Financial analyst and anti-corruption campaigner, Sydney Casely- Hayford has hit hard at Ghana's 2016 Budget statement read on Friday by the Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper.
The Budget which was labelled "Consolidating Progress towards a Brighter Medium Term” did not contain detailed strategies about how government was going to get the fiscal problems of the country back on track.
" This is not how a budget reads like. This is not how to put a budget is put together. You cannot have wishy-washy statements that you cannot substantiate"
Even though the financial analyst concedes that what the finance minister delivered was a summary of a hopefully more detailed budget, Sydney Casely- Hayford expected a laid- down plan for fiscal discipline.
" You cannot say blankly that you are going to instill fiscal discipline, but you don't spell exactly how, that becomes a figment of imagination."
Sydney again hit at the part of the budget where the finance minister said government plans to block revenue leakages. The financial analyst said,
" Which revenue leakages are you talking about? Where exactly do you want to block these leakages? Is it at GRA, is it at the ports, where exactly, and how exactly?", Sydney quizzed.
He added, "This document that is supposed to be a budget, does not constitute a budget. It is a story. This thing (the budget) has become like a Kwaku Ananse(folk tale) story."
The 2016 budget is supposed to be a twin year budget for the 2016 and 2017 geared towards consolidating Ghana's middle income country, under the guidance of the IMF. Speaking on the Big Issues, Casely-Hayford said,
"I expected detailed pragmatic solutions as to how we are going to turn around the main problem of constant budget deficits due to shortfalls in revenue generation, and increased expenditure. You see, you need to concentrate on the fiscal performance. Forget the macroindicators. Once we get the fiscal performance on track, everything else will fall in place."
About deficits, government will have to find additional revenue to finance a project shortfall in revenue in the 2016 budget to the tune of over GHC10 billion, representing 8.3 percent of GDP.
In his three hour address to parliament on Friday, Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, revealed financial expenditure forcasts for 2016 at 47 billion Ghana Cedis.
This represents an18 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and a 13 percent increase on 2015's total expenditures.
While, Total Revenue targets for 2016 is GHC38 billion. This includes total oil revenues, taxes, and grants.
Non-oil total revenue forcast is 36 billion Ghana Cedis. This will be an 18.2 percent increase over 2015's total revenues.