Political opposition parties have expressed their disappointment at the 2005 budget statement presented by Finance Minister Kwadwo Baah Wiredu on Thursday.
According the Convention People's Party (CPP) and People's National Convention (PNC), the budget does not contain a clear-cut policy direction to reduce the harsh living conditions in the country.
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, had said this year's budget offers hope and vision for the prosperity of all Ghanaians, adding that the government intends to be more prudent in the management of the economy and strengthen the Public Sector to help the Private Sector realize its potential.
The spokesperson of the PNC, Dr. Solomon Tobiga described it as a “maintenance” budget adding that the PNC expected a much greater reduction in taxes in the face of an increase in the cost of living brought about by recent fuel price hikes. “There isn't much of what they were able to do in the first term without venturing into new areas and we are somehow disappointed that the budget did not focus on growth because we have always been told that the macro sector would prepare the fundamentals for the take off and that Chapter 2 of the NPP programme was meant for take off of the economy” he said.
He added, “We did not see any evidence of that whatsoever, we expected to see a reduction in the types of materials and goods imported in to this country especially those that could be manufactured locally and we were expecting government spending to increase so the economy can expand, none of these took place and therefore we are not sure there is anything for growth.”
The General Secretary of the CPP, Prof. Nii Noi Dowuona, was also not happy with the budget saying, “Our quest to attain a desirable per capital income remains a challenge.” “ Government with its medium term development program indicated that it would take the country into a $1000 per capital by 2010 now it is 2012. With this growth rate, if there is any progression towards attaining that, it is off target.” he explained.
He questioned the why the Finance Minister only highlighted the depreciation rate of the cedi against the dollar saying, “we all know the geo political undertones for maintaining the dollar where it is. It is ingenuous to state the cedi-dollar rate to reflect the stability in the cedi, how come there is about 25-30 per cent inflation in the pounds sterling and the Euro and the currency used a lot in sub-regional trade CFA.“
“To us in the CPP any economic program or policy is about human development” he stressed.
According to Prof Dowuana, the pivot of the NPP's philosophy is private sector development and it is therefore questionable that tax reliefs and reductions in corporate taxes, which are reported every year, has little impact on manufacturers.
“Are manufacturers putting out goods on the market? At the moment manufacturing does not account for 2.3 per cent of GDP” he said.