The Ranking Member on Finance Committee in Parliament, Casiel Ato Forson has expressed concerns about lack of clear expenditure cuts in the 2023 budget.
He has therefore described the budget for the 2023 fiscal year as full of grammar and empty.
According to the Minority member of parliament, the budget’s silence on cuts in government expenditure is worrying.
The caucus contends that the measures announced by government as part of efforts to generate revenue would only worsen the economic condition of Ghanaians.
While presenting the budget in Parliament on Thursday, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta among other things revealed a freeze on employment of public sector workers and an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) by 2.5%.
“What he gave to us was nothing but grammar. He has informed us clearly that the Ghanaian economy is indeed in an Intensive Care Unit. This Minister has informed us that going forward to the year 2023, there is going to be a freeze on employment at a time when we know that unemployment particularly with the youth is in excess of 50 percent,” the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson told the press.
He added that, the government is oblivious to the reality of many Ghanaians.
“It looks as if this government doesn’t seem to be aware that this Ghanaian economy has introduced unbearable hardship to the citizens of this country. Unfortunately, the adjustments the Minister has announced did not show us how they intend to cut government expenditure. The things he announced are nothing but empty and did not indicate where proper expenditure cuts will come from”, Mr. Ato Forson stressed.
The Finance Minister on Thursday, November 24, 2022, presented the government’s 2023 budget statement in Parliament in accordance with the requirement under Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
Key in the budget was the Minister’s seven-point agenda to boost the economy, including the 2.5 percent increase in VAT and the review of the 1.5 percent Electronic Transfer Levy rate to 1 percent.
Mr. Ofori-Atta further indicated that the increase in VAT is expected to yield GH¢2.70 billion, which will be used to augment funding for road infrastructure development.
For, Mr. Ato Forson, the 2023 budget failed to give hope to Ghanaians in the face of the country’s economic woes.
He encouraged Ghanaians to brace up for maximum and excruciating hardships in 2023, predicting that Ghanaians will go through tough times.
Political elites’ attitude toward national challenges is terrible – CDD-Ghana
The Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at Center for Democratic Development, Ghana (CDD-Ghana), Dr Kojo Pumpuni Asante has condemned the actions of the President, some Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament who have abandoned the 2023 Budget debate to watch the World Cup tournament in Qatar.
This follows reports that some ministers were seen in Qatar cheering on the Black Stars during their match against South Korea.
The Members of Parliament were expected to debate the policies announced in the budget.
However, most of the Majority MPs were not present in the House when the discussions on the budget started. The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta was also represented by his two deputies.
Reacting to this in an interview aired on Joy FM’s Midday News on Thursday, Dr Kojo Pumpuni Asante described the absence of the ministers in Parliament as terrible.
According to him, the current state of the economy should urge leadership to show more concern about the welfare of the ordinary citizens and not embark on such needless travels.
“We have an army of young people that can’t find jobs and have a conveyer belt of producing more of this army of young people and the President goes to Qatar to motivate the Black Stars on the day that this budget is supposed to set and indicate our pathway to economic recovery. He shouldn’t have done that, but he did.”
“The political elites in this country have to wake up because their attitude toward national challenges is terrible and even the challenges we are facing. I feel insulted as a citizen by the way our leaders are behaving around these things,” he said.
Dr. Pumpuni Asante therefore cautioned the country’s political elite to refrain from such acts.
“It should not cross anybody’s mind, whether cabinet minister or minister to be watching football when we are trying to fashion out a strategy to get out of this hell for many people.”
You Can’t Stop Appointees From Driving V8 – Anyaa Sowutuom MP
The Member of Parliament for the Anya Sowotuom constituency, Dr. Dickson Adomako Kissi, says some government appointees might go against government’s directive on not driving V8s.
The MP says it’s untenable for him and his colleagues to drive salon cars to some parts of their constituencies.
He observed that most of the roads in the country are unmotorable, and plying such roads without V8s will be difficult for some government appointees who are Members of Parliament (MPs) to visit their constituencies.
The government in its 2023 budget statement placed “a ban on the use of V8s/V6s or its equivalent except for cross-country travel. All government vehicles would be registered with GV green number plates from January 2023”.
