Once more, the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in parliament has failed to use their numbers to ensure that the much-criticised 2021 budget does not get a parliamentary nod.
In the hung Parliament of 137 MPs for the NDC and 137 for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), political observers had expected that the tax-filled budget would not sail through easily. But after it was put to votes, all 137 NPP MPs voted in favour of the budget while only 134 NDC MPs voted against it.
Apparently, three of their colleagues did not turn up in the chamber when the votes were cast today.
The three absentees include Benjamin Komla Kpodo, who reportedly buried his mother today; Samuel Atta Mills who also reportedly buried his late sister today and Dr. Augustine Tawiah who is reportedly battling COVID-19 complications.
Earlier, the NDC Minority served notice of rejecting the 2021 budget over what it terms deceptive reporting of the 2020 deficit figures and inexplicable taxes in the time of COVDI-19 distress.
According to the caucus, the budget statement sought to blame COVID-19 for what it calls the abysmal performance of the economy in the 2020 fiscal year in particular.
The NDC says the abysmal performance of the Akufo Addo as captured in the 2021 budget statement was a result of “mismanagement and uncontrolled expenditure and sheer lack of prudence accounted for the poor performance of the economy.”
The caucus dismissed the government’s excuse that its high deficit, high public debt and investment in infrastructure was as a result of COVID-19.
Addressing the media yesterday March 18, Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu argued that the government hid a number of expenditures including the cost of the banking sector clean-up.
In a statement issued in this regard, the minority in a number of demands noted that “for the 2019 fiscal year Government reported a fiscal deficit of 4.8% of GDP. Whilst at the same time as confirmed by the IMF in their April 2020 staff report a fiscal deficit of 7.5% of GDP.”
The statement went on “we demand that the fiscal deficit including arrears for the year 2020 be corrected in the budget statement to reflect the actual figure of 17.5% of GDP. Fiscal deficit for the year 2020 of 13.8% of GDP as stated by the Ministry of Finance excludes an amount of GHS6.2 billion being what Government refers to as Energy sector payments.”
However, at the crucial moment, the NDC once more fell short of pushing through is threats against the passage of the budget.
This was the second time the NDC had “missed the boat” and had sparked anger among its grassroots that some of its MPs have been compromised by the NPP.
In the first instance, the NDC failed to mobilise its numbers in the chamber to reject a number of ministerial nominees that it had earlier promised to torpedo.