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10.11.2005 General News

Minority comments on budget

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Accra, Nov. 10, GNA - Mr Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader on Thursday described the 2006 budget as "Azaa Budget". He said the financial policy statement was based on statistics that has no credibility.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Bagbin said:" it was infused with political recthories that focussed on political gains and sound bites."

He said," instead of telling the whole nation what they have done they kept to the blame game, which has become the culture of government as it seeks theatre performances on serious national issues." The Minority Leader said government has once again shown that it had lost the fight on corruption by hunting and jailing hapless civil servants and covering up the deeds of influential political leaders. "In order to fight corruption, government must have the will to discipline and check its own people."

He said Ghana has once again lost the opportunity to redirect resources to productive areas to lift "ourselves from economic doldrums."

Mr. Bagbin said when governance is run along the rules and regulations of the corporate world, the ordinary citizen suffers because his welfare is ignored.

He said the budget, which was tailored along the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) philosophy of "property owning democracy" would gradually drag the country into a class society where majority would wallow in abject poverty.

Mr Bagbin said the economy seems to be doing well in the eyes of bookmakers because most of the funds pumped into the economy came because of Ghana's smooth democratic transition.

He said development partners are also interested in Ghana because "our neighbours like Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia and the rest are collapsing."

He, however, applauded government for reducing corporate tax, which he said, was good for business.

Mr Bagbin advised that emphasis should be laid on venture capital, which would provide long-term credit to businesses.

He said government should improve the condition of service of workers who, out of necessity engage in petty corruption. "Their type of corruption is for survival and not because they are greedy like some politicians."

The Minority Leader criticised government for failing to produce data on employment, saying that "that would have told us the true story of our economic deterioration."

He asked government to cut down on its waste and be prepared to pursue pragmatic economic policies that would free the people from ignorance, poverty and disease in the land.

"In terms of quality of life, we are deteriorating but when it comes to political verbiage, we are improving."

Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, former MP of Wenchi West said the budget was a campaign platform speech and not a serious financial policy, which could enrich any debate that would move Ghana forward. "There was an attempt to ignore hot burning issues and project insignificant deeds which are highly controversial."

He said," the NPP thinks it is in the competition with the National Democratic Congress (NDC) so it spends all its time talking about what they perceived to be the policies of the NDC."

"The financial policy means that you talk about your targets and tell your countrymen how you achieved your previous targets and how you are going to achieve your new targets."

The former MP said, "data presented by the Minister makes no sense. How can you say that potable water coverage has gone up whilst water- borne diseases such as cholera, guinea worm are on the increase. Lets not even talk about malaria."

Mr Asiedu-Nketia said the cocoa industry is in crisis but government was not telling the people the truth about it. He said there were quality concerns, which led to the repatriation of 5,000 tonnes of cocoa.

He said government should have told the people the financial implications of the Diaspora's voting, which is crafted in the Representation of the Peoples (Amendment) Bill. Mr Asiedu-Nketia praised government for proposing tax rebates for employers who would take on young graduates.

He however noted that this should not be another empty promise. He asked government not to increase tax on petroleum products, which is the main danger to the economic well-being of the ordinary Ghanaian.