Member of Parliament (MP) for Wassa East in the Western Region, Hon Isaac Adjei Mensah, has called on government to as a matter of necessity channel most investment opportunities in the 2018 budget to the rural areas to revive economy.
The MP lamented the budget allocation of GHS 700 million to the Planting for Food and Jobs under the Ministry of Agriculture Budget, describing it as “too small” for the work at hand.
He also noted that the GHS 100 million been allocated towards the implementation of the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL), a Bank of Ghana initiative aimed at incentivising banks to give credit facility to the agriculture sector was still not good enough in a country where at least half of the population lives in the rural areas.
Shearing his views on the budget for 2018, with THE REPUBLIC, Hon Adjei Mensah said, the 2017 budgets have not address the rural areas, thereby leaving the rural sector in a fragile economic situation.
The 2018 budget outlined the government effort to transform the economy via the agriculture sector and numerated a number of projects and programmes aimed at addressing the persisting challenges in the sector including access to finance, low mechanisation,post harvest losses, low technology uptake, etc .
There is also a decision to purchase various types of machinery, rehabilitate dams and support livestock and poultry farmers. The budgetary allocation to the Planting for Food and Jobs programme have been increased from a GHS 560.5 million to GHS 700 million, making the programmes look good on paper and has the potential to boost the agriculture.
But Mr Adjei-Mensah contended that, “With this sort of figure, lip-service is still being paid to Agriculture because the figures do not correlate with the reality. Agriculture is for food sustenance and security; and properly managed can easily change the high rates of unemployment in our country.
In his view as MP from rural area, failure to provide employment usually dashes the hopes of our youth, “as such we therefore need to create an environment of hope for our people”
Specifically, he also expressed dissatisfaction with the funds allotted to rural roads, cocoa roads and rural markets, “You have to explore ways to improve.
He labeled the budget as a “sad budget” for the rural economy remained the most productive sources of the nation’s export commodity and that resources must be tailor to boast the rural areas with funding for roads construction.
He emphasized that, it was not just the stress in the rural economy which has seen a decline in real investments as well as lower farm incomes, but the in the wake of back-to-back suspension of roads construction has also slowdown rural economy.
Mr Adjei Mensah, a former Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways under erstwhile John Mahama Administration, stressed that, the 2018 budget appeared to be a continuation of sweet promises which the government knew it could not fulfill.
He said, the National Democratic Congress(NDC) government left behind a robust economy with heavily invested roads network for economy take off of the country.
The Wassa East MP mention the Kasoa interchange, the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, Giffac Road, Burma Camp bypass, the Spintex Road over fly on motorway, Tema Motorway roundabout projects and the Volivo Bridge in the Shai-Osuduku District where funding has been secured for take off.
He cited the failure in one district one factory, one village one dam, one million dollar for each of 275 constituencies and the free senior high school which is being inundated by serious challenges in its implementations.
“We can plant all we want, but if we do not have good roads to move the harvest, then nothing will change. Our people lack the critical ingredients for making farming worth their while. Roads area relevant to any hope for us to diversify our economy to Agriculture,” he added.
He recalled that the 2017 Budget allotted a similar paltry amount to Agriculture and rural development and as such believes this is a continuation of the hardship of the previous year budget.
He however wants the government to prioritize agriculture at the rural areas, arguing that, Ghana has no absolute control of its full production.
The Minority MP who is also a member of parliament select committee on roads and Transport as well as Gender and Children, said he was not enthused by the entire policies outlined in the 2018 budget is not bringing any form of hope to growth of the economy.
The government in the 2017 budgetary statement projected agric sector to grow by 3.5 percent in 2017, underpinned by the continued recovery of the crops sub-sector, with expected increases in the production of rice, maize and the tubers.
It is also projected to grow by 4.0 percent and 4.2 percent in 2018 and 2019, respectively, thereby attaining an average growth rate of 3.9 percent for 2017-2019.
With these he is not convinced that, it will give rural dwellers a relief since most of these people are farmers.
“We must stop treating agriculture as development programs, agriculture must be treated as business to aid the economy of Ghana to grow strong,” he stated.
Mr Adjei-Mensah also expressed disaffection in the handling of other sectors like education and health, stating, the budget for 2018 failed to outline policies to address those critical sectors.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba