Madam Speaker, the Budget Statement and the Economic Policy of the Government for the 2010 financial year was read to this august House some two weeks ago.
Madam Speaker, it has been extensively reviewed in the print and also the electronic media. Madam Speaker, civil society organisations have commented extensively on this particular Budget, academia, both lecturers and students have commented on this Budget. Madam Speaker, we have had experts -- economic experts have briefed various parliamentary groups on this particular Budget.
Madam Speaker, for about a week now, we have listened to Hon Members from both sides of the House also debating this particular Budget Statement. Indeed, Madam Speaker, it is fair to conclude that most of the comments have not been very charitable and certainly, this Budget cannot be considered to be one of the most famous Budgets that have been presented to this House since 1993.
As has already been commented, this is one long tale of unachieved targets and the Budget also, unfortunately, has no decisive corrective measures and there are no bold growth programmes. But in my opinion, Madam Speaker, it is important that all of us, from both sides of the House, learn from this Budget. The year 2009 had its fair share of opportunities for this country.
If we have not been able to take advantage of these opportunities, Madam Speaker, I think it is important that we all reflect seriously and agree on the way forward.
Madam Speaker, I want to draw attention to some six important lessons that we should learn as a nation from this rather unimpressive Budget. Madam Speaker, I think the first lesson is that we must resolve, as a nation, to adopt a non- partisan approach to the management of our economy. I say this, Madam Speaker, because the bold economic decisions that we need to take will continue to be politically unpalatable for any one party to initiate and it will help if we adopt a bi-partisan approach in finding solutions to some of these very difficult economic decisions. Madam Speaker, do not let us forget that we live in the middle of a serious global economic crisis. We need to think about it.
Again, Madam Speaker, I do not want to be controversial, but I think it is clear that the internal bickering within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) does not give the Government the space or the focus that it needs to address the very difficult economic challenges that confront this country. And I think it is important that a solution is found to that.
Madam Speaker, equally important, is this over-concentration of fault-finding and mudslinging among the political class because it does not engender that atmosphere that we need for us to build some consensus and drive this economy. I think we need to also take that one very, very seriously.
Again, we need a period where globally there is a serious economic crisis, Ghana not be excluded.
Madam Speaker, the third observation
that I need to make, is that I do not think there is enough consultation when we are preparing our Budgets. I am not very sure whether there is sufficient consultation, for instance, between the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the National Development Planning Commission
An annual Budgets must respond to a medium term budget. The medium-term plan is kept by the NDPC and when you ask them quietly to what extent have they been involved in the preparation of this Budget, diplomatically, they tell you, no, except that they do not want to say, no directly to you.
Another thing that has always bothered me, Madam Speaker, is that we must make it possible for Parliamentarians to really influence what is in the Budget. This will require, Madam Speaker, that we are given the opportunity to discuss the Budget even before the document is presented to the House. Once a budget document is presented to the House, it becomes a political document and it is very, very difficult for Members, especially from the Government Party, to voice their decent even if they have very strong views.
I think we should sit down and consider whether it will not be possible to get some involvement of Parliamentarians in the budget process before the documents is finalised.
Madam Speaker, we need, as I have already indicated, to put our heads together to solve some of the very difficult challenges that we face. An example is what my very good Friend, Hon Moses Asaga talked about. There is this bold intention to increase power production to about 5,000 megawatts. Commendable but we will need the independent power producers to come and help us to achieve that.
The Hon Member will agree that the independent power producers will not come unless we would have been able to solve the pricing problem. And yet electricity pricing is not one thing that any Government, any one party would want to tackle head-on. We need to sit down and have a bipartisan approach to this.
Madam Speaker, Hon Asaga talked about the new oil discovery and the attempts that we are making to ensure that it becomes more of a blessing than a curse. But Madam Speaker, as we speak, there is an oil and gas policy which is being developed. We developed one, the Government wanted to revise it, that is fine. Except that, as at now, we have not been made to know what exactly is included in that policy. It will come to this House, it would be a political document and everybody will vote for it, that is, from the Government side, whether it is good or not.
We need to have it out in time so that civil society can discuss it. So that we can have some consensus among ourselves even before the document comes here. Madam Speaker, let us put our heads together to solve once and for all, the very difficult economic problems that we have.
Madam Speaker, I want to comment on some three issues also concerning this particular Budget. The first one, Madam Speaker, and if I may ask: why is the Government giving the impression that debts and fiscal deficits are abominable acts which should not be engaged in by any Government? Madam Speaker, I do not understand because clearly, there is nothing wrong with debts and there can be nothing wrong with fiscal deficits.
Madam Speaker, let me give you an example. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government is accused of contracting debts -- loans. The NDC Government is