Former Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, has said it is unfortunate that despite the economic constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has not found it necessary to cut down its expenditure.
Speaking in an interview to react to the contents of the 2020 Mid-Year Budget Review on Friday, July 24, Mr Terkper said one of the obvious steps Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration must take to rationalise its expenditure is to heed to the numerous calls to reduce the size of government.
The size of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government has since 2017 remained a controversial topic since he announced his over 110 ministerial appointments.
There have also been suggestions in the past that some of President Akufo-Addo’s policies- like the free Senior High School (SHS) programme- need tweaking because they are causing too much stress on the country’s coffers.
“Expenditure rationalization and the recommendations from the World Health Organization, from the IMF, from all the multinational institutions that offer advice is that re-prioritize expenditure and direct it towards health expenditure,” he said.
He said the coronavirus pandemic has constrained Ghana’s revenue flow in a way that a sustained commitment to cutting down expenditure has become critical.
Citing events in 2015, he noted that although the 2016 election was near, the government took a bold step to reduce major campaign promises, like the construction of E-Schools event though the then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) was campaigning on the Free SHS programme.
Mr Terkper, who was the Finance Minister under the John Mahama administration at the time, has challenged the current government to also take a similar bold step to cut needless spending.
He explained that Ghana’s economic situation in 2015 — which was characterised by power challenges (dumsor) and a global financial crisis — is similar to the current pandemic era, but admits that the severity of the current crisis is more than in 2015.