Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has appeared before parliament delivering the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy terming it; “A Stronger Economy for Jobs and Prosperity.”
The minister in white apparel thanked citizens of the country for their patience, perseverance, sacrifices, activism and partnership extended to the government acknowledging some tough decisions have been taken which were unpopular.
He however asserted the government led by President Akufo-Addo has managed to ease the impact of the hardships that Ghanaians endured prior to December 7, 2016 adding the country will exit the IMF programme by the end of the year.
He then jabbed the previous government led by John Mahama for not exercising macro-economic competence and discipline leading to the IMF intervention in 2014.
He charged that the following listings made life difficult for the citizens and that there was need to be reminded where the country was before the Akufo-Addo mandate after the December 2016 election.
- Declining economic growth that fell from 14 percent 2011 to 3.7 percent in 2016;
- Declining growth in agriculture and negative growth in industry;
- Rising unemployment that resulted in the formation of the Unemployed Graduates Association;
- High Fiscal Deficits reaching 9.3 percent of GDP in 2016;
- Fast rising Public Debts which pushed the debt-to-GDP ratio to 73.1 percent at the end of 2016;
- Fast-falling Cedi, affecting even the meagre profits that street hawkers struggle to make;
- High interest rates killing businesses;
- Effective return to “Cash and Carry” under NHIS as a result of Government arrears
- Weak Banking System and unstable financial system as well as crippling power outages termed ‘dumsor’
According to Mr. Ofori-Atta, within 2 years of the Akufo-Addo government the following successes have been chalked.
- A change in the management of the economy;
- A change from macroeconomic instability to macroeconomic stability;
- A change from a rising debt-to-GDP ratio to a declining debt-to-GDP ratio;
- Changing from a weak banking system to a strong, well capitalised and better supervised banking system;
- A change from taxation that undermines production;
- A change from a predominance of sole sourcing to competitive tendering in procurement; this changed has seen the Public Procurement Authority making total savings of GH¢1.8 billion from January 2017 to October 2018. It is important to recognise that not a single pesewa was saved all the years under the previous government until 2017.
- A change from the manual process of clearing goods, with its attendant corruption at the ports to a paperless process;
- A change to bring about a reduction in electricity tariff;
- A change from Dumsor to reliable power;
- A change in the access to and cost of education, to introduce free Senior High School education;
- A change from the abolition of teacher training allowances to a restoration of teacher training allowances;
- A change from Cash and Carry in NHIS to a functioning national health insurance system where arrears have been cleared;
- A change from the abolition of nursing training allowances to a restoration of nursing training allowances;
- A change to increase the share of the DACF to persons with disabilities from 2 percent to 3 percent;
- A change in a moribund private sector to a vibrant job creating private sector;
- A change from rising graduate unemployment to reducing graduate unemployment through programmes such as the 100,000 strong NABCO corps;
- A change from a dying colonial railway network system
Michael Eli Dokosi/goldstreetbusiness.com