President Akufo-Addo inspecting the guard of honour at Parliament House on Tuesday. Picture By Gifty Ama Lawson
The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament has challenged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to tell Ghanaians how he was able to get $13 million to pay the arrears of allowances of military personnel on peacekeeping operations, if indeed he had inherited a bad economy as he indicated in his State of the Nation address.
Addressing a press conference yesterday in reaction to the State of the Nation address delivered by President Akufo-Addo on Tuesday in parliament, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said he (president) must “stop the partisan propaganda” which he rode on to become president and rather assign himself to the reality of fulfilling the numerous promises he made to Ghanaians during the campaign period.
President Akufo-Addo had said that Ghana’s debt has reached unsustainable level with the debt stock standing at an alarming GH¢122 billion as at December 2016 from GH¢9.5 billion in 2009.
The president indicated, “By the end of 2016, the debt stock had ballooned to GH¢122 billion,” representing 74 percent of the country’s GDP.
He further revealed that “More debt was accumulated by the previous NDC government in the last eight years than all other governments put together since independence!” and that “92% of Ghana’s total debt stock was incurred in the last eight years under the previous government.”
The interest costs on this debt alone, he said, “have also increased and will amount to an estimated GH¢14.1 billion in 2017.”
According to the minority leader, the president was very partisan in selecting sectors that would let the immediate past NDC government look bad in the eyes of the public.
He said in commenting on those sectors, a lot of propaganda was spewed out by President Akufo-Addo to make little problems associated with those sectors look insurmountable.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu said the president intentionally left out areas like housing and water where the previous government had chalked great successes so that credit would not be given to the past government.
“Nothing was heard from the president on several initiatives by the NDC government which have created new sources of revenue to support economic growth and help meet some expenditure items,” he noted, stressing that a case in point is the Sinking Fund established by the NDC government through which over $350 million has been realized to help pay off the $750 million Eurobond floated by the then NPP government in 2007.
“This selective approach by the president when discussing the economy is symptomatic of the general lack of candour by the NPP in matters relating to the economy,” he said, adding that the NDC did sufficient work to facilitate further economic growth and its consolidation.
The minority leader said President Akufo-Addo did propaganda on the actual amount of the country’s debt stock.
According to him, it is not true that the NDC added GH¢122 billion to the debt stock of the country and that by their figures, the actual amount the NDC borrowed over the last eight years was GH¢87 billion.
Mr Iddrisu said the nation’s debt stock stood at $8.075 billion when the NDC took over power from the New Patriotic Party in 2009 and now in dollar terms, the nation’s debt is $28.37 billion – meaning the NDC borrowed $20 billion which is equivalent to GH¢87 billion.
He said it is also ironical that after making such loud noises about borrowing and vowing not to borrow, the NPP has indicated its intent to borrow a colossal GH¢17 billion from the domestic bond market in the first quarter of this year.
He observed that after all, the loans contracted by the NDC government were used for massive infrastructural projects like roads, schools, hospitals, transportation, housing, water and communications, among others, which in itself also created jobs for many Ghanaians.
According to the minority leader, it was not surprising that President Akufo-Addo refused to talk about these aforementioned sectors in his address because if he had done that, the abysmal performance of the previous NPP government would have been exposed.
There was an interesting scenario at the press conference when members of the minority descended heavily on a journalist who had sought to find out if the NDC assumed power in possibly eight years’ time, it would subscribe to a similar press conference criticizing (NDC) government on a State of the Nation address.
However, the minority members claimed that they were not ready to stay in opposition for eight years and so he should withdraw his question.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr