Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has suggested that the government has not abandoned its plans of embarking on a ‘Year of Roads’ agenda this year, despite the challenges that have befallen it.
At the beginning of the year, the Akufo-Addo led government assured of unprecedented infrastructural developments, particularly, in the roads sector considering that many areas in the country lament over the state of their roads.
This rather good intention appears to have been thwarted by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted economic, social and political activities globally.
Speaking on Citi TV’s ‘Point of View’, Wednesday, April 2, 2020, Mr. Ofori-Atta explained that there are lots of factors to consider in governing the country at this stage including the use of resources initially intended to go into the construction of roads for other purposes like provision of social amenities to cushion Ghanaians against the impact of the pandemic.
Even though he did not categorically state that the agenda was off the government’s to-do things this year, he admitted that should the pandemic worsen, it may derail such plans.
“….the question then is, should I use that GHC1 to bring that tanker to you or should I use that to fill that pothole and that is about choices. I think there are lots of things in play depending on the severity that we are going to experience but one has to keep one’s eye on the ball to make sure we do not derail everything that we are doing.”
He added, “We have been doing so well that this year we thought that all we had to manage was election year expenditure and then coronavirus comes by and then we have empires on their knees.”
He observed that despite the trying times the country finds itself, some insist on getting things done as was initially planned.
This, he indicated, was worrying as it gave off the impression that they were detached from the reality on the grounds.
“You can see from the President’s speech the concern. They are not mutually exclusive but it is a time for sacrifice and a time for understanding. Sometimes when I hear the radio chit-chat and people calling in, you sometimes wonder whether they have divorced themselves from reality and this could lead to some severe debt. Therefore, there are things that are going to be uncomfortable. We are already running a country that has inefficiencies so some of those are going to be accentuated. but outs is to find ways to beat that” Ken Ofori-Atta explained.
Ghana has recorded about 204 COVID-19 cases with more than 30 people recovering from the infection.
5 persons have died so far.
Globally, over 130, 000 infections have been recorded and close to 20, 000 deaths reported.
The country has been hit severely by the outbreak of the virus forcing the Central Bank to revise its GDP growth downwards to about 2%. Businesses have also been forced to halt operations with the implementation of a 2-week lockdown in the Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi and Kasoa area.
To mitigate the economic impact on households and businesses, Finance Minister requested Parliament to amend the Petroleum Revenue Management Act to allow the government to dip its hands into the Heritage Funds, meant for future generations, to finance its relief programme.
The Minority has opposed the move insisting that it will not serve the best interest of the nation.