– Hon. Avedzi Reveals

…As Akufo-Addo Govt puts nation’s economy in harm’s way

Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, the Deputy Minority Leader in Parliament, has once more punched the Akufo-Addo administration, for doing significant harm to the nation’s economy with policies that have imposed more hardship on the people.

He decried the government was not taking the right steps to save the alleged broken economy it claimed to have inherited from the erstwhile Mahama administration.

According to him, an amount of GHc721million accrued from tax revenue, being Internally Generated Funds (IGF) by municipal, metropolitan and district assemblies (MMDAs) from January to September, this year, could not be accounted for.

Hon. Avedzi, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ketu North, in the Volta Region, made these castigating statements when he took his turn in the 2018 Budget debate on the floor of parliament last week.

“Mr. Speaker, I will refer you to page 201 of the 2018 Budget, Mr. Speaker, let’s start from page 199 and then to 201, you will see non-tax revenue, actuals, 2017. Mr. Speaker, we have Collection, Retention and Lodgment (balance), which must go to the non-tax accounts.”

“Mr. Speaker, the total revenue that is allowed for MMDAs is the retention, the balance goes to the non- tax revenue accounts, and thus into the consolidated accounts.

“Mr. Speaker, the total tax revenue, thus IGF collected by the  MMDAs as at September 2017 is GHS2.925 billion, total amount of retention, thus amount MMDAs to retain is GHS2.204M and what was left, what we called logger or balance is GHS721million. There, over GHS3 billion has been collected, the MMDAs retained some, and there is GHS721 million left.”

“But Mr. Speaker, when you go to pages 168 and 172, you could not find the GHS721million.  So the question I want the Finance Minister to answer is – where is the money?” He stated.

In his view, the missing GHS721million issue should not be treated as a political football between NPP and NDC, but a national issue and he wants parliament as a whole to ask the Finance Minister to account for the money.

He argued that, what that meant was that the 2018 Budget Statement that the government claimed would bring Ghana out of declined economy through fiscal discipline and diversification was nothing less than an empty rhetoric.

The minority had earlier described the GHS61billion budget presented to parliament for approval as a big fraud and an executive conspiracy tailored towards mortgaging the future of the nation.

Adding his voice on the budget debate that ended last Tuesday, Dr. Avedzi said the 2017 budget had not been properly accounted for and that it was proper parliament be furnished with details of all revenue generated in the current fiscal year.

The Ketu North MP, who is also the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, averred that there was a systematic failure by government to account for revenue generated, arguing that it was necessary the opposing side of parliament took the matter seriously for the Finance Minister to furnish the house with information on the performance of revenue generation by agencies of government in 2017.

“Mr. Speaker, when I look at the strength of the total tax revenue estimated, we have GHS39.8 billion, the earmark fund, thus compensation for employees total to GHS19.5 billion, I also look at  interest payment GHS14 billion, the NHIS Fund GHS1.8 billion, the  GETFund GHS974million, Road Fund GHS881million.”

“The District Assemblies Common Fund GHS1.8 billion, transfer to GNPC GHS998million and GRA pension GHS974million; it gives us a total of GHS41.9billion. Mr. Speaker, it means that our total tax revenue cannot meet this earmark fund. If you cannot meet your earmark fund, how can you say you are putting Ghana back to work?” The Deputy Minority leader argued.

He also raised issues concerning employees in the public sector, stating that the NPP government deliberately reduced the public sector wage bill and ‘nicodemously’ inflated the number of staffers under the Office of the President.

He said, a total number of employees on government payroll within the ministries, departments and  agencies (MDAs) have been reduced from a total number of 686,000 in 2017 to 626,782 in 2018, infrastructure ministries reduced from 3,785 to 3,457, a reduction of 388.

“But Mr. Speaker, when it comes to government machinery, thus the total number of employees of government machinery (Office of the President) rose from 953  to 1,697, an increase of 78%, the question I asked myself is if we cannot channel human resource to productive sector, can Ghana be put back to work?”

The Deputy Minority leader mocked that, “the theme, ‘Putting Ghana back to work,’ means that, Ghana was retrogressing in 2017 and that the government had just come to waste public funds.

“Mr. Speaker, when I look at the theme for this policy document, ‘Putting Ghana Back to Work,’ it tells me that in previous years Ghana did not work. When you ask our colleagues from the other side, they say from 2001 to 2008  Ghana worked, they said 2009 to 2016 Ghana did not work, so if in 2018 Ghana is now  going to work, then 2017 Ghana did not work,” he contended.

The Ketu North MP also expressed concern about the allocation of some government policies and programmes in the 2017 budget, saying there was nothing to show in the 2018 budget on how such funds were utilized this year.

He mentioned the ‘one village one dam, one district one factory’ and other programmes in the 2017 budget, which was approved by consensus.

He also bemoaned the reduction of budgetary allocation to some key sectors, which, he said, have the driving bones to enhance the country’s socio-economic development.

He described the 2018 budget as a wasteful budget that would not add anything to the lives of the good people of Ghana.

However, Hon. Kwaku Kwarteng, a Deputy Minister of Finance, disputed Hon. Avedzi’s claim and said it was not true that revenue collected could not be accounted for.

He said it has been the precedence that monies collected from the IGF are lodged in the consolidated fund, and was surprised the Deputy Minority leader accused the government of unaccountability.




Source: Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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