Economist at the University of Ghana, Prof Godfred Bokpin, has described as tricky, moves by government to use part of the Heritage Fund to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
This comes on the back of a call by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta on Parliament to amend the Petroleum Revenue Management Act(APRM), ( Act 815 ), to allow government to access the Fund to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
His call is supported by some members on the side of the Majority in light of the health crisis presented by the virus.
Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah said “it would be absurd for Ghanaians to die while we hold GHȼ591m in the Heritage Fund.
“I do not want to be a Member of Parliament at a time when the house decided not to touch the Heritage Fund and Ghanaians died. This is the time to dip our hands into the fund.”
But the Minority will have none of that.
Former Deputy Power Minister, John Jinapor, believes that cutting down on the number of Ministers and appointees under the Akufo-Addo-led administration is the way to go if government is indeed committed to mobilising resources to finance the alleviation measures.
“You cannot have a Ministry that has four ministers. You cannot have a system with all those bloated Presidential Staffers feeding on the purse of government… I support any decision to cap the stabilisation fund… [but] any attempt to eat into the Heritage Fund, we shall resist it vehemently,” he said.
But speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story Monday, Prof Godfred Bokpin described the proposal by the Majority as a tricky one as arguments from both sides carried some level of merits.
He, however, wants the government to explore other alternatives to secure the needed resources and let the Heritage Fund be the last resort towards financing the battle against COVID-19.
“I kind of agree with the Finance Minister but that it should be the last resort. Let’s look at other options. I am very happy to some extent that government appointees are pledging about 50% of their salaries and all of that,” he said.
According to the expert, this situation creates an avenue to reassess the government structure and reconsider the size of not just the executive but the legislature as well, per the resources expended in that regard.
“When we talk about the size (number of Ministers and government appointees) and the expenditure overall, I believe that let us extend it. Do we need 275 MPs? Maybe now that it is facing Parliament, let’s take advantage. Let’s Broaden the discussion.”
He emphasised that the time was ripe to execute institutional reforms that are ‘anchored within the law’ to help lessen the impact of the pandemic.
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