National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Sammy Gyamfi has said that the attempt by the Akufo-Addo-led government to blame the worsening debt position on Covid-19 is untenable and laughable, to say the least.
This is because, he explains, the public debt was already increasing at an alarming rate and had reached unsustainable levels, with a debt to GDP ratio of 63%, even before “we were hit by the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.Therefore, the claim by government spokespersons that Covid-19 is what has accounted for our current unsustainable and catastrophic debt situation, is not borne out by the facts”.
His comments come after Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the debt projection does not matter as much as the lives of the people for whose welfare the government spent.
“When you discount what was spent on the financial service and on the energy sector, that brings it back. I guess the question for any nation at this pandemic time is, what you put forward first,” Mr Ofori-Atta told Media General’s Etornam Sey.
“The lives of the people who then become productive or you stick to some statistical numbers as an issue from stopping you from saving lives. I think we have chosen the latter.”
But speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, October 28, Sammy Gyamfi said: “What is even sad and bizarre about the unsustainable and catastrophic debt situation President Akufo-Addo has plunged Ghana is that this government cannot show any significant or self-financing projects that their unprecedented borrowings have been used for. Unlike President Mahama who can point to many tangible, significant and in some cases, self-financing projects that he undertook with the about GHS70 billion he added to the public debt during his tenure in office, President Akufo-Addo cannot boast of any significant or self-financing projects he has undertaken with the over GHS138 billion he has added to the country’s public debt in the last three-and-a-half years.
“For instance, whereas, [former] President Mahama can boast of dozens of hospitals and health facilities such as the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (The Ridge Hospital), The University of Ghana Medical Center, The Ga East Municipal Hospital, The Upper West Regional Hospital, The rehabilitation of the Upper East Regional Hospital, among others, President Akufo Addo cannot boast of a single hospital he has built for Ghanaians since he took office. Also, whereas President Mahama can boast of commencing the construction of 123 new Community Day Senior High Schools (E-Blocks), 46 of which he fully completed, President Akufo-Addo cannot boast of a single secondary school he has built since 2017, despite his unprecedented borrowings. Worse of it all, is that President Akufo-Addo has abandoned most of the infrastructural projects he inherited from the erstwhile Mahama government to rot.
“The reason why President Akufo-Addo has very little show for the unprecedented resource envelope that has accrued to his government is that, he has wasted the chunk of the monies on consumption, corruption and wasteful expenditures. His misplaced priorities is what has plunged Ghana into the catastrophic debt situation and economic quagmire we presently find ourselves.
“As a result of his unbridled penchant for borrowing, President Akufo-Addo has encumbered most of the country’s revenue streams by mortgaging our bauxite deposits to Sinohydro, and the GETFUND and ESLA for loans which he has wasted on consumption-related expenditures, rather than investments in meaningful projects. This will deprive future governments and generations who will have the burden of paying for these wasted borrowing of revenue for development.
“Friends from the media, after all the mouthwatering promises of the NPP and their boastful claims that they are better managers of the economy, all available economic indicators show, that President Akufo-Addo has supervised the worst mismanagement of Ghana’s economy since independence. It has become evident, that all the talk about being better managers of the economy, were all lies calculated for votes and nothing more.”