The ranking member on parliament’s Finance Committee, Cassiel Ato Forson wants Ghanaians to ignore government’s promise of fixing all of the country’s road network following its declaration of 2020 as a year of roads.
The Finance Minister in delivering the 2020 budget statement stressed a focus on fixing roads across the country in 2020 and beyond having identified what he described as “critical roads” across each of the 16 regions in the country.
But speaking on Eyewitness News, Ato Forson accused the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) of failing to take pragmatic measures to fix the poor road network in parts of the country given what he says is the manipulation of the country’s road funds.
This according to him, makes government’s promise one that smacks of deliberate fabrication of lies.
“Their so-called new roads [declaration] is a hoax. Currently, the government collects monies from Excise for the purposes of fixing some of the roads. For the year 2020, the government has projected to rake in revenue of GHS 1.7million from taxes.”
That money is supposed to go to the road sector to fix our roads. One would have thought that once the Minister has made a bold announcement, that money must go to the road sector but you know what he did? He has only allocated an amount of GHC1 billion and GHC14 million to the Ghana road fund – taking GHC700 million from road fund for consumption, how can he fix the roads? Within a period of four years, the government has reduced the road fund allocation.”
Government cooking economic figures
Mr. Forson also accused the Finance Minister of cooking up figures in order to paint a good picture of the economy.
He claims that the Minister understated the deficit by over GHC5 million.
The 2020 Budget Statement captures the 2019 deficit of GHC18.9 billion representing 4.7% of GDP.
But Cassiel Ato Forson says the figures are suspicious.
“To be honest, the economy is not well. One of the things I get worried about is about the treatment of some critical items in the fiscal policy. A typical one is the treatment of the Energy sector payment. This administration has decided to adopt an unorthodox account and fiscal reporting whereas they have decided to classify that payment as amortization.”
“What it means is that they have excluded it from the expenditure payment. That expenditure minus that revenue will give you the deficit which is understated 5.1 billion cedis. That is why I said the numbers are cooked. The fiscal deficit as the Minister is reporting is lower because of that amount.”
Agitations over poor road network
The deplorable state of the road in parts of the country has become a challenge to many in Ghana.
Recently, most residents who have been outraged by poor roads have resorted to series of protests to pile pressure on authorities to get their roads fixed.
They have been burning tyres and wielding placards with varied inscriptions to have their roads which are full of potholes and bumps fixed