Fifi Kwetey explains the Ghanaian 'cake-eating' culture
Minister of state in charge of Allied and Financial Institutions Fifi Kwetey says Ghanaians cannot expect investments in critical sectors of the economy, without its attendant needs for more taxes and more borrowing. Simply put, Ghanaians cannot eat their cake and have it.
He was speaking on Newsfile Saturday, July 13, 2013 in a discussion in which the importance of the 2012 budget deficit was brought into sharp focus.
The deficit according to the Bank of Ghana was estimated at 8.7billion Ghana cedis and amounted to 12.1% of GDP using the re-based GDP numbers. It is said to be the highest recorded budget deficit in Ghana’s history.
But Fifi Kwetey explained that the high deficit recorded in 2012 was because the NDC government “needed to do what we needed to do politically”.
He suggested that among the things that needed to be done was not to raise petroleum prices. He said the political reality was that no government has raised petroleum prices in an election year.
“When in an election year did you hear any government increase petroleum prices?” he challenged.
He argued that government also needed to pay huge wages under the Single Spine Salary regime.
He said when it comes to this reality, political parties whether NPP or NDC cannot continue to "play to the gallery" because both parties have had the opportunity to govern this country.
He chided both the NPP and the NDC for politicizing economic issues, a practice he termed “the politics of affordability”. He counsels that this political culture must give way to a new kind of politics.
After dealing with the two major political parties, he had words of the Ghanaian public.
He charged that Ghanaians cannot expect government to provide good roads and provide important social amenities without raising taxes or borrowing to fund these initiatives.
Ghanaians need to dump this mindset that “everything must be cheap”, the minister of a social democratic NDC explained. He said Ghanaians should not complain when taxes are increased to fund important expenditure.
“This situation, where it is created that everything must be cheap, government cannot tax meanwhile the people expect more expenditure, they expect roads, they expect better wages, we must come to that reality across the political reality that listen; you cannot eat your cake and have it”, the minister sermonized.
“Amen”, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, a former minister of finance under the NPP administration exclaimed with glee.