, as claimed by the president in his sessional address and also captured by the budget that private remittances now stood at ¢2 billion.

“Normally, private remittances show the measure of poverty back at home. The more remittances you get, the poorer the domestic economy. The increase means that Ghanaians are worse off in their standard of living.

He said the government could not substitute foreign direct investment (FDI) with relief money and donations from NGO's abroad to expand the economy. This economy will not expand under this kind of policy.

“Competence in an economy is expressed by private capital flows in the form of FDI, management contracts and technology boost and not by small and paltry sums like £20 to a family member.”

He indicated that the NDC had been exonerated because when these levies of withholding tax of 7.5% were introduced, they kicked against it but the government refused to listen.

“What we said and they did not listen to, is what they want to implement.” “We need to do more, if we have to be a middle-income country by 2015. These figures are worrisome”.

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