The government’s budget statement read by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, is likely to be stillborn.

This follows hints by the Minority Leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, that his group was likely to reject it when it comes to the floor of Parliament for debate.

By the Parliamentary standing orders, the debate on the budget was likely to commence on Monday because the statutory three day grace period falls on a Sunday which is not a sitting day for the legislature.

Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu in a brief interaction with journalists who cornered him to seek his opinion gave an indication that the minority could reject the budget statement when the House resumes to debate on it.

The threat, if indeed carried out, would be a perfect enactment of the Third Republican episode where then Minister of Finance, Dr. George Benneh’s budget, read on behalf of Dr. Limann’s People’s National’Party (PNP) , government, was torpedoed by then minority led by the Popular Front Party (PFP).

But with the current 4th Republican dispensation strictly evolving on majority takes all, it still remains to be seen whether the minority threat, even if it has substance, would be supported by some members of the majority group to have the required numbers to throw over board the Duffuor budget.

As a show of commitment to its cause, the minority yesterday teased that the Government’s fiscal monetary policy for 2011, was as uninspiring as one that evokes “fear and panic” among Ghanaians and that it was a replica of the often repeated government refrain: “Fear and Panic” because the budget does not offer any hope and direction for the citizenry.

In effect the budget statement is as hollow as lacking in substance, adding that the statement was more of an “inventory” than a budget statement designed to turn the economic fortunes of the suffering masses.

Speaking to journalists shortly after the presentation, the former Deputy Finance Minister and Member of Parliament for Tafo Pankrono constituency, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, said what the finance minister sought to do in the entire duration of his presentation was to enumerate past achievements of the NDC “and not tell Ghanaians how they were going to manage the economy in 2012.”

In his estimation, the decision by government to increase taxes to generate revenue to enhance development is rather “juvenile and inconsiderate” at this modern age.

Rather he suggested that the more appropriate and convenient way would have been for government to take practical measures to enhance the collection of taxes in the country.

“With all due respect this is a cheap way of generating money for an economy like ours because when you do that then you are forcing goods and service to shoot up. In every developed nation, governments find ways of collecting and if possible arresting defaulters to deter others, so in the end people would come out to pay their taxes,” Dr. Akoto-Osei argued.

He also challenged government to come out with the exact number of school children it has been able to supply with uniforms and textbooks and stop playing “mischief with the figures.'”

Another deputy Minister of Finance in the previous administration, Professor Gyan Baffour, who is also the MP for Wenchi, could not hide his feelings about the two-hour presentation by Dr. Duffuor and urged that he was not convinced that the budget will meet the expectations of the ordinary Ghanaian.

To him, government only made few amendments to the 2010 budget and read out as 2011 budget to deceive Ghanaians, stressing that the “economic bankruptcy of the NDC is beginning to reflect just after 18 months in office.”

“Clearly, they lack policy direction and just amended last year’s budget and presented to us as a new budget, but thank God, some of us have been’ able to unravel that,” ,Professor Baffour strongly asserted.

However, Dr. Duffuor in his presentation disclosed that the downtrend in inflation in 2010 was a manifestation, of the prudent economic policies implemented by the government since 2009, adding that the economy would have been better off, if the previous administration had put in place proper structures.

According to him, the 2011 budget dubbed: “Stimulating growth and Job Creation” will enhance Ghana’s economy from a stable economy to a sustainable economy” by the end of the year.

The minister added that taxes would be increased considerably to improve efficiency in revenue generation to address the challenges facing the economy, adding that the income status that Ghana has attained was not achieved on a silver platter, but done as a result of “prudent economic policies the NDC implemented”

Dr. Duffuor disclosed that government in a move to strengthen its internally generated funds has resolved to impress upon foreign mining companies to pay taxes every month instead of the four-month period.

Source: Today

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