Parliament yesterday approved the 2015 Budget after debating the financial plan for two weeks.
As usual with debates on the financial policy of the government, members of the Minority described it as a budget that would deepen Ghana’s economic woes, while the Majority labelled it a “budget of hope”
The winding up comments by the leaders of both sides of the House were characterised by boos, jeers, name-calling and unruly behaviour by members of both sides.
The Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, in a bid to maintain calm, threatened to order the marshall to forcibly remove from the chamber any member who engaged in unparliamentary behaviour.
The Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, in his comments, said the nature, character, form and shape of the 2015 budget was anything but transformational.
He said the short term prospects had no proper foundation hence the medium term could not be bright.
“The transformational agenda could only be a forlorn hope without any basis. But fellow Ghanaians let us all come together to rescue this sinking ship, as clearly a sinking fund cannot do it. Let us put our shoulders to the wheel, especially, since both the driver and the mate have clearly indicated to all of us that they are clueless in the face of such gargantuan maladministration,” he said.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said that economic growth under the current administration had slowed down, adding that it was a pointer to the fact that the government had failed to perform.
According to him, the cedi had depreciated by 195.5 per cent after only six years of the coming into being of the current National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration when for the eight years that President J.A Kufuor was in power, the currency depreciated by only 53 per cent.
“Mr Speaker, interest rates now hover around 30 per cent, our gross international reserves have since August 2014 recovered from 2.2 months to 3.3 months but the net reserves are far less than three weeks. The country’s fiscal deficit and current account deficit have all escalated since 2008. Indeed 2014 represents the third year in a row that the country has had a twin fiscal deficit and current account deficit. The public debt is over GH¢70 billion from GHC 9.5 billion in December 2008.
“Mr Speaker, these represent the gory circumstances of our economic fundamentals and if these represent bright prospects for the economy, the gloomy prospects of which must be secured, then we need God Almighty to rescue us,” he said, among many other things.
The Majority Leader, Mr Alban S.K Bagbin, said the government recognised the challenges facing the country and was working assiduously to address them.
He pointed at some shortcomings of the Kufuor administration and suggested that if that government had faced any of the challenges encountered by the John Mahama regime, it would have long crumbled.
He proposed that the budget be prepared to cover more than one fiscal year to make for long term planning.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, said the government would no longer pay the debts of state owned organisations in a bid to reduce the debt burden.