Mr Speaker, and it says, and I beg to quote:
“In addition, the planned refinancing of the 2017 Eurobond did not take place because of unfavourable market conditions”.
Mr Speaker, if you remember, this House authorised the Hon Minister for Finance to use US$250 million to refinance this. If this House gave him that authority and he decided that because of unfavourable market conditions, he would not do it; it is just good that he should inform this House. This is because if one goes to the bank to borrow money to do groundnut farming and decided to go and pay a gir lfr iend's debt, it is bad management. It is called misapplication of funds and in fact, one could be prosecuted for it.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister may have to tell us why and what he used that money for. That was the point that the Hon Member for Effutu made, that if we took US$1 billion to refinance— to use US$250 million to do some refinancing of the Eurobond, which was due to mature in 2017 and we did not do it, what did we use that money for? Did we use that money for capital expenditure, for payment of recurrent expenditure or what did we
use it for? It is important because this debt is a commercial loan and not a concessionary loan.
Mr Speaker, we were also told that US$250 million of that US$1 billion was to be put into the Infrastructure Fund. As we sit today, that Infrastructure Fund has not taken off. Where is that US$250 million? Have we used that money for something else or that money is still sitting in our bank or somewhere? We need to know before we approve this.
It is important because half of that money was not used for the purpose for which we acquired it: meanwhile, interest is building on it and we are being told today that we can go for another US$500 million. That is not right, and I do not think that it is good for us as a country to continue on this line.
Mr Speaker, when one looks at the components of the programme -- Liability Management is US$500 million -- local and external. It would be very important for the Hon Minister because at the Committee meeting, he said they would go and work at it and so, as we sit today, we do not know how much and I hope the Hon Minister is listening—We do not know how much of the US$500 million would be used, unlike the past, to retire external loans or debts and we do not know how much of the US$500 million would be used to retire internal debt. That is not good for us as a House.
It is only the terms and conditions that, we can excuse the Hon Minister and give him that leverage and say that because he has to go on a road show and the conditions may change, we can agree to the terms and conditions. But we must know what the money would be used for.
Mr Speaker, this House would not be doing the nation any good if we do not know what we are borrowing the money for. If we have just “General Budget Support and Liability Management”, it is
not good for us. If this Report gets out to anybody, the people of Ghana would not be happy with us. What is “General Budget Support”? Which are the specific projects, under which Ministries and departments— which roads, how much and where?
Mr Speaker, I understand when the terms and conditions are not tackled because we would not know. But as for the loan itself, US$1 billion which today is equivalent to, depending on whom you talk to, GH¢3.5 billion or GH¢4 billion. This is because if one goes to the Forex Bureau, it is likely to be GH¢3 billion; if one goes to the banks, they would say GH¢3.3 billion or GH¢3.4 billion and so, we are not too sure how much this US$1 billion would be translated into and the Hon Minister may tell us because we do not spend dollars here.
It is Ghana cedis, and so, I would have wished to mention this figure in cedis. But, whatever the case may be, if the Hon Minister is handed even the minimum of GH¢3.2 billion, he should be able to tell us what he would use it for in the budget. We discussed it before in the main budget but if there are changes to it, the Hon Minister should let us know. But if he would stick to what was in the budget, he should let us know.
The extra US$500 million, like I said before, how much of it would be used to retire the 2017 Eurobond and how much of it would be left? What did we use the money we were supposed to use to retired the debt last year?
Mr Speaker, these are but some of the issues that we have particularly and I will repeat, our debt stock is rising, so, we cannot borrow our way out of trouble. If we do not manage our country's resources prudently -- If you are a father and you do not manage the little money
you have prudently, you cannot borrow your way out of trouble. You would always borrow your way into trouble because as a country, the biggest and greatest embarrassment is to tell people that I have to borrow to go and pay my debts and the next time, I would have to borrow to go and pay my debt. When should we stop borrowing?
So, Mr Speaker, I would just say that if we have decided to go on a borrowing spree, we should be careful not to drag our little oil resources into it as it is being found on page 4. Mr Speaker, on page 4, the Hon Minister says for the 2015 Eurobond, they would use some of the oil resources to secure it by what we call “Sinking Fund” to back it. It is so unique.
I would say that we should leave those resources for future generations to enjoy, particularly Stabilisation Fund and Heritage Fund. We should leave them for future generations to come and enjoy.
If we are borrowing for the sake of borrowing, we should leave the oil resources for others to come in 2017 and use it prudently. This is because by 2017, when that side of the House is sitting here [Interruption] , they would want to demand that we do the right thing. So, I would urge that we thread with caution in borrowing.
We should thread with caution on the usage of our oil resources and that we should demand, for the last time, the impact on debt sustainability report of every loan that the Hon Minister now brings to Parliament.