The Chronicle has agonised over the 2011 Budget Statement ever since the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, finished reading it without a cheer from the Majority bench. The faces of National Democratic Congress (NDC) members in the House told it all.
The news in the Budget Statement is not good to the health of the people of Ghana.
For a group of people depending on good governance and proper management of the economy to seek re-election, the 2011 Budget Statement was not the most reliable piece of information with which to confront the electorate.
The average Ghanaian has endured nearly two years of broken promises and the lowering of standard of living, occasioned by rocketing prices of goods and services in spite of the roof-top advertisement of economic miracle drummed into the ears from statistics that appear to have no base.
When the Government Statistician, Dr. Grace Bediako, announced that this nation had joined the Middle Income club of Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea, the average person was looking for indicators in the Budget Statement to reflect the new status. Instead, the Ghanaian was hit with more taxes to debase the already low standard of living.
To add insult to injury, the government seems to be suggesting that it has no interest of continuing with the construction of sections of some key road networks began in the previous administration.
We are disappointed that for nearly two years, not much has been done to complete the Achimota-Ofankor and the Nsawam-Apedwa stretches of the Accra-Kumasi Highway, the Nsawam-by-pass and the Tetteh-Quarshie-Adenta stretch of the Accra-Aburi Highway.
We expected the Budget Statement to point the way towards the completion of these important projects, only to learn from the Budget that these important road networks are on the low scale of importance in the scheme of things of those claiming to be leading this society towards a ‘Better Ghana.’
Read the lips of Dr. Kwabena Duffuor on these projects. “Government WILL CONSIDER entering into a pre-financing arrangement with financial institutions and contractors to raise funds to complete the Achimota-Ofankor, Tetteh Quarshie-Madina, Nsawam-Apedwa by-pass.”
What this means is that the government has not even got to the consideration stage of engaging financial institutions to think about how to finish these very important links in our road networks, which puts everybody on notice to forget about the completion of these projects within the four year mandate of President John Evans Atta Mills.
Rather, the Budget Statement gleefully, emphasises the determination of the Atta Mills administration to complete the Tetteh-Quarshie-Mallam Highway, as if it has any hand in its construction. This project is being financed solely from the Millennium Challenge Account advanced to this nation by the United States of America.
When the Budget states that the government of the NDC has done a lot in the two years that it has been in office in the name of charting a ‘Better Ghana’ agenda, The Chronicle urges Ghanaians to take the story with a pinch of salt.
In 1980, a Budget proposal presented by the government of ex-President Hilla Limann was withdrawn when it lost the approval debate in Parliament. The Chronicle urges the House to reject this Budget. It has the potential to harm the economy!