The Minority in Parliament Wednesday presented what it called “The True Message of the State of the Nation” and asked the government to deal with the practical economic challenges facing the country, instead of praising itself for achieving single-digit inflation for so long.
“The government must abandon this single-digit inflation propaganda, stop borrowing unnecessarily and unreasonably from the domestic market and let interest rates drop so businesses can borrow and create jobs.
“People need jobs, not propaganda. People want prices on the market to be genuinely stable. Government must listen to the concerns of the people,” it said.
Presenting the 33-page address which lasted more than two hours, the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, asked how, at time inflation was supposedly dropping in single digits, interest rates were more than doubling over a period of just 12 months.
“Which economic theory explains this strange observation and in which country has this ever happened? Is it not mystical that today, while the inflation rate is 8.8 per cent, lending rates hover around 30 per cent? No wonder the private sector, the engine of growth, cannot ignite its engine. What kind of economic comedy is this?” he asked.
He said even though the NDC government inherited an economy that was growing at 8.4 per cent, even without the benefit of oil export, the sad report in 2012 was that the economy grew by only 7.1 per cent, both the oil and the non-oil sectors put together.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who was surrounded by a large number of MPs from the Minority side, said even though the NDC had been lucky to have more resources at its disposal, yet all the blessings had been eaten up by economic mismanagement.
He said the Mills-Mahama administration also inherited total public debt of $8 billion, the equivalent of GH¢9.5 billion, at the beginning of 2009 but said within just four years that debt had escalated to GH¢33.5 billion.
“This means that the government has been competing with the private sector for money domestically. This causes interest rates to rise, thereby making it harder for domestic businesses to borrow and create jobs. The effect is that our youth are roaming the streets without employment,” he said.
On overspending, the Minority Leader said the people of Ghana would want to know why the Office of the President spent in excess of GH¢600 million above its approved budget in 2012 and the Social Protection Programme spent GH¢700 million above its approved budget.
“The nation wants to know why the Ministry of Youth and Sports last year spent over GH¢300 million above its budget,” he said, and asked whether it was also true that NADMO spent over GH¢300 million in the last quarter of 2012 only.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said as a result of the huge fiscal deficit of GH¢8.7 billion, representing 12 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and arrears to statutory bodies, Fitch, the international credit rating agency, had downgraded Ghana’s credit rating from B-plus to B-negative.
On education, he stated that the NDC’s posture towards education since assuming office in 2009 had been characterised by stagnation, lack of vision and resourcefulness, with the result that the situation in schools had deteriorated, worsened and heading towards total collapse.
He said the BECE pass rate of 62.12 per cent in 2008 fell to 50.21 per cent in 2009 and a sheer 46.93 per cent in 2011 which, according to him, was the worst in 15 years.
He added that lack of teachers at the basic level continued to plague schools, explaining that in 2011, the shortage of teachers in basic schools hit 42,000.
On health, the Minority Leader said that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the major social engineering feat chalked up by the Kufuor administration, had been pushed to the precipice, adding that the poor implementation of a capitation policy by way of a pilot in 2012 had decreased access to primary health care, among other problems.
On aviation, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the issue of aviation fuel shortage of late put many questions in the minds of the people and the future of the industry, adding that it was unfortunate that foreign flights had to make stopovers in Lome, Togo, to refuel.
On the road sector, he stated that the road network suffered the worst maintenance regime in the history of the country from January 2009 to December 2012, noting that the maintenance had not just been of poor quality and slow paced but also of untimely interventions which had worsened the plight of passengers and drivers.
He said after four years in office, the NDC had failed to deliver on any of its promises, adding that that inertia and zero public housing delivery had worsened the housing deficit from an estimated one million in 2009 to one and a half million currently.
The Minority Leader said recent increases in the prices of petroleum products exposed the “hypocrisy” of the NDC, explaining that from pledging to “drastically” reduce the prices of petroleum products, Ghanaians had continued to witness a spiraling of fuel prices and utility rates.
He hinted that there was what he called “a muted discussion in the corridors of power” relating to the privatisation of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), adding that at a time that the country had discovered oil, the NDC administration had suspended the NPP administration’s planned TOR expansion project and later halted the entire operations of the facility.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the shortage of LPG, arising from TOR’s lack of refining crude, might appear to be a side issue, as the bigger matter lay in the four-year NDC scheme to grant finished products lifting permits to the party’s oil marketing companies (OMCs) and bulk distribution companies (BDCs).
“The nation must know which high-profile personalities have made such huge profits from the lifting of finished petroleum products that they are now able to buy strategic national asserts like TOR so that only they can refine Ghana’s crude,” he said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, these are the hard, bare facts of our situation as a country. There is creeping despondency and mistrust accentuated by unbridled corruption, making millionaires of people who had not sown,” the Minority Leader said.
He said since the country belonged to all, when things were manifestly going wrong all Ghanaians should live up to their civic responsibilities by exposing the rot, so that the country could find a cure to the malaise affecting it.
Source: Daily Graphic