Page last updated at Wednesday, November 20, 2013 7:07 AM //
The 2014 Budget and Economic Policy of government, has drawn mixed feelings from parliamentarians, with the majority optimistic that the economy would surmount the current financial challenges.
The budget as presented by Finance Minister Seth Terkper, aims to strengthen revenue collection, control public sector wage spending, modernise agriculture, manage the country’s debt burden prudently and realign national expenditure towards priority programmes, as well the establishment of a fund to boost infrastructural development.
But the minority who booed the minister said the target set out in the budget cannot be attained.
Professor George Yaw Gyan-Baffour, Member of Parliament (MP) for Wenchi said the budget indicated a bleak future for Ghana’s economy, because the economic policy statement did not espouse concrete actions, policies and programmes that would transform the economy.
He said the focus on infrastructural development alone cannot transform the economy, adding that govern ought to be bold to put more money in Small and Medium Scale Enterprise development and encourage private sector growth and reduce the cost of credit to propel the financial system significantly.
The lawmaker expressed fear that the revenue government has projected to realise from the 2.5 per cent increase in the Value Added Tax rate would not be applied to the shore up infrastructural development but would be utilised for other sectors of the economy because of the unrealistic projections in the budget.
Prof Gyan-Baffour said he was not enthused that government chose to increase the tax rate instead of broadening the tax base, suggesting that the move would stifle private sector growth and dwindle the fortunes of the economy.
Mr Joe Baidoo-Ansah, MP for Kwesimintsim said the 2014 budget would end up like the 2013 one where most of the projections were not met because they were not realistic, adding:“The narrative does not match the actual.”
He said for instance, the budget had made room for GH¢50 million for subsidies although government would have to pay for the 25 per cent decrease in utility tariffs amounting to GH¢450 million.
Mr Baidoo-Ansah queried where government intends to get money to service the payment?
However, Alhaji Bashir Fuseini Alhassan, MP for Sagnarigu and Deputy Northern Regional Minister described the budget as one of “hope and challenge” because the objective of the economic arrangement is laudable.
He said new initiatives and critical reforms with clear cut funding ideas were laid out in the financial plan.
Alhaji Alhassan said the budget was in conformity with Ghana’s middle income status that necessitates the government to look internally to make important interventions to raise funds for the development of the nation.
The MP said he was particularly pleased that this year’s budget seeks to modernise agriculture and pursue rural electrification that would foster the needed economic development in many deprived areas of the country.
The move he said was the best in many years because it would lead to value addition in the agricultural sphere and create the needed employment for the teeming youth.
Mr Isaac Adjei Mensah, MP for Wassa East and Deputy Roads and Highways Minister lauded the focus of the budget and also described it as “super, solid, transformational budget of hope”.
He expressed the hope that every Ghanaian would support it because of the benefits inherent in it.
Mr Mensah said the budget was a reflection of the good intentions government had for the country and that as the policy is being implemented the benefits would be clear for all to see.