The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Finance Committee, Cassiel Ato Forson, is not enthused with the mid-year budget review presented by the Minister of Finance on Thursday, July 23, 2020. Ato Forson said he expected the government to make a better breakdown of all expenses incurred with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Citi News, Ato Forson described the mid-year budget review as unacceptable. He insisted that the government said nothing that could satisfy the ordinary Ghanaian.
“I am disappointed as a Ghanaian and I am disappointed in the Akufo-Addo government. I say this because the mid-year review that was presented to us was very empty. There was nothing in it for the ordinary Ghanaian for us to be happy about. Rather, we are receiving some major shocks to the extent that we are hearing for the first time that government has spent or intends to spend GH¢11.1 billion on coronavirus expenditure alone without giving us breakdown of what the money has been used for.”
“This is sad and unacceptable. We thought the Minister would use this golden opportunity to provide us with some breakdown of what the money has been used for. Unfortunately, it is all Bible quotations and nothing in the budget,” he added. Cassiel Ato Forson further accused the government of moving past delivering an “empty” budget review to making manifesto promises.
He remarked, “Clearly, from what we are seeing, this government must go. You cannot as a government come into office with a public debt amounting to about GH¢120 billion and increase it to GH¢280 billion with very little to show. Yet, you have had resources in excess of GH¢300 billion in your disposal and yet they could not tell us anything.”
“What surprises me is that the Minister responsible for finance has said that the President is coming to inaugurate a new program on the coronavirus alleviation. Apparently, if you are to look at paragraph 412 of his review, this program will actually start from 2021 to 2023. So clearly, this is not the time to announce this. It is a manifesto pledge,” he exclaimed.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta presented the mid-year budget review to Parliament on Thursday, July 23, 2020. The presentation highlighted the government’s plan on how the country is to recover from the shocks of the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April 2020, Parliament approved the government’s request to withdraw an amount of GH¢1.2 billion from the contingency fund to finance the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP). But Mr. Ofori-Atta made another request before the House for a supplementary budget of GH¢11. 8 billion to support government’s expenditure for the rest of the year 2020.
He also revealed that the pandemic had left the country with a revenue shortfall of GHS13.6 billion and unplanned expenditures of GH¢11.7 billion. This information from the government has sparked up criticisms from some Ghanaians which include the Minority.
The Member of Parliament for Yapei Kusawgu, John Jinapor, for instance, has described the mid-year budget review as dishonest and “exceedingly disturbing.” In his assessment, he said the Finance Minister shied away from giving the true state of the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.