From all indications, the 2021 Budget is a hit – as long as we muster courage and ride the storms that have afflicted all global economies.
At this point in our history, we certainly cannot afford to go back to mediocrity in the planning and execution of development projects, particularly when we have opportunity to change that now. And we cannot dither when all over the world the culture is how to beat the dire effects of COVID-19 into the future.
We believe that is the motive for designing the 2021 Budget, which is aimed at running fast enough to recover lost ground in order not to be left out in the race to stay on course.
That COVID-19 left us a legacy of debt and unfinished task is a fact that cannot be disputed. That we should sit down and do nothing about it and get stuck in the mud, however, should not be our lot as a serious nation.
That is why we agree with the Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta, when he urges “a battle cry” for shared responsibilities between the government and citizens in generating adequate revenue to help the economy continue to stay resilient and to facilitate completion of dormant and existing projects.
It makes sense, in our opinion, to point out that because safety measures that were ingeniously put in place to manage and defeat the COVID-19 pandemic had a cost to it, it becomes imperative that the government and citizens responsibly share the burden.
We must, indeed, admit that the credibility that came with that singular effort that saw Ghana being acknowledged and lauded culminated in development partnerships that we would need into the future, regardless of which government is in power.
As the Budget highlights, a major item alongside other bold and ingenious initiatives is ensuring that abandoned projects are completed within the next four years.
Completing them would mean, for instance, that no government in 2025 will be saddled with substantial debt as has been the culture since 2001.
But it also means that the ruling administration’s transformational projects shall effectively roll out because there would be enough revenue to do more, including sustaining initiatives like the Free SHS programme and the enhanced National Health Insurance Scheme.
Sheer weight of burden
When you have in the pipeline 8,700 projects, all of which have been targeted for completion, you don’t go to be bed hoping that they would fall in place by some magic, unless we strain every nerve and sinew in productive activity.
As we would admit, that can only be done when citizens buy into government’s proposition to accept the post-COVID-19 recovery measures.
All over the world, it is the obligation of responsible citizens to pay taxes. This culminates into the lighting up of their landscape with infrastructure, including roads and highways, markets and schools, hospitals and accommodation facilities, among other amenities, and the provision of safety net initiatives.
Interestingly, since the Akufo-Addo government took power, it has not saddled citizens with unnecessary tax obligations. Indeed, what had prevailed under the last NPP administration was government offering reliefs that would spur growth.
Additionally, that step was to encourage patriotic citizens to be part of the responsibility of sharing the burden of development with government at the appropriate time.
That time, in our opinion, is now, having become evident that the government can be trusted because it has proven that it has a superior ability in the management of our resources.
Widening revenue coverage
We believe it is in that vein that the government is busy with its digitisation programmes to enhance coverage in terms of revenue mobilisation.
Unless there are other options that are outstanding, we believe the only way out to beat the pandemic and its negative effects into the future is the course of action as highlighted in the 2021 Budget.
We at the Daily Statesman therefore urge all citizens to buy into government’s agenda and contribute towards its implementation in our collective interest.