Reacting to this directive on The Point of View, the legislator said it will be a herculean task for him and his colleagues to commute to their constituencies with salon cars, especially in areas with poor road networks.
“Well, I have to be very blunt here. I live in a place the roads are bad. If you stop me from using V8, I don’t know how I will get to some of my places, and I’m in Accra. I can even cite the likes of Ngleshie Amanfrom, I don’t know how Sylvester Matthew Tetteh (MP) can reach certain parts of his constituency in a salon car, it’s not possible. So that is a very difficult thing even if you are a Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE)”.
“I mean if I need to go to Agape, if I need to go to certain parts within my constituency, if I make a move with salon car at Anyaa, there will be trouble, so I think that, that will not be very doable, and very difficult to measure,” Dr. Adomako bemoaned on The Point of View.
He wants the ban to be reviewed in order for government appointees to go about their duties without any hindrance.
The lawmaker suggested that government appointees assigned with V8s should be made to pay for their own fuel, in order to cut the government’s cost in purchasing fuel for them.
He said some bold measures need to be taken by the government to scrap fuel given to government appointees for their V8s,
“How will you know if I’m going out of Accra or not? If you see me driving V8, there are some truths I must admit, I pay for my fuel, people should be made to pay for their fuel. We better scrap it. That can be a very bold move… When the onus is on you to pay fuel for wherever you will go, you will be much careful in terms of the route you use and where and how,” he suggested on The Point of View.
Martin Kpebu Commends Judge For Rejecting Ato Essien’s Settlement With State
Private Legal Practitioner, Martin Kpebu has commended Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, the presiding Judge for the case between the State and founder of Capital Bank, William Ato Essien for rejecting a settlement between both parties.
He agreed with the judge that the terms for the settlement do not favour the state, thus should be reconsidered.
Mr. Essien, per the proposed settlement, agreed to pay GH₵90 million in total: GH₵30 million today and GH₵60 million in an agreed installment settlement with the state.
But in court on Thursday, December 1, 2022, the presiding judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, who was ready with his judgment, said the state appears to have been compromised.
“So, after three years of going through prosecution with the state calling 17 witnesses, is this the best settlement for the prosecution? It appears the state is compromised.”
Justice Kyei Baffour added that Section 35 of the Courts Act upon which the terms of the settlement were based is inapplicable in this case.
Capital bank case: Court rejects terms of settlement between state and Ato Essien
A Commercial Court Division of the Accra High Court has rejected the terms of settlements reached between state prosecutors and the founder of Capital Bank, William Ato Essien.
Section 35 of the Courts Act states that “Where a person is charged with an offence before the High Court or a Regional Tribunal, the commission of which has caused economic loss, harm, or damage to the state or any state agency, the accused may inform the prosecutor whether the accused admits the offence and is willing to offer compensation or make restitution and reparation for the loss, harm, or damage caused.
Reacting to the ruling, Mr. Kpebu said “the Judge has done extremely well and he should be commended because I buy into the argument that the value of the money today is certainly far less than its value three to four years ago.”
He believes that Mr. Ato Essien’s offer is not enough per the rule of time value of money and must be prepared to offer a significant offer before such settlement could be considered.
“It is always good to recover money from accused persons rather than throwing them into jail. It does not serve anybody’s interest as such.
“Looking at it, it appears that Mr. Ato Essien would have to increase his offer significantly or like we say in Ghanaian English, gargantuan. So that the judge will find it very difficult to reject same and that would help. Because as I said we do not benefit that much when an accused person is going to jail, especially when there is no violent offence,’ he said on Top Story, Thursday.
William Ato Essien, Rev. Fitzgerald Odonkor and Tetteh Nettey, a former Managing Director of MC Management Service owned by Mr. Essien were charged with 23 counts of conspiracy, stealing from the ¢620 million liquidity support given to the bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), to enable it to service its maturing debt.
The accused persons, according to the prosecution, opened various bank accounts with Capital Bank through which the ¢620 million BoG liquidity support was transferred while others were carried in jute bags to Ato Essien.
Meanwhile, the court adjourned proceedings to December 13 for the parties to convince the court on the issues that have been raised.
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