The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Presidential Candidate, John Dramani Mahama has accused the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, of engaging in what he calls economic subterfuge.
According to the former President, Mr. Ofori Atta made the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) borrow money from commercial banks in 2019 in order to create the impression that revenue targets set for that year had been met.
Mr. Mahama said this move had created some economic challenges.
Speaking in an interview on Accra-based Pan African TV, Mr. Mahama wondered why the Board Chair of GRA, Prof. Stephen Addei sanctioned this move.
“He has been engaged in subterfuge and sometimes very criminal subterfuge. In 2019 they did not meet the domestic revenue targets. You know what Ofori Atta did. He made GRA go and borrow money from commercial banks and presented it and said we met the revenue targets so when Coronavirus struck, the commercial banks had been deducting the loan that they gave to show good figures for 2019.
“That is why the economy is worse than it is because any money that comes in, the commercial banks are taking their money back. Some of these things are criminal and I am surprised Prof. Adei as Chairman of the GRA could connive to do something like this.”
The government says the impact of the pandemic on revenues and expenditures resulted in a fiscal deficit of 9 percent of GDP as of September.
The World Bank is projecting a much lower fiscal deficit of 7.2 percent for Ghana.
Halfway through 2020, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta said the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in a revenue shortfall of GHS13.6 billion and unanticipated expenditures of approximately GHS11.7 billion.
The fiscal deficit situation is expected to improve to 8.3 percent in 2021 and this is a reflection of improved revenues from the anticipated pick-up of economic activities and a more rationalised public expenditure programme, according to Mr. Ofori-Atta.
He expects the country to return to the fiscal responsibility threshold of 5.0 percent of GDP and a positive primary balance earlier than the 2024 fiscal year as was previously announced.
Before the pandemic, the government’s fiscal deficit estimate for 2020 was 4.7 percent.
The government also exceeded respective targets for both revenue and expenditure in the first nine months of the year, resulting in the new fiscal deficit figures.
Total revenues and grants for the period which totalled GHS36.7billion exceeded the target of GHS35.7 billion by GHS972.7 million.