Former Minister of Trade and Industry, Ekow Spio-Garbrah, has questioned the capabilities of the current government’s appointees to run their various offices.
Commenting on the 2018 budget presented to Parliament on Wednesday, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer hopeful said although the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has access to more public funds than all his predecessors, he struggles to balance his books.
Ekwow Spio-Garbrah said on his Facebook page that, “Since the GETFund law was put in place in Year 2000 based on my initiatives and with the help of others, especially Dr Ibn Chambas, all governments have been very happy simply to receive the automatic 2 and a 1/2 % of VAT receipts which finances the GETFund. Governments have been blithely oblivious of hundreds of other sources of funding— of which individual contributions are only one source— which could have grown the GETFund to more than USD 1 billion per year, instead of something below USD 250 million a year. In any case, one of the earliest acts of NPP in 2017, was to pass a law this year, capping the receipts that all statutory funds should receive—Road Fund, Tourism Fund, GETFund, DACF, etc—to only 25% of Their lawful 100% entitlement.
“So this Finance Minister, for the first time in more than Three decades, has far more access to and control of liquid public funds than any previous Minister, in addition to the largest single bond borrowing in Africa’s history, yet he is struggling to balance his books and has GHC 3 billion revenue short fall. NPP truly has boys and girls and not Men and women!”
Mr Ofori-Atta on Wednesday announced a voluntary fund to gather individual contributions to support initiatives in the education sector, particularly the free Senior High School (SHS) programme.
However, critics, mainly from the opposition NDC, see the establishment of the fund as an indication of government’s failure to think through its policies thoroughly.
The budget for the free SHS was increased from GHS400 million in 2017 to GHS 1.2 billion in the 2018 budget.
A former Deputy Education Minister under the NDC administration, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, believes the establishment of the Voluntary Education Fund is a clear indication that the government was struggling to finance the policy.