Cassiel Ato Forson, Member of Parliament for the Ajumako Enyan Essiam Constituency, has offered to give assistance to the government on how to free up funds in the 2023 budget.
The Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of the House believes that such savings would allow the government to have fiscal leverage to exclude individual bondholders from the Domestic Debt Exchange programme.
Savings of GH¢8 billion possible
According to Ato Forson, there are a litany of expenditures he described as “frivolous and wasteful” which if cut out would help government make savings to the tune of GH¢8 billion.
His January 17, 2023 tweet sighted by GhanaWeb read: “Folks, I am available to assist the government in identifying frivolous and wasteful expenditures in the budget to free-Up the needed 8bn so that individual bondholders are exempt! You can’t continue to live large on the savings of pensioners etc!”
Ato Forson describes Ofori-Atta as ‘driver banza’
Ato Forson has been one of the fiercest critics of the embattled Finance Minister with his latest jab at Ken Ofori-Atta labelling the minister as a reckless driver.
“Every reckless driver is referred to as ‘driver banza’ in my local parlance … if you are in a car with such a driver, people get angry and demand that he descends so that another person takes control of the car and drive it to safety.
“Where we have gotten to, the finance minister is a reckless driver, he has taken this country to a point of no return, he has driven this country into a ditch.
“He is a reckless driver and he has to step aside. Let’s give this country to a competent hand to drive this country to safety,” the former deputy finance minister submitted on the January 16 edition of Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen.
Ghana had a torrid 2022 amid an economic crisis that forced the government to seek an International Monetary Fund (IMF) facility at a time when the cedi was rapidly depreciating, inflation was galloping, and the government was faced with multiple downgrades by rating agencies.
The government has repeatedly blamed the crisis partly on the aftershocks of the COVID pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
It has promised to turn around the economic fortunes of the country after sealing a staff-level agreement with the IMF late last year, with hopes that funds from the US$3 billion facility will be released early this year.
Domestic Debt Exchange facing hurdles
The government is hamstrung by hurdles as it attempts to secure a deal with its Domestic Debt Exchange programme, a key metric to secure a board approval of the IMF Extended Credit Facility.
Organized labour successfully fought off plans to include pensions in the DDE; now individual bondholders are also rejecting plans to include them.