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2014 Budget is retrogressive — Minority

A section of MPs displaying placards with various inscriptions.

The Minority in Parliament has stated that the 2014 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government is retrogressive and would not tackle the everyday challenges of ordinary people.

The floor of Parliament was alive for the two hours and 25 minutes that the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Terkper, used to present the budget to the house, during which he was greeted with boos and jeers from the Minority  from time to time.
The Minority seemed to have a well-rehearsed strategy as they occasionally lifted leaflets with various inscriptions to show their disapproval of some of the policies and programmes outlined in the budget.
Some of the inscriptions read: “GYEEDA”, “Woyome”, “Merchant Bank”, “SUBAH” “Asofoton”, “O God, save Ghana-Proverbs 29:4 (NIV),” “Boys Abre”, “Vikileaks”, among other inscriptions.
At a stage during the presentation, the house became rowdy as the entire backbench of the Minority burst into the now popular “Woyome Woyome” chorus, while their counterparts on the Majority side reacted by raising leaflets with inscriptions “Drill Ship”, amidst shouts and laughter.
When Mr Terkper touched on the 2.5 per cent increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT), the Minority reacted with shouts of “Zachaeus, Zachaeus, No Case VAT, No Case VAT”, apparently referring to the Minister of Finance as a taxman and the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, who presided over the increase in the VAT rate to 15 per cent last Friday.
Comments by Minority MPs
Reacting to the budget, the Member of Parliament for Wenchi, Professor George Gyang-Baffuor, said the decrease of 10 per cent of the salary of the President as announced by the Minister of Finance “is a gimmick which will have no effect on salary expenditure of the country.
“The government should come out with real measures to enhance revenues to meet the country’s wage bill instead of such advertisement gimmicks”, he said.
He described the establishment of the infrastructural fund as “nebulous” and questioned the guarantee that the fund would be used for its intended purpose.
“This budget is a ritual and a repetition of what had been presented to Parliament in previous years. All the road projects mentioned in this budget were mentioned in other budgets,” he stated.
He suggested the setting up of a fund for industrialisation which he said was what the country needed at the moment.
For his part, the NPP MP for New Juaben South, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, said the 2014 budget should be evaluated based on the 2013 budget, adding that all the macro-indicators of the 2013 budget were missing.
He said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 2013 was pegged at eight per cent yet the government achieved 7.4 per cent with oil income which was far short of the 8.4 per cent achieved in 2008 under President J. A. Kufuor without oil income.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah explained that the inflation target of nine per cent at the beginning of 2013 was now 13.1 while the budget deficit target of 10.5 per cent for 2013 could be higher than the 10.5 as mentioned in the 2014 budget.
Response by the Majority
But the NDC MP for Sene East and Chairman of the Parliamentary  Committee on Mines and Energy, Dr Kwabena Donkor, contended that no single budget could address all the challenges of the country.
He stated that the 2014 budget addressed key issues of agriculture, infrastructure and fiscal discipline, adding that the budget set ambitious targets which were achievable.
The Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Isaac Adjei-Mensah, said the setting up of a fund to address the country’s infrastructural deficit was welcome.
That, he explained, could result in the construction of new roads and the regular maintenance of existing ones, adding that a path had now been charted to address the country’s shortfall development projects.
The Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Emmanuel Kwadwo Agyekum, said that the budget was one of the best in recent times since it outlined measures to solve challenges facing the country.
“As for the Minority, they will have issues with every policy but the government is focused and will deliver on its campaign promises,” he stated.
To the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, “the budget is a good and bold attempt to solve the country’s infrastructural needs.”

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