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Parliament begins debate on 2024 SONA

Parliament passes landmark Emissions Levy Bill before rising for Christmas

Parliament on Thursday, February 29, 2023 began debating the President’s 2024 State of the Nation Address (SONA) where members of the House; the Majority and Minority, are taking turns to express their agreement or disagreement with the message.

In line with Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution, the SONA was presented to the House by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday, February 27.

The weeklong debate was opened by Mrs Abena Osei-Asare, a Deputy Finance Minister and New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Atiwa East, and seconded by Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for North Tongu.

Mrs Osei-Asare expressed gratitude to the President for his message on the State of the Nation.

“Mr Speaker, as I listened to the President, I felt a great sense of pride. Mr Speaker, his address showed that in a world fraught with challenges, Ghana continues to show resilience and advance in hope.”

Touching on the economy, Mrs Osei-Asare said the Government was restoring fiscal and debt sustainability.

That, she said, the Government did by going to Parliament to enable them to use both administrative and new measures to raise more revenue for the State and cut down on borrowing to address the economic issues.

Mrs Osei-Asare said Parliament assisted the Government to cut down on its expenditure and help them to fit within the Appropriated Budget that they were given.

Part of the administrative measures had to do with the digitisation being championed by the Vice President, which bore some fruits for the nation.

The digitisation and the new tax revenue measures, in 2023, had enabled the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to meet its revenue generation target and even gone above it.

“Mr Speaker, under the debt sustainability, we had to go through a painful but necessary process to help bring our debt level onto a sustainable path,” she said.

“This we did by undertaking a comprehensive debt structuring programme of both our domestic and external debts.”

She said the Ministry completed the domestic debts exchange in February, which saw about 95 per cent participation rates; declaring that “so far, so good, Mr Speaker”.

Mrs Osei-Asare said the Government had managed to pay all its coupons after some hitches at the beginning of the programme.

“In August 2023, we paid the first tranche of the coupons, which was GH¢2.36 billion; another coupon was paid in September of GH¢2.00 billion.”

“Mr Speaker, just last week, the 20th of February, we saw a huge chunk of our coupons being paid up to GH¢5.80 billion.”

“This is the largest in the history of our nation. And this is telling us that, yes, we are bringing back the confidence in the secondary matters.”

She encouraged Ghanaians to participate in the long end of the matters and not the short ends because the Government had brought back confidence in the secondary matter.

Certain global factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war had had negative impacts on Ghana’s economy, she said.

With regards to the health sector, Mrs Osei-Asare underscored the Government’s commitment to completing the La General Hospital construction project.

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the NDC MP of North Tongu, expressed unhappiness about the President not mentioning the Akosombo and Kpong dams spillage, which affected many communities such as Mepe and Battor in the Volta Region.

He criticised the President for being silent on the issue of fighting illegal mining (galamsey) in his address, which used to be one his (the President’s) flagship projects.

Source: GNA

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