Government is contesting economic figures provided by flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party Nana Akufo-Addo during his presentation of the “real state of the nation address.”
The Deputy Finance Minister Cassiel Ato Forson hinted the figures were inaccurate, massaged and could not have been real figures of the state of the nation.
Nana Akufo-Addo in an apparent reaction to the evidence-based state of the nation address by the president said far from the rosy picture painted by John Mahama the “country is at a high risk of debt distress.”
According to him, the Mahama administration borrowed $37 billion in seven years, five times more than what the Nkrumah and Kufuor governments borrowed within their respective tenures.
He said the Nkrumah government borrowed $2 billion with the Kufuor government borrowing $5 billion.
Nana Akufo-Addo went ahead to state that government had raised 200 billion cedis in loans and taxes in seven years in comparison with the NPP’s 20million cedis in eight years.
Describing the debt to GDP ratio which he said stood at 73 per cent Nana Akufo-Addo said the president and his government has not only failed in performance but also failed to present the true state of the nation in his address to Parliament.
But government has been quick with a rebuttal.
While agreeing that the NPP left a debt of 9.8bn cedis in 2008, the Deputy Minister of Finance Ato Forson said the cedi to dollar in 2008 was the same.
“They failed to recognize that at the time, the dollar to the cedi was one to one. So what he is trying to admit here is that in fact in today’s term, at the time they were leaving office in 2008 the debt stock stood at 36.57 billion cedis.
“He went further to say that as we speak the debt is 99 billion cedis. He conveniently decided not to take it in dollars for us to compare the dollars equivalent at the time they were leaving office,” he stated on Joy News.
Ato Forson said the NPP under Kufuor had a huge windfall in HIPC benefits, but Nana Akufo-Addo conveniently ignored that.
He also dismissed the 73 percent debt to GDP ratio figure presented by the NPP leader, saying the real figure is 70 per cent.
When his attention was drawn to the fact that 70 per cent was still high and could cripple the economy, the deputy minister retorted saying, the government has the ability to pay back the debts.
He would rather critics concentrate on what the debt is being used for.
He also challenged claims by the NPP flagbearer and his running mate that government had borrowed $37 billion in loans.
He said the NPP leaders should not “confuse commitment to disbursement.”