In November 2015, Finance Minister Seth Terkpeh, told Parliament during the 2016 Budget Presentation, that government had put in place sufficient measures against overspending this election year.
Prior to this, the International Monetary Fund, IMF, Ghana’s civil society groups, and the business sector, had expressed worry that any budgetary overrun would result in deficits, and subsequently, further taxation.
President Mahama had, thereafter, repeatedly promised to resist any temptation to overspend this election year.
But following a string of spending decisions being taken by government with barely five month to the polls, one wonders whether the President is keeping his word.
Gov’t restores ‘scrapped’ nursing trainee allowances In a statement signed by Health Minister Alex Segbefia on Thursday July 21, government said it had restored scrapped allowances to student nurses following recommendations by a technical committee on the matter.
Consequently, each of the 34,500 nursing trainees will receive a monthly allowance of Ghc150 pending their migration onto the student loan scheme. That means a monthly drain of Ghc5, 175,000 on the national treasury. What is even unclear is when this migration will be done.
So why did government change its policy stance on the matter after so defending it loudly and repeatedly? And more importantly, why now? Gov’t pays arrears to school feeding caterers Public Relations Officer of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Siiba Alfa, also told the Ghanaian Times Newspaper in an interview at the launch of the National School Feeding Policy, that government had released a sum of Ghc400 million to clear arrears owed caterers of the school feeding programme, for the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 academic years. He also disclosed that about Ghc89 million was being processed to pay the caterers for the third term of the 2016 academic year.
This is probably the first! Good as this piece of news may be for the caterers, one question remains; had this money been available all this while and the caterers were not paid, or government just stumbled upon some windfall and decided to clear the arrears with it? Again, why now?
We have also been told that government has decided as a matter of policy to allow a 6-month extension for national service personnel who would want to voluntarily, continue with their service in specific public sector areas.
Service personnel to enjoy extension Presently, a national service personnel receives a monthly allowance of about three hundred and forty Ghana cedis.
Where is the money to pay these allowances coming from? Also, Ghanaians have been told of a 1.7 million Ghana cedi national health insurance package for school kids.
Question is; are most of these kids not already covered by their parents’ insurance? Why now? It is important to situate these interventions within the context of a state which has struggled to fulfill its statutory payments to critical agencies. And why would any government want to introduce such interventions, four months to a national election?
Does that mean teacher trainee allowances which have also been scrapped, will be restored?
Most importantly, what would be the post-election effect of all these interventions on the taxpayer?
And, will they be sustained after the December polls? These are critical questions for each taxpayer