A Joy News Forum on the 2019 budget drew a laughter from the audience after they found, 98.5% of all the taxes collected are used to pay salaries.
The laughter left an aftertaste of misery because it became clear, government has peanuts left for its grand plans.
What can a government do with 1.5% of its total tax revenue? What are its options for funding? What can a government do to improve the lives of ordinary Ghanaians with 1.5% of its revenue left for everything else? And what do you prioritise?
In a UNICEF sponsored discussion at the Alisa Hotel, Joy FM’s Ghana Connect assembled Economist and lecturer of University of Ghana Associate Professor Eric Osei Assibey, President of think-tank IMANI Ghana Franklin Cudjoe and a Technical advisor, Dr. Kwadwo Mensah Abrampah who is at the Ministry of Planning and Florence Ayisi Quartey from the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection.
After the laughter died down however, Franklin Cudjoe did not find government was worth any sympathy. If there is so little money, why is the government keeping as many as a 110 ministers, he repeated his criticism of the largest government in Ghana’s history.
The policy expert recommended the scrapping of the Ministry for Special Development Initiatives headquartered at the presidency on a 3bn cedi budget.
He dismissed the government’s justification for creating extra bureaucratic layers in the form of three Development Authorities and also condemned as needless, government throwing money into the creation of six new regions.
The problem of budgetary constraints, he said is down to a fat powerful central government that wastes public money on itself.
Economist Dr. Eric Osei Assibey complained government is not targeting the poor enough and rather simply allocates funds to its various departments
Technical advisor, Dr. Kwadwo Mensah Abrampah who is at the Ministry of Planning pointed out, Ghana can address inequality by focusing on an interesting feature of the country’s demographic which is the youth. Ghana has a young age structure, with approximately 57% of the population under the age of 25..
“The structure of our population is even telling us that we need to do something about education and skills development”, he said. If government fails to invest in this bulging structure, the inequality will only widen.
Technical advisor, Dr. Kwadwo Mensah Abrampah who is at the Ministry of Planning.
Economist and lecturer of University of Ghana Associate Professor Eric Osei Assibey