Ken Ofori-Atta, Haruna Iddrisu
The minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday abstained from the voice votes to approve the government’s 2018 budget statement in parliament, accusing the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, of breaching the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) when he presented the mid-year review of the 2017 budget in July, this year.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, rounding up the debate on the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government, averred that the finance minister breached Sections 28 and 29 of the PFMA, which is not in tandem with the Constitution.
According to the minority leader, the minister should have brought the mid-year budget with supplementary estimates for approval by parliament as mandated by Sections 28 and 29 of the PFMA, but he just came to read the statement without approval by the house.
Mr Iddrisu said if one looked at the 2017 mid-year review budget which obviously formed the basis for the 2018 budget, one could see that some figures had been reviewed as captured in the 2018 budget, contrary to the argument by the minister that the figures in the mid-year budget were not touched, and the government also did not come with financial request for approval.
He therefore said that the 2018 budget, which draws part of its strength from the 2017 mid-year review, is an illegality and therefore the minority would not like to be associated with any illegality.
In his final debate on the budget, Mr Haruna Iddrisu asked the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to go by its promise and accordingly reduce corporate tax from 25% to 15% as has been captured in the party’s 2016 manifesto.
He said the NPP promised to scrap special the import and the national stabilization levies, but they are still in operation.
The minority leader said it was also not economically wise for the government to crowd out the private sector, which is the engine of growth, adding that the government must rather create the conducive economic environment for the private sector to thrive and create jobs for the youth.
He advised that the government must not directly get involved in the creation of jobs to increase its wage bill.
The minority leader said the further capping of the National Health Insurance Levy Fund for the payment of allowances for nursing students would put the Fund into great jeopardy and negatively affect health delivery in the country.
Responding, the majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, stated that if the NDC government under Prof Mills and John Mahama had destroyed the economy, the NDC MPs must rather throw their weight behind the NPP administration to implement better policies and bring prosperity to Ghanaians.
“When the NPP government took over power in January this year, it has been able to increase the international reserves of the country from $6.9 billion to $7.1 billion in 10 months,” he said.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, who was also in the house for the approval of the budget, claimed he knows everything about the PFMA and did not know where he went wrong in presenting the mid-year review budget in July.
He said the minority leader was only doing politics and not pointing to any major breach of the PFMA.
Parliament will start considering the budget estimates for various ministries, departments and agencies from today.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr