General News

The 2023 Budget my Take – By Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

It is most unconscionable and unpardonably reckless in this period of economic crisis, austerity, haircuts and total freeze in public sector jobs for the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/Ofori-Atta government to massively increase allocation to the Contingency Vote from GHS993million in 2022 to a mind-boggling GHS1.4billion. (See page 209 of 2023 Budget).

One would have expected that at a time government is appealing to Ghanaians to burden share, the Contingency Vote allocation would be sharply declining and not witnessing a hefty addition in excess of GHS400million.

Ghanaians now know, thanks to the bizarre revelations by Ken Ofori-Atta during proceedings at his Vote of Censure Committee that the Contingency Vote had become the conduit for sleazy diversions. It will be recalled that Ken Ofori-Atta claimed at the hearings that he funded the President’s Cathedral from the Contingency Vote between 2019 and 2022.

Documents we demanded from Ken Ofori-Atta during the Censure hearings despite his initial feet dragging have shockingly confirmed that so far a colossal GHS339,003,064.86 has been unlawfully diverted into the abandoned cathedral project with Sir David Adjaye receiving an unbelievable GHS113,040,564.86— all these fantastic wastage and dubious opacity have been financed from the now infamous Contingency Vote. (See Ken Ofori-Atta’s admissions to the Vote of Censure Committee attached).

Significant and logical questions that arise are: why this astronomical increase in the Contingency Vote when putting priority concerns aside, a separate and legal allocation of GHS80million has this time been made for the Cathedral? Should that not have led to substantial decreases in the Contingency allocation? What new scheme of create, loot and squander is brewing for which a record breaking GHS1.4billion Contingency is required?

Don’t forget that only 2 years ago, specifically in the 2021 Budget, the Contingency Vote was comparably as low as GHS186.2million. (Validate this at page 227 of 2021 Budget).

Let’s put the current GHS1.4billion in proper perspective — the amount is more than twice the entire 2023 allocation to Parliament which is some GHS645.8million; the scandalous Contingency Vote provision is also three times higher than the entire 2023 allocation to the Judiciary (including judicial service) which is GHS437.3million; the outrageous GHS1.4billion is also far higher than allocations to several ministries including National Security, Attorney General, Works and Housing, Communications, Railway Development, Chieftaincy, Employment, Transport, Fisheries, Lands and Natural Resources, Trade and Industry, Tourism, Environment, Energy, Foreign Affairs, Information and Parliamentary Affairs.

It is equally disconcerting to discover that the insensitive GHS1.4billion Contingency allocation is higher than 14 out of Government’s 16 Flagship Initiatives. (Refer to page 229; Appendix 6 of 2023 Budget).

If the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/Ofori-Atta government is really sincere about cutting their expenditure, they ought to be dealing with this Contingency Monster and not trivials such as hampers, diaries and workshops.

It beats my imagination that government has GHS1.4billion to spend in just one year as contingency, and yet refuses to use that money to employ the youth in critical sectors such as Education, Health and The Interior even as millions of jobless Ghanaians languish at home, particularly as unemployment has now reached an all-time high according to latest population census figures.

Clearly, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/Ofori-Atta government is escalating on a grander scale instead of departing from its gross economic mismanagement and insatiable appetite for reckless expenditure which has created the current economic crisis, debt overhang, and the resultant painful and crude haircuts.

Government must expect that this GHS1.4billion outlandish Contingency Vote allocation shall face stiff resistance from our side in Parliament.

This sleazy, sordid, shady, selfish and scandalous GHS1.4billion Contingency Vote allocation will only worsen ongoing labour agitations for better working conditions and lead to widespread justifiable refusal by the suffering Ghanaian people to burden share with a regime that is unhinged and irredeemable.

Comments are closed.