Parliament has begun debating the 2021 budget statement and financial policy of government presented to the House last Friday by Majority leader Minister and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Government Business, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.
The presentation was a requirement of Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 21(3) of the Public Financial Management Act, Act 921.
The Majority leader, who has been appointed Caretaker Finance Minister in the absence of Mr. Ken Ofori Atta, indicated the 2021 Budget is a landmark Budget that recounts Ghana’s experience in the most difficult combination of health and economic crises that the nation has ever encountered.
These indicators, he said, clearly demonstrate that government has weathered the storm and is now ready to storm ahead, which has been accomplished through the decisive leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
According to him, the 2021 Budget outlines the President’s programmes for accelerated recovery from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It explains government’s plans to emerge stronger by pressing on with economic transformation, strengthening the social compact and building a sustainable future to create prosperity and equal opportunity for all.
Moving the motion to commence the debate yesterday, Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah stated that while government has introduced measures in the Budget to raise revenue, it has also introduced measures aimed at easing the burden of doing business on segments of the economy.
Government, he said, introduced the sanitation levy and increased corporate tax in order raise the required revenue targets to recover the economy from the challenges of the pandemic and invest in things that will bring growth and jobs.
He argued that government also introduced a number of reliefs to ease the burden on various sectors of the economy.
He said, “These include for example the provision of rebate of 30% on income tax due to companies in the hotel, restaurant, education, art and entertainment and the travel and tour industries for the second, third and fourth quarter of 2021.”
“Government is also suspending quarterly income tax for the last three quarters of the year for small businesses using the income tax stamp system and the quarterly installment payment of vehicle income tax for the last three quarters of the year for Trotros and Taxis.”
Ranking Member of Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson who seconded the Motion stated that government should not blame the COVID-19 pandemic for Ghana’s economic mess.
He accused the Finance Minister of misrepresenting the economic figures in order to hide the true nature of the economy to the Ghanaian people.
He said, “An amount of GH¢5.1 billion was excluded from the fiscal while an amount of GH¢3.1 billion being cost of the financial sector clean up was again excluded from the fiscal.”
He averred that the misreporting was clear from day one from 2018 to 2019, and stressed in 2019 government increased the public debt by nominal terms by GH¢25.2 billion and not GH¢16.8 billion as captured in the budget.
He warned that he will not support the Budget until the Finance Minister takes steps correct the anomalies and misrepresented figures.