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GHANA: Did Ken Really Forget?

Ken Ofori-Atta Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, on the authority of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, and in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, and Section 21(3) of the PFM Act 2016 (ACT 921), presented the Budget Statement for 2020 to Parliament earlier this week.

Ofori-Atta begun his long speech by declaring that 2019 had indeed been “a very good year for Ghana”. He waxed poetic about how “God’s blessing of the hard work” had helped the incumbent administration win some painful battles “for God and country”.

Ofori-Atta spoke of the economic growth rate doubling under the Akufo-Addo administration, moving from 3.4% in 2016 (the lowest GDP growth rate since 1994) to an average of 7%. Inflation rate also fell from 15.4% in December 2016 to 7.6% as at September 2019 (registering the lowest rate in 27 years).

The Minister of Finance spoke about all these and more except the critical Volta Regional roads.

Was the omission of what is described as critical Volta Regional roads from the 2020 Budget statement really a mere oversight? Or is this another win for public pressure on government to do the needful?

Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, on the authority of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, and in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, and Section 21(3) of the PFM Act 2016 (ACT 921), presented the Budget Statement for 2020 to Parliament earlier this week.

Maybe this wasn’t a scandal after all. The Minister of Finance has presented to Parliament a list of critical Volta Regional roads omitted from the 2020 Budget statement, asking Parliament to amend the budget with the new list. He claims his attention was drawn to the omission by the Volta Regional Minister and Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu.

“On Wednesday, 13th November 2019, I presented the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government of Ghana on behalf of the President of the Republic of Ghana. Following my presentation to this August House, the honourable Volta Regional Minister and the honourable Minister for Energy drew my attention to an omission of the Volta Region from the list of critical roads listed in Table 21 of the budget statement. My checks confirm, Mr. Speaker, the inadvertent omission of Volta Region. All the Regional Ministers, Mr. Speaker, were requested to submit a list of critical roads which required immediate attention. At the instance of the Volta Regional Minister, three roads projects in the Volta Region were prioritized in the list of critical road projects for 2020. As it turned out on page 160 of the budget document, the Volta Region was inadvertently left out.”

These critical roads in the Volta Region are the Asikuma-Have (45km), the Have-Hohoe-Jasikan (83km) and the Ho-Dzodze-Denu (99km).

It is difficult to know for certain if this was indeed a mere oversight. But it cannot be denied that the recent clamouring against the government for the seeming neglect of road development must have indeed played a part in getting government to come out with this policy of tackling those roads it deems critical and in urgent need of development.

By Ebo Assiredu Owiredu-Aidoo

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