Majority supports Bawumia’s position on GH¢7b “outstanding arrears”

Ato Forson – Deputy Minister of Finance

The Majority New Patriotic Partly (NPP) caucus in Parliament has described as “pathetic” the response of the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) caucus that the GH¢7 billion of expenditure uncovered was due to reforms being undertaken on government contracts and expenditure.

The Majority said that the Minority had said the GH¢7 billion was part of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) project.

The Majority, at a counter press conference in Parliament in Accra, pointed out that the Minority, by its response had admitted that the GH¢7 billion had “been kept out of the purview of the books of government.

“It constitutes real expenditures that have been taken,” Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee said.

The Minority NDC had at a press conference on Wednesday discounted claims by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, earlier this week  that  an amount of GH¢7 billion could not be accounted for in the documents handed to the NPP government during the period of transition.

The Vice President said details of the amount were only uncovered as the NPP began compiling data for the 2017 budget statement, and indicated that the amount covered a period of 2014-2016

The Vice President had said: “In preparing for this year’s Budget for example, we have been very surprised by the fiscal data, the data on our expenditure and our revenue.

“As we interrogated the data, we realized to our shock that, expenditure amounting to GH¢7 billion was made by the previous government, but never disclosed. These come from 2014, 2015 and 2016, so where have they been hiding all these years?

“How are you supposed to manage an economy with faulty data? And so we have to emphasise that, getting the data right is really very key because it throws the entire budget into disarray because you are going into 2017/”

However, the Minority at a news conference in Accra, described as ‘malicious’ the Vice President’s allegation.

Former Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Forson maintained that the amount was still at the Finance Ministry and had not been squandered as was being alleged.

But on Thursday at the news conference, the Majority corroborated the claims of Vice President Bawumia that expenditure by the former government amounting to GH¢7 billion could not be accounted for. 

The Majority said: “The reaction by the former Deputy Minister Ato Forson, which is sad and deeply worrying depicts a team that is grossly unaware of the extent to which the nation’s books may have been  cooked to provide a false sense of good economic management and to deceive investors,

“More worrying is the fact that former (the) Deputy Minister attributed the arrears accumulation to the reforms underway and the way in which it was captured.

“What the former Deputy Minister describes as creative accounting management is unethical and dangerous.”

The Majority maintained that the Vice President was right when he made the claims.

Dr Mark Assibey Yeboah said the previous NDC government failed to disclose the details of the GH¢7 billion in order for them to meet the IMF targets and to benefit from the $900 million the fund promised to pay.

He said Ghana would not have met the requirement when they went to the IMF and without the GH¢7 billion, the country’s budget deficit stood at 9.5 per cent of GDP but would shoot up to 11.5 per cent if added.

Source: GNA

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