Finance minister finally vindicates Kwame Pianim



Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has admitted that there is no money confirming his critics, including a staunch member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwame Pianim, that his handling of the Ghanaian economy has been poor.

Ken Ofori-Atta, conceded that, although demand by public sector workers for salary increment is legitimate, the government has no money at the moment to meet the demands hence efforts to generate domestic revenue but failed to speak about the ostentatious lifestyle of Akufo-Addo administration including having the President flying on a private jet coasting Ghanaians US$14,000, an hours.

His current 10-day trip to Europe is priced at GHC5 million minus hotel bills, food, traveling allowances, medical bills among others.

In December, last year, Kwame Pianim, remarked that the recent challenges in the country indicates that Mr Ofori-Atta has badly managed the economy. Some have asked President Nana Akufo-Addo, replace his cousin and bring in some new heads and hands to revive the economy as the change could boost confidence in the economy.

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Ken Ofori-Atta, speaking in Wa in the Upper West Region during the fourth town hall meeting on the E-levy, on Monday February 21, he said “I look at teachers and civil servants for example, and I will be the first to admit that the salaries are indecent, nobody will argue with that. At the same time, it is 60 percent of all the revenue we collect from 700,000 people [go into salary payment,] that is also a fact.

“So yes, there is a legitimate demand for more and there is a legitimate reality that there is no money. So what do we do as a society? Then you ask me to give you more salary, which is fine, then I say but it is your colleague civil servant who collect the money collecting the money, so how can you responsible for collecting the money, not collect it and then tell me to give you the money. That will be another issue.”

He reiterated the need for Ghanaians to support moves by the Akufo-Addo-led government to impose a tax on electronic transactions.

Initially proposed to be pegged at 1.75 percent, the government has now reviewed the rate to 1.5 percent but the levy is still facing resistance by a section of the Ghanaian public and the Minority in Parliament.

The government has since been on a tour of the country engaging the public in what has been christened ‘Government Townhall Meeting on E-Levy’ aimed at rallying support for the proposed tax policy.

Mr Ofori-Atta, said the government needs the money to be able to take care of critical government expenditure in addition to building infrastructure and creating jobs.

He said even though the E-Levy may not bring in a lot of money, what would be realized should be enough to support the government.

He added that had the Minority not resisted the policy, the government would have started realizing money which would have been used to pay the District Assembly Common Fund.

“E-levy as small as you might think, it will be GH¢7 billion, starting this year if we had started early so we could pay your District Assembly Common Fund but your [opposition] sitting on it,” he said.

The Minister observed that the majority of the Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 11 constituencies in the Upper West are NDC and that he is not surprised they do not support the e-levy.

“If I look at Upper West where we have 11 constituencies…we have 340,000 people being youth with serious issues of unemployment with eight of our MPs coming from the NDC. What reason will they have to support an e-levy which is looking about GH¢10 billion intervention called YouStart which is looking at getting to the heart of employment,” he said.

“Hate NPP all you want but what about your 340,000 youth who need jobs? What is the reason?” he wondered.

In an interview on TV3, last year on TV3‘s New Day, Wednesday, December 22, Mr Painim, said the excessive borrowing of the current government is leading to high public sector debts.

“No, he hasn’t done a good job, he is over borrowing, we are not getting value for money”, he said.

He added “Ofori Atta needs to realise that he is not just a budget and expenditure minister, he is minister of finance. Finance means growing the economy. One of the things that this government said was that they are going to move away from the Guggisberg economy.

“Guggisberg developed and expended the cocoa industry so there was a steam of income, he built the ports, and he built the schools. By the time Guggisberg left we had reserves, we were not in debt. So the economy that Ken Ofori Atta is trying to build is an economy that thrives on expenditure and debt.”

Mr Painim further revealed that Ofori-Atta does not pick his calls.

“The Finance Minister doesn’t take my phone calls,” he remonstrated. “The Deputy [Finance Minister] took. I reached out. I talked to the president.”

The Yale-trained investment consultant minced no words when he said Mr Ofori-Atta has badly managed the economy and will go down in history as the Finance Minister who has borrowed more than all his predecessors.

“He has over-borrowed [and we are not getting value for money,” Mr Pianim stated.

“And he needs to realise that he is not just a budget and expenditure minister, he is Minister for Finance. Finance means growing the economy.”

He shot down the recently captured Electronics Transactions Levy, widely known as e-levy, in the 2022 budget, saying it is a wrong move to raise funds for infrastructure and, therefore, must be abandoned.

“We have to go back to the basics. This expenditure, what is it on it for? Do we get value for money?”

Asked by presenter Berla Mundi why he would not make his suggestions available to the government given his membership of the ruling NPP, the former board chairman of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) said Mr Ofori-Atta does not pick his calls.

“The Finance Minister doesn’t take my phone calls,” he remonstrated. “The Deputy [Finance Minister] took. I reached out. I talked to the president.”

He confirmed that about three weeks ago, he reached out to the President, whom he exonerates as picking his calls but “he is very busy”.

“Finance Minister doesn’t take my phone calls.

“Even when I reached out to his Personal Assistants to book an appointment, he doesn’t give me an appointment.

“They know what they are doing.”

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