Banking Consultant, Dr Richmond Atuahene, has punched holes into the Finance Minister’s intention to spend GH₵6.3 billion more for the second half of 2019.
Although Parliament has approved the funds requested by Ken Ofori-Atta during the presentation of the 2019 Mid-year Review and Supplementary Budget, Dr Atuahene said the economy will pay dearly for that.
“The economy is not really seeing growth at all. Times are very hard. If you asked businessmen today, they would tell you times very hard. So I would have thought that for financial discipline, [Finance Minister] should have stayed within what he originally he presented,” he said Thursday on PM Express.
Although Parliament approved over GH₵78 billion for 2019, Ken Ofori-Atta in the Mid-year Review pushed this appropriation to GH₵85 billion to enable the economy to cater for some additional programmes.
“It looks to me that he is too aggressive,” he surmised.
Ken Ofori-Atta had said in the budget review that Ghana was paying some GH₵2.5 billion annually for the power it does not need, blaming the previous government for burdening the economy with take-or-pay Power Purchase Agreements.
But Dr Atuahene doses not seem convinced that excess payment for energy is a good justification for increasing the expenditure for the rest of 2019.
He said if that was the case, Mr Ofori-Atta should have mentioned it as early as the very first budget he presented in 2017.
“Is this the third budget? Why didn’t he talk about this the first day? Now we have lost $500 million multiplied by whatever rate. It means we have lost about $1.5 billion in revenue. Why is he talking about it now and did not talk about this the last time? Is it negligence or what?
“ I think that the take-or-pay, immediately you came to power, that should have been the first thing you should have done. I think it is too late to come now and say because of that you are tight. Being proactive, I think he should have done that…what assurances do we have that we can generate the revenue that he anticipates?” he quizzed.
He said from the look of things, it is clear the government intends to borrow to make up revenue shortfall – a situation he finds disturbing.
According to him, the government was plunging the country into abject poverty with its large appetite for borrowing to run the country.