Parliament has approved government’s 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented to Parliament by Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance on November 15, 2017.
Though, the Minority in Parliament took part in the debate they abstained from the vote, with the Majority shouting a resounding “I” to the speaker’s question for approval or rejection of the budget.
With the two weeks of debate on the budget over, the various Committees in Parliament would now be tasked with assessing the estimates and allocations made to the various sectors in the budget.
The Minority in Parliament had earlier called for the budget statement to be withdrawn, saying that government had reviewed some key economic targets without recourse to the House.
Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on Finance had stated that Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance cannot revise the expenditures and revenue without Parliamentary approval.
However, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng, Deputy Minister of Finance dismissed the issues raised by the Minority, saying that, government cannot premise its budget on the previous one passed by Parliament, while ignoring the realities on the ground.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance in making his concluding remarks on the budget debate, said the government of Nana Akufo-Addo has kept faith with the people of Ghana by delivering on his campaign promises such as the free SHS programme.
He said the macroeconomic stability with respect to inflation is down, the country’s currency has been reasonably stable, the nation’s reserves are about $7billion, and that, the intention of the 2018 budget is to build on the solid foundation laid in the 2017 fiscal year.
He said the issue of jobs for the youth is a national matter and that’s why the government was introducing the Nation’s Builders Core to employ 100,000 graduates to be deployed into teaching, the health sector and farming among others.
Mr Ofori-Atta said next year the government intends increasing the revenue mobilisation effort in the country. He said the GH?41 billion revenue collected in 2017 was 27 per cent above the 2016 target and 16 per cent of the country’s GDP, adding that, Ghana, being in the lower middle income bracket, should be doing 20 per cent of GDP.
He expressed the hope that the National Addressing System and the National Identification project would take Ghanaians into an electronic platform to enhance tax collection. Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader in his submission, commended members of both sides of the House for subjecting the budget statement to intense scrutiny before it was passed.
He said the 2018 budget holds the key to the progress of the nation and accused the Minority of engaging in pedestrian arguments. Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minority leader criticised government policies and programmes outlined in the budget and also questioned why the President moved the free SHS Programme from the education ministry to the Presidency.