Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu constituency in the Volta Region, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa says the Akufo-Addo government should have considered a cash grant in the 2021 budget to private school teachers and workers in the hospitality sector who have been laid off without any pay for about a year now.
According to him, the government in all honesty should have cut down its expenditure in terms of buying new cars, travelling and salaries as well as cut down the number of special assistance, aides and presidential staffers in the 2021 budget.
“I thought that we could have considered a cash grant for this category of workers. So, to be honest with you, I was expecting that this budget will cut down on expenditure in terms of the government expenditure on itself, in terms of buying of cars, travelling, salaries and the number of all these special assistance, special aide and the presidential staffers,” he opined.
Speaking on Okay FM’s ‘Ade Akye Abia’ Morning Show, the former Deputy Education Minister reiterated that he expected some cuts in the expenditure of the executive government in order to save money to offer relief for those who are in dire need of help as a result of this pandemic.
Touching on the Covid-19 intervention programme that the government introduced during the early stage of the pandemic, the NDC MP said that it was not enough, especially the sharing of the food items as it did not cover the whole country except few people.
With the Covid-19 expenditure, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is suggesting a special forensic audit into the claim of the government spending Ghc54 million as what he has read about the expenditure does not add up.
“When it comes to contingency, the government spent over Ghc39m more than what Parliament approved in terms of the Covid-19 expenditure. The item which is more important, which is frontline healthcare workers’ 50% allowance, the government is rather in arrears as it has not released over Ghc40 million; meanwhile, the government has overspent in terms of its contingency for Covid-19,” he indicated.
“Other relief items like free water, free electricity, it is for the vulnerable, the lifeline consumers and the people in this category are not even up to 20% of the entire population and so it should tell you that there is the need for a more expanded relief that will help,” he added.
Without discounting that the government did something earlier in terms of free water, free electricity and NBSSI funds, Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa insisted that the intervention of the government could not reach many people.
“A lot of people have been left out in the government relief programme so far and that is why it will be necessary to consider other segments of the society. I am not surprised that if you look at the feedback from TUC, Poultry Farmers Association, Hospitality Industry, and Private School Teachers, you can tell that they are not happy, they don’t see hope and relief in this 2021 budget,” he posited.