Accra , June 10, GNA -The Minority in Parliament on Monday reproached government for illegally making use of money from the Petroleum Stabilization Fund, accusing government of colluding with the Bank of Ghana to withdraw 177 million dollars from the Fund.
“We are in possession of evidence that shows that the government with the complicity of the Bank of Ghana has in fact illegally utilized the Petroleum Stabilization Fund”, said Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, Member of Parliament for New Juaben South, and spokesperson for the side, when addressing a press conference in Accra.
The Minority said government had violated the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (Act 815), taking money from the Fund, calling on Parliament to investigate the issue, and asking the government and the Bank of Ghana to “come clean on this”.
The press conference was called by the minority to respond to the Senchi Economic Forum, which they boycotted and the resultant Consensus, and to state the true state of the economy.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah said the outcome of the Senchi Economic Forum had vindicated the NPP’s assertion that the country was in crisis, because the 22-point summary of the event did not restore confidence in the economy and economic management.
He said several submissions made by the IMF, The World Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Fitch, Standard and Poors, Moody’s and, most recently, by Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Ghana’s longest serving Minister of Finance, showed that Ghana’s economy was in crisis.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah wondered how the Senchi Consensus was going to deal with the rising inflation and governments inability to meet statutory payments, a fast depreciating cedi and an on-going power crisis, asking rhetorically whether the country needed such a forum to arrive at that consensus organized at a high cost at the expense of the tax-payer.
He said it was overwhelming that the discussions at the Forum did not address the issue of corruption that had become a bane to the country.
“With the economy rapidly running out of international reserves, a rising inflation, government unable to meet statutory payments and thus piling up arrears, mounting arrears to contractors and also public sector wages and salaries, a rapidly depreciating currency which is happening on a daily basis, an ongoing power crisis, a continuing upward adjustment of petroleum prices attributable, primarily, to the daily fall of the cedi,a general increase in the cost of living and the cost of doing business, how is the Senchi consensus going to deal with these problems?
“It is clear that the Senchi Economic Forum did not restore confidence in the economy and economic management in general. If there is an implementation plan, it is not known to the public. The cedi has continued to depreciate, and is currently above GHC3.0 to the US dollar with no end in sight.
“Fellow Ghanaians it is instructive to note that the discussions at Senchi apparently did not reach any consensus on one of the most important issues bedeviling our economy: the issue of corruption. With corruption having been elevated to the level of a serious hallmark of this NDC government as regards Woyome, Isofoton, Waterville, Construction Pioneers and other Judgment debts, GYEEDA, SADA, SUBAH, the Merchant Bank and Ridge Hospital scandals, STX etc. how could the Senchi Consensus not have had a word about the canker of corruption?
Dr Assibey-Yeboah said government needed to be serious about salvaging the economy, proffering several measures which the Minority think government should implement as soon as practicable, to curb the current economic crisis.
He said government ought to admit that the economy was in crisis, in order to get the support it needs from Ghanaians to carry out the tough remedial measures needed to fix the problem.
Government, he said, must institute credible policies to court the trust and confidence of markets and investors, urging a refrain from making new promises and commitments of expenditure on new programmes, when statutory expenditures have not been met, as these reinforces the loss of confidence in the economy..
The Minority also urged government to restore fiscal discipline by ensuring that the country did not live beyond its means, and to put in place an effective legal framework to deter politicians from plundering the nation’s resources to the detriment of the poor.
They suggested that government reduced taxes to stimulate economic growth, explaining that higher taxes, as being exacted on virtually every good or service by government, to deal with the present economic difficulties have served to increase the cost of doing business in Ghana compared with neighbouring countries and would reduce economic growth.
“The plain truth is that import duties in Ghana are too high and discourage production and investment. In the globally competitive world that we find ourselves today, most countries that manufacture goods for export also import a significant proportion of their raw materials.
“These countries have come to understand that high import tariffs can increase their cost of production, and make them uncompetitive globally, and therefore to support higher production and exports, import tariffs are kept relatively low. The philosophy of taxing everything to raise revenue must be re-examined. It is possible for one to actually raise more revenue by reducing taxes to stimulate production,” the Minority said.
Government, the Minority said, should urgently cut down on borrowing, because this would worsen the country’s fiscal and current account situation and make Ghana’s debt unsustainable.
They also recommended that the Bank of Ghana reversed the directive forcing conversion into cedis of repatriated export earnings, and the forces conversion into cedis of withdrawals from foreign currency account to restore confidence in the banking system