Following threats by the Minority on the Finance Committee of Parliament not to support any more loans from government, Madam Ursla Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister for Communications and Digitalization has called on the Minority to rescind their decision.
According to her, the World Bank board has already approved the loans, “they are willing and eager to give these monies to us, but we cannot contract any loan without parliamentary approval”.
The Minister who addressing the media after a meeting with the Finance Committee of Parliament to make case for the approval of three loan facilities namely;
• USD$200.0 Million IDA Credit to Finance the Ghana Digital Acceleration Project;
• USD$150.0 Million IDA Credit for Primary Health Care Investment Programme; and
USD$150.0 Million IDA Credit to finance the Public Finance Management for Service Delivery Programme; stated that the loan for the Ghana Digital Acceleration Project for example would provide funding for entrepreneurial skills development and training, provide start-up capital to stir up the innovation ecosystem and tech-ecosystem of our country.
Additionally, “it is also providing funding for us to extend connectivity to some hard-to-reach areas in our country. And without connectivity there is very little we can do to stimulate the rural economy”, she stated.
She said, if we didn’t learn any lesson at all from the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that we cannot gross over is the fact that “without digital technology, it is impossible for any country to grow its economy to live to communicate in the rapidly unfolding environment in which we live”.
The loan is also looking at the public sector its connectivity and digital strengthening to enable it deliver better services to the people and foster a more secure environment for us all in terms of cyber security.
She said before the committee, she admitted the country is facing challenges but digital technology provides us with the ladder to climb out of the difficulties we are faced with.
It is in view of these that she urged the Minority to reconsider their position on these loans and support their approval; stating that “if we don’t take the right decision today, our country would be in probably even more difficult circumstance tomorrow, and right decision taken at the wrong time is a wrong decision; so timing is everything”.
According to her, though the Minority insists they would not support any loan that is presented to the Finance Committee, she was hopeful they would change their stand upon further engagements, because they (Minority) admitted that the applications before them make sense, they are needed, so it is just appropriate they support the approval, she stressed.
Isn’t it prudent to stop borrowing at this time?
When questioned if it is not prudent to stop borrowing for now, she responded saying it depends on what you are borrowing for. “If you are borrowing to create the environment which will enable you to stimulate economies across the country to relief the burden of the country, then yes; because you can see what benefit that facility will give to you within the stated time lime”.
“And we’ve seen how digital technology was absolutely critical for our recovery from the pandemic, so if we say we are in a debt distress situation so we’re not going to seek funding that we need; we’re not raising enough funds locally to finance our development, we all know that.
Are we going to continue borrowing over the long term to finance our development? Yes, adding that the critical question that we have to answer is what are we taking those facilities for; how and where are they going to be used; what benefits are we going to derive from them; do they have the capacity of putting in systems that will enable us recover and rebuild, and derive revenue from the sources from the use for which those facilities are expended? The answer is yes”, she stated.
She asserts that when the expected benefits start accruing, we will see that in the long run, we invested in the growth poles of our economy and are reaping the benefits. “These can create jobs for the young people who can sit at home and engage in secure and lucrative digital jobs across the country”.
It also helps improve our foreign exchange situation, gives the sustainable livelihoods, solves the unemployment situation and reduces the insecurity that the devil finds jobs for ideal hands.
The Minister assured that the projects are carefully thought through as very important to the development of the country, and it would be a shame if we let this opportunity pass us by.