Minority rejects debt restructuring as announced by Finance Minister

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The Minority in Parliament has served notice to the government that it will not support the debt restructuring programme as announced by the Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta.

According to the Minority, it simply cannot agree to the programme because it has dire consequences on the financial sector, on pension funds and jobs.

Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu who gave the warning during an engagement with the media on Monday in Parliament lamented that Ghana has become the first African country in Africa to announce domestic debt exchange.

Ghana, he said, has officially defaulted in the repayment of the terms of its existing domestic debt and joins Greece and Jamaica who have done the same in the last ten years.

He noted that the Finance Minister’s admission that Ghana’s debt is unsustainable and cannot be served fully if the GH¢137 billion domestic debt is not structured comes too late in a day for quick salvation.

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu stated that the NDC Minority has been consistent on the matter and warned the government against engaging in reckless borrowing and expending it wastefully.

He demanded why the contours of the debt exchange programme were not announced in Parliament during the 2023 budget consistent with the 1992 Constitution and questioned how such a policy step of this dimension was not part of the Finance Minister’s presentation to Parliament.

Parliament, the leader stressed, needs to be informed of the socio-economic impact of government programmes to the extent these are not appropriate and specifically espoused in the economic policy section of the budget.

Hon. Haruna Iddrisu also warned the Minority will not accept the outrageous GHC1.4billion allocation as a contingency vote contained at page 209 of the 2023 Budget statement, which is an additional GH¢400million compared with last year’s allocation of GH¢993million. This, he said, cannot be happening in a period of austerity.

“If ever there was proof that this government has lost its way and shown itself unworthy of the trust of the people of Ghana, this would be it.”

“We in the Minority wish to make it very clear, that if we do not see significant improvement in the attitude of the Majority side and sector Ministers do not turn up to lead the Budget process on their sectors, we will withdraw from the Budget process.”

“We will no longer countenance this embarrassing gross dereliction of duty to the people of Ghana,” he warned.

e-levy

The Minority leader stressed the position of the Minority on the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-levy) remains unchanged and insisted it is a setback to a cashless economy.

He questioned why the GH¢100 threshold for e-levy deductions is being abolished and asked whether the poor and the vulnerable will be protected and suggested at least a GH¢300 threshold with a reduction in the principal from 1.7 to 1%.

2.5% increase in VAT

Speaking on the 2.5% increase, the Minority leader questioned the moral right of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to have VAT increased when led the ‘Kumi preko’ demonstration in 1995 that resulted in the loss of five lives.

He averred that while whittling away the little the country has in an intransigent manner, the government decided to pile more hardships on Ghanaians through the introduction of more taxes in the 2023 Budget.

“As sure as night follows day, this will worsen the hardship faced by Ghanaians, as the prices of almost all items will increase instantaneously once this tax comes into effect.”

“As Social Democrats, we of the NDC stock have never been against taxation per se, but we are simply unable to agree with the steep increase and timing of the introduction of these tax measures.”

He assured the Minority would continue to fight to preserve the interest of the Ghanaian people and prevent the government from damaging the economy and bringing more pain and hardships.

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