A Senior Research Fellow with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Professor Charles Ackah has described the move by the government to slash fuel allocations to appointees, Metropolitan Municipal District Assemblies (MMDAs) and state-owned enterprises, as a step in the right direction.
He believes such measures by the government to cut down on expenditure will go a long way in reviving the ailing economy.
He said appointees should be made to pay for the things they use without government’s subsidy.
The Finance Minster presenting the 2023 budget statement said, “All MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs are directed to reduce fuel allocations to political appointees and heads of MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs by 50%. This directive applies to all methods of fuel allocation including coupons, electronic cards, chit system, and fuel depots. Accordingly, 50% of the previous year’s (2022) budget allocation for fuel shall be earmarked for official business pertaining to MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs”.
Reacting to this on The Point of View, Professor Ackah remarked, “I think it’s a step in the right direction, I’m not sure whether it’s enough. It’s about time we allow people to pay for the things they use. I will not even support government funding or subsidising any loans for cars for Members of Parliament to buy V8s. They need to buy their cars and can take loans and buy them if they want. I don’t expect government to even guarantee loans for them”.
He suggested to the government to cut down on the size of its appointees, as well as merge other agencies.
“The size of government, some ministries with about two or three deputies, ministers of state, special agencies that were created, all of those things, we could do something about it,” he suggested.
According to him, this is the right time for members on both sides of the political divide to have a bi-partisan discussion on how to save the ailing economy.
“This crisis is a good time for us to have a bi-partisan discussion, about some of these things going forward,” he stated on The Point of View.
He called on the government to seek opinions on policies adding that “one of the lessons we need to learn, both National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the NPP government must learn is that, it’s about time the politicians took the academics a bit more seriously.”
The Finance Minister in the 2023 budget said, “Mr. Speaker, as a first step toward expenditure rationalisation, Government has approved the following directives which take effect from January 2023:
- All MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs are directed to reduce fuel allocations to Political Appointees and heads of MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs by 50%. This directive applies to all methods of fuel allocation including coupons, electronic cards, chit system, and fuel depots. Accordingly, 50% of the previous years (2022) budget allocation for fuel shall be earmarked for official business pertaining to MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs;
- A ban on the use of V8s/V6s or its equivalent except for cross country travel. All government vehicles would be registered with GV green number plates from January 2023;
- Limited budgetary allocation for the purchase of vehicles. For the avoidance of doubt, purchase of new vehicles shall be restricted to locally assembled vehicles;
- Only essential official foreign travel across government including SOEs shall be allowed. No official foreign travel shall be allowed for board members. Accordingly, all government institutions should submit a travel plan for the year 2023 by mid-December of all expected travels to the Chief of Staff;
- As far as possible, meetings and workshops should be done within the official environment or government facilities;
- Government sponsored external training and Staff Development activities at the Office of the President, Ministries and SOEs must be put on hold for the 2023 financial year;
- Reduction of expenditure on appointments including salary freezes together with suspension of certain allowances like housing, utilities and clothing, etc.;
- A freeze on new tax waivers for foreign companies and review of tax exemptions for free zone, mining, oil and gas companies;
- A hiring freeze for civil and public servants
- No new government agencies shall be established in 2023;
- There shall be no hampers for 2022;
- There shall be no printing of diaries, notepads, calendars and other promotional merchandise by MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs for 2024;
- All non-critical project must be suspended for 2023 Financial year”.