Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Minority Leader, Monday said the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government has deepened the woes of Ghanaians rather helping to solve their challenges.
“Mr Speaker, the Finance Minister says the economic performance of the nation shows that we have turned the corner (recovering from the difficult situation. However, the evidence and the numbers before us show that our woes have rather deepened…,” he said.
The Minority Leader made the remarks after Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, had presented to Parliament the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government.
“The Finance Minister has said to us today that he is reversing economic growth from 2.8 per cent of Gross Domestic Products (GDP) to 1.50 of GDP… This clearly shows that the economy is contracting and declining,” he said.
“Mr Speaker, I say this because he (the Finance Minister) said to us here and now that he had borrowed GH₵5.5 billion from January to June from the Treasury Bill Market.”
“Mr Speaker, not long ago, the Minister had informed us that he would not borrow at all in the year 2023… However, the Minister says going into the remaining part of the year he was going to borrow another GH₵41.00 billion.”
Dr Forson said the cedi depreciation Ghanaians were seeing was largely because the Minister had defaulted in the payment of external interests and principals.
“Let our Minister not say anywhere that he has turned the corner, he has rather deepened our woes,” he said.
Speaking to the Parliamentary Press Corps moments after the Budget presentation, Dr Forson said Government's continuous borrowing was a contributory factor to the high inflation rate, adding: “No wonder the Central Bank is busily increasing Monetary Policy rates and the lending rate is still going up”.
He said Ghana had the opportunity to reduce lending rates to under 15 per cent, but, unfortunately, due to the activities of Government, particularly the over borrowing and over expenditure, Ghana's lending rates and market rates were still going up.
He said Treasury Bill rates, not long ago, were about 14 per cent, however, “currently it is about 23 to 25 per cent. This might end up in the 30s before the year ends.”
Touching on the stabilisation of the Ghana Cedi, Dr Forson noted that it had stabilised relatively due to the country's default in the payment of its external debts.
“Looking into the Budget, by this time Ghana should have serviced its external debts, approximately 11 million Ghana Cedis,” he said.
However, the Minority Leader said the country had defaulted in servicing its debts owed to Eurobond and countries like China, Saudi Arabia, India, the United Kingdom (UK), Japan, France, and the Czech Republic.
“As early as January 2024, we will start serving these debts, and if we are to start servicing these debts, don't be surprised that our currency, the cedi, will start depreciating once again.”