Mr Speaker, does this Budget Statement give the assurance that it would lead to growth and create jobs for this country? I fail to say so. What I see is desperation for resources, which has led to the cut of the statutory funds at 25 per cent. What I see is partisanship; but as we speak today, what this country needs is leadership and not partisanship.
Mr Speaker, back to the sector for which I intend to contribute to, which is in the Budget Statement -- the road sector. The NPP, then in opposition made us understand that this country, Ghana, has a lot of resources that they could mobilise to pursue infrastructural development. I believe the assurance that this country has resources was what moved, motivated and encouraged the people to give the power of the State to them.
Mr Speaker, however, what do we see? On page 93 of the Budget Statement the Hon Minister has given an indication of the number of roads that they intend to do this year.
Mr Speaker, I would give you the possible sources of funding. Never mind that these sources were found during the time of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). It goes to show that, the fact that the funds were made available from sources which were criticised, it does not mean they were not good sources, and I believe this is why the NPP continues with those sources of funding.
Mr Speaker, I would start from the bottom. We have been told that the Kumasi roads and drainage extension works would be done this year. It would be funded by a loan facility from the European Union (EU).
Mr Speaker, we have been told that the construction of the Pokuase Interchange would begin this year, and that construction would be funded by a facility from the African Development Bank.
Mr Speaker, we are told that the construction of the Obetsebi Lamptey Interchange would start this year. That facility would be funded through a combination of resources led by the lead arranger, the Societe Generale-Social Security Bank (SG- SSB).
Mr Speaker, indeed, we have been told that the construction of the bridge over the Volta River at Volivo, would start this year. Funding for the construction over that river would be sourced from the Japanese.
Mr Speaker, indeed, other projects would be funded through the Road Fund, and that brings me back to the main point of my debate, which is to say that, when we look at page 173, it says that the Road Fund that has been allocated for this year, is GH¢ 873,746,017.
Mr Speaker, the choice of words, “allocate,” means that the NPP Government would possibly bring an Act to this House for the amendment of the Road Fund Act, to allow funds that go into the Road Fund account to go through the Consolidated Fund, and to have the Hon Minister for Finance allocate the resources to the Road Fund. That is what it means.
Mr Speaker, it also means that the outsource on statutory funds would affect the Road Fund. The collection of levies from the sales of petrol every year, after the amendment of the Road Fund Act, gave an average of GH¢1.2 billion to the Road Fund. What is being stated here means that, resources -- those funds would no longer be available to the Road Fund.
Mr Speaker, what does it tell us? It tells us that the performance in 2017, or the anticipated performance in 2017, captured on page 92, which says that:
“In 2017, the Ministry would undertake 11,900km, 22,950km and 10,200km of routine maintenance activities on trunk, feeder and urban road networks…”
With the greatest respect, that would be challenged. This is because that is a heightened performance. Even with the GH¢1.2 billion that came to the Road Fund, the Road Fund never achieved these numbers.
Mr Speaker, we are also told in the Budget Statement that, the asphalt overlays which have taken place in the regional capitals, district capitals and selected municipalities, would continue. All those activities are funded by the Road Fund, and we have a situation where the resources to the Road Fund have been cut at GH¢873million.
Mr Speaker, on page 93, we are also told that the Bolgatanga-Bawku- Polmakom road would be done this year. Mr Speaker, the Bolgatanga-Bawku- Polmakom road is funded by the Road Fund. That clearly shows that there would be paucity of funds and this Budget will struggle to meet the ideas and promises and also targets set in this Budget.
That is why I believe seriously that in the desperation of Government to look for funds to fund some of these projects, some other facilities which were already in existence ought not be attacked and one such facility is the Road Fund.
Indeed, a lot of work went into the amendment of the Road Fund Act to be able to garner resources to undertake routine maintenance activities on our roads. It is trite knowledge that we invest in our infrastructure to maintain same, than to let same go waste so that we reconstruct same again.
Mr Speaker, in looking at the budget, again, I believe it is an oversight, but I would call on you to direct attention of the Committee of Roads and Highways to a particular entry of the Ministry of Roads and Highways. Mr Speaker, it is at page 170, entry number 28.
Mr Speaker, we are told that the Government of Ghana funding for the Ministry of Roads and Highways would be GH¢230 million and Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) would be GH¢187,255,173. Mr Speaker, the total of that is GH¢417,255,173. There will be no funding from other Government expenditure (OGE.)
But curiously, Mr Speaker, on the MDA total and OGE, an entry of GH¢458,540,168 has been made -- an addition of more than GH¢41 million. Mr Speaker, I believe this is an inadvertent entry; it cannot be deliberate. The Committee on Roads and Transport should take critical note and correct any inappropriate entry if they so see same.
Mr Speaker, this Budget, at best, can be described as a desperate one -- a desperate one to look for resources. At worst, it is a “deceptive budget”; a budget that sets high standards to cajole the Ghanaian people into thinking that there is something good for them. This Budget portends no good.
Indeed, the theme is “Sowing the Seeds for Growth and Jobs”. Today, as we speak, the Ghana cedi is the worst performing currency, not only in Africa, but the whole world.