A deputy Finance Minister, Mr Fifi Kwetey has confirmed the government and people of Ghana are still reaping benefits from acceding to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
He said the nation will continue to enjoy the benefits of HIPC for some time to come.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Minority Caucus on MultiTV last week accused the government of changing the name of the HIPC programme through which the government is still raking in hundreds of millions of dollars to Social Intervention Programmes (SIP).
A former Deputy Fiance Minister under the Kufuor government, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said the government did not want to give the NPP credit and accept that the NDC’s strident opposition to Ghana going HIPC was ill-advised.
The NDC government, according to the NPP, last year received GH¢298 million and has so far this year received GH¢313 million as HIPC benefits.
While not confirming the figures, Fifi Kwetey admitted that the government was making some money from the HIPC initiative.
“As part of the HIPC initiative, the nation benefited from what you call a debt relief which in total was about $4 billion. Before the HIPC programme, the debt was at about $6 billion and as a result of the HIPC, about $4 billion was removed. Now that amount of money which was removed was not literally dropped into our coffers in total. The agreement was that it will be dropped into the national budget on a yearly basis and it will go into social alleviation effort,” he told Nii Akrofi Smart Abbey, host of Friday’s Joint Caucus.
“It is a fact,” he maintained, that “that debt relief will continue affecting the nation’s budget on a yearly basis.”
A youth activist of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Mr Abu Ramadan, who was guest on the show accused the Deputy Finance Minister of avoiding answering the question as to whether government was benefiting from HIPC directly.
That he said was because Mr Kwetey didn’t want “to concede that the HIPC programme was and has been beneficial to the people of this country considering the posture they (NDC) took when Kufuor decided to go HIPC.”
He said it was ironic that the NDC which created the conditions necessitating Ghana acceding to HIPC tended to oppose the then government’s moves to get the country out of its woes.
But Mr Fifi Kwetey insisted the HIPC benefits “is the nation’s money. I mean. Don’t forget it’s the nation’s money; it’s not money that belongs to any particular group or government. So as long as it is the nation’s money that was written off, the nation will continue to access it.”
Mr. Ramadan however remained unimpressed and accused the governing NDC of continuing in their propaganda which he said brought the party to power. “The NDC doesn’t seem to realize that they have moved out of opposition and they are in government because consistently they keep repeating the propaganda they were embarking on when they were in opposition.”
In his view the government and the NDC were using the platform – Majority Caucus – offered them graciously by MultiTV to do propaganda which for him doesn’t help the political discourse. He wished the PNC had a similar opportunity, saying the party would use the platform to discuss programmes and useful ideas.
The PNC youth activist, who is also a leading member of the pro opposition pressure group Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), maintained that the governing NDC must mend its ways and desist from the propaganda that it is known for.