Former President John Dramani Mahama has told President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to take responsibility for the economic challenges that the country is going through.
In the view of Mr Mahama, the first step to tackling the problem is for the President to first accept responsibilities and then bring people on board to solve the problem.
He said this while embarking on a campaign tour in Wenchi to be elected flagbearer of the National Democratic Congres (NDC) in the 2024 general elections.
“If you are a person who leads, the first principle of leadership is responsibility, you must take responsibility for every situation and work to solve it. If you don’t take responsibility and you are the kind of leader who is always looking for somebody to blame you will never be able to solve problems.
“When this government took over from our government, the total national debt was GHS120 billion. Today, that debt is almost 600 billion, in five and a half short years and the president had the temerity to say that there has been no recklessness in borrowing. What else is recklessness than what he and his Finance Minister have done? It is not that their attention was not drawn, from 2018 every budget that they brought, the Minority in Parliament said you were overborrowing, even the World Bank told them that you are risking into debt distress because of too much debt and they refused to listen,” he said.
His comments come after Mr Akufo-Addo said in his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on Wednesday, March 8 that his government has not been reckless in borrowing.
Although he said questions that have been asked regarding the debt situation of the country were legitimate, there were projects to show for the borrowings that had been done over the period.
He said “Beyond the use of COVID funds, there are legitimate questions being asked about how the country’s debt situation got where it is. Mr Speaker, let me state emphatically that we have not been reckless in borrowing and in spending. It is worth noting that the debts we are servicing were not only contracted during the period of this administration.
“Mr Speaker, we have spent money on things that are urgent, to build roads and bridges and schools, to train our young people and equip them to face a competitive world. Considering the amount of work that still needs to be done on the state of our roads, the bridges that have to be built, considering the number of classrooms that need to be built, the furniture and equipment needs at all stages of education, considering the number of children who should be in school and are not, considering the number of towns and villages that still do not have access to potable water, I daresay no one can suggest we have over-borrowed or spent recklessly.
He mentioned among other things that frontline health workers were given 50 percent tax relief for the period. Also, he said, electricity and water tariffs were subsidized for Ghanaians during the period.
This comes in the wake of a recent audit report on Covid spending issued by the Auditor General.
The Auditor-General report stated that “During our review, we noted that senior management staff and other supporting staff of the Ministry of Information paid themselves a total amount of GH¢151,500.00 as COVID-19 risk allowance for coming to work during the lockdown.”
It further indicated that the Ministry of Health (MoH) entered a contract signed on 15 December 2021 for the supply of 26 Toyota Hiace Deluxe Ambulances valued at US$4,049,460.12 out of which US$607,419.02 was paid to vide PV No. IPF 22-007 of 2 September 2022 is to be delivered by 15 January 2022.
However, the report said, the ambulances remained undelivered as of 28 November 2022.
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