NKONTA

Nkonta

Source: Ghana | Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta
Date: 3rd-august-2017 Time:  1:20:27 pm

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As I write this column, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, is hours away from presenting to Parliament on Monday, July 31, his Review Budget for the Financial Year ending December 31, 2017.  We are six months into the Akufo-Addo presidency and it is time to render accounts. In Akuapem Twi, one of our official languages, accounts translate nicely, nkonta.

The last time this minister rocked up to the House, he delivered the Asempa Budget liberally interspersed with biblical references and hard mannon numbers. Cue roars of delight from the expected quarters, critical admiration from a few noticeable 'neutrals' and the required howls of rehearsed disapproval from the usual suspects. The numbers do not, they should not, lie. A good Presbyterian boy should not either.

The euphoria of a spectacular and definitive electoral win is over, 110 ministers later (seriously?), which, if any of the electoral promises for change has been initiated and which, if any, shows signs of delivery within budget to measurable effect? 

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The fundamentals are obvious - tackling the economy and corruption.  Without which, the essentials of creating jobs and opportunities; improving our education and health services, and securing law and order including #STOPGALAMSEY, will remain a tatty 60- year -old post- dated cheque that we still can't cash in any bank;  in any currency.

Interesting, that it is the international media that suggests the Minister will chart a new course in Parliament by proposing to table a law that will essentially make it illegal henceforth that any budget deficit can exceed five per cent of our GDP, our purchasing power. If true, the short and dark of this minister and his message is that this government is staking a bold claim to deliver with no postdated 'surprises.'  Ground-breaking stuff.   

The majority will cheer at everything and guaranteed our default protestors in the Minority will not like anything the minister has to say. If the minister tries to tie his own hands with the proposed budget deficit restriction law, the damning implications for the Minority of this new red line are great. It can be done and you did not deliver.

In his last request in 2016 to Parliament for a supplementary budget, then Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, asked for an additional ¢1.8 billion to fund unexpected shortfalls in revenue generation. The Auditor General's report into how we spent that ¢1.8 billion extra is pending in Parliament. Parliament rises on Wednesday, August 2, 2017, so there is precious little chance that we will address the ‘nkonta’ of what we actually did in an election year with the original as well as the additional injection of funds borrowed at what cost from whom for how long.

The House will come back from recess and this time, my public challenge to this government, this Public Accounts Committee, in this Parliament, is for a line by line edit of the 2016 report. Where there is evidence strong enough to proceed, the Auditor General must issue the Disallow and Surcharge certificates and proceed with calm despatch to court.  The numbers must add up.

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Ghanaians are social butterflies, to the point of ludicrousness. You know you have arrived when you receive a printed hand delivered invitation 'mournfully' requesting your esteemed presence at a funeral. If you were actually important, you would know that ‘asomesi’ has died, you would quietly and directly contact the family and turn up if possible at the funeral. Save trees and the environment. Stop printing funeral invitations. Certainly, don't send me one of those, or an invitation backed by a warrant, delivered at dawn or at any time of the day.  Thank you. 

The Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service has been issuing invitations of its own. Former members of government involved in the controversial $510 million transactions known as AMERI {for the supply of power plants to address our infamous dumsor} have had unwanted visitations. Worse than a flood of in -laws.

The Police were apparently looking for documents, in hard or soft copy, that supports an ongoing investigation into whether Ghana was shortchanged and over -charged in the AMERI transaction. Three of the people in (soon to be under) question are MPs and the Minority, God bless them, have protested to the Speaker. Article 117 of the Constitution and Parliament's Order 22 have been cited - no interference including arrests and presumably summonses - that can interfere with the hard work of a legislator.

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Length matters, so does word count.  The US are our dear friends.  And I can’t keep up with Mr Trump.

One White House Press Secretary resigned; One new Communications Director with very fruity language appointed; One Chief of Staff resigned/fired; One new replacement appointed; One repeal (key campaign promise) even of a skinny Obamacare health care failed; One new initiative to ban Transgender Americans from serving in the  armed forces thrown into the mix; One rocket, this time it seems with real interconnectional reach, fired up by North Korea; One new move by Russia to expel 755 US diplomats after a defiant Senate votes for new sanctions; One golf game with the Chinese premier didn't apparently do the trick in restraining the Great Leader's grandson.  Fortunately, One President Nicholas Madura of Venezuela may have given POTUS foreign affairs space to talk and walk real tough. 

This democracy thing is tiring, six months is a long time in office. Matters stack up, One by One. The numbers must add up. ‘Nkonta’. 

 

 

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