The Ghana government has been advised to consider further cutting down expenditure apart from the fiscal measures introduced in 2023 to lessen the impact of the current economic crisis on citizens.
Mr George Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, Member of Parliament (MP) for Cape Coast South and Mr Martin Kpebu, a Private Legal Practitioner, are of the view that, that was the only way to “significantly” improve the economy.
Contributing to discussion on a local radio station in Accra, they asked the government to consider creating more fiscal space by reducing budget allocation for “non-critical” items.
This comes as the government makes efforts, including debt restructuring, to secure a $3 billion loan-support programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for economic recovery.
Mr Ricketts-Hagan said scrapping budget items like fuel coupons, salary cuts for some categories of government appointees and non-purchase of vehicles would not significantly impact on fiscal consolidation.
The lawmaker, therefore, called on the Government to further reduce its expenditure beyond the line items in the 2023 budget to include projects like the Agenda 111 [an initiative to build 111 hospitals to transform the country’s health care system].
He said: “The problem with this government is that they are doing everything they can except the necessary things they need to do. Unless they do something significant on the expenditure side and there are items they can look at and give them a haircut, to quote their words.”
He added that: “The projects that are non-critical at this stage should not be done; if those are cut, the expenditure will go further down so that we’ll be able to have room to do other things”.
Mr Kpebu, who supported the call for further expenditure cut said: “We are not seeing the impact of the cut of some expenditures by government. We’ve not been shown the deductions and what it’s been used for.”
He urged the Government to “cut down the budget on some of the line items and leave individual bondholders out of the Domestic Debt Exchange (DDE) programme”.
However, Mr Palgrave Boakye-Danquah, government spokesperson on governance and security, said: “With expenditure cuts, I believe that our government has cut down expenditure drastically.”
He added that: “We [the government] acknowledge the challenges and as a gov’t, we have come to the table to share with the Ghanaian people to see to it that we address these challenges.”
In a similar discussion on another platform, Mr Alhassan Suhuyini, Tamale North MP, called for a national debt forum to discuss and come to a consensus on ways to address the country’s debt and economic challenge.
He said, “there should be a forum where you have all the stakeholders sitting together to have a conversation, where it is frank, where you all know what you have to give and take and, especially where the government leads the way in shaving its hair.”