The gospel according to Ken Ofori-Atta

Finance Minister; Ken Ofori-Atta

Ghana’s Finance Minister; Ken Ofori-Atta has submitted the budget statement and economic policy for 2019 while taking stock of happenings last year.

Below is series of statements he made on the floor of parliament on November 15.

The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) completed the GDP rebasing exercise in September 2018 showing the economy expanded by 24.5 percent.

Per capita GDP rose from GH¢7,110 to GH¢8,863 while the 2017 GDP growth rate of 8.5 percent was revised down to 8.1 percent.

The first half of 2018, real GDP grew by 5.4 percent, reflecting slower growth in the oil sector compared to 2017, but a revised target of 5.6 percent growth this year is set to be achieved. Fiscal deficit target of 4.5 percent for the year (3.7 % in the rebased series) is set to be met.

The Bank of Ghana is keenly implementing monetary policy resulting in inflation dropping to single digit, lower interest rates, and a relatively stable currency, despite recent turbulence in emerging markets, and a strengthening US Dollar.

The consolidation of the five banks and shutting down of two last year cost government GH¢9.9 billion.

Government capitalised the Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited (a wholly owned Government of Ghana and licensed by the Bank of Ghana as a universal bank), with GH¢450 million further issuing a bond with a face value of GH¢7.6 billion to cover the gap between the deposit liabilities and the remaining good assets of the failed banks.

Through Government’s intervention in August this year, deposits of some GH¢11.0 billion have been saved as well as some 2,661 jobs in addition to several hundred saved in 2017 from the insolvent 2 banks that were closed in 2017.

The Bank of Ghana has also set up an Office of Ethics and Internal Investigations to investigate all allegations of misconduct by staff, including any role in the collapse of the defunct banks.

DKM Diamond Microfinance Limited had its license revoked in February 2016 .The official liquidator received 99,858 claims and the validated claims amounted to GH¢502 million. Out of the 99,858 claims, 79,708 (80 percent) have been settled and depositors have been paid. The Government has set aside funds at the Bank of Ghana to pay the remaining 20 percent of depositors upon validation. An additional 12,612claims have been fully provided for, but the customers have not as yet been able to show proof of deposit.

This means that 92 percent of DKM claims from depositors have been paid or provided for. Depositors for the remaining 7,568 claims of above GH¢10,000 are yet to reach agreement with the liquidators.

President delighted that in 2018, 270,000 young Ghanaians (90,000 in 2017/2018 and 180,000 in 2018/2019) who would not have been able to access secondary education were able to attend because of Free SHS.

National Health Insurance Scheme doing better and paying claims.

Efforts to improve the business environment were duly recognised in the 2019 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, in which Ghana’s position improved from 120th to 114th, out of 190 countries.

Government has provided strong support to stimulate the private sector. In addition to bringing down interest rates, direct support was given the sector, through the Stimulus and 1D1F programmes. The 1D1F programme has generated strong interest from several banks. Fifty-five (55) companies have been funded, with several others in the pipeline.

Government’s ‘Planting for Food and Jobs Programme’ (PFJ) is yielding impressive results. In order to consolidate the gains achieved under programme, Government, last week, operationalised the Ghana Commodity Exchange, the first electronic commodity exchange in West Africa. Going forward, there will always be a ready market for farmers who produce grains such as corn and soya, among others.

Through this exchange an estimated 200,000 skilled jobs will be provided not only in Accra but in key agriculture production and trading centres including Wenchi, Tamale and Sandema which host warehouses to support the exchange. Some of the jobs to be created include commodity brokers, data analysts, credit officers and grain pickers.

Ghana’s credibility in the international capital market is on the rise. As a testament to the prudent fiscal and monetary policies of this Government, in May 2018, The Akufo- Addo Government successfully issued its first Eurobond, with shining success: a hat trick of 3 Ls:

  • Largest Eurobond issuance of $2 billion;
  • The Longest maturity period of 30 years; and 33
  • The Lowest pricing in Ghana’s history–8.627 percent for the 30-year bond!

Ghana attracted global industry giants such as Volkswagen, Nissan, ExxonMobil and Siemens to establish local assembly plants.

The private sector added 208,620  formal jobs in the first 10 months of 2018, an increase on the 197,000 formal jobs registered in 2017. We have resourced the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to develop a more robust system to track employment on a quarterly basis.

Government is also doing its part on job creation. Over the period 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Finance granted financial clearance to various agencies to recruit 88,719 Ghanaians into critical sectors of agriculture, health, and education to enable us to improve service delivery. In addition, the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO), a three – year transitional job opportunity for young graduates has enrolled 100,000 young graduates to support the delivery of critical public services.

The AU Commission will hold the Second African Girls Summit on ending child marriage under the theme: “Taking the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage forward: through promotion of adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights” in Accra, Ghana.

The Summit aims to address the core need of investing in adolescent education specifically access to services such as sexual health care, sexuality education and rights protection.

The Summit will be a follow-up on the 1st AGS- where the main objective was to share experiences and good practices as well as challenges on ending child marriages at country, regional and international levels, particularly with countries that have already launched the AUC Campaign on ending Girls’ Child Marriage.

In light of this the second AGS will be looking at progress on commitments, interventions, measures and recommendations of keeping girls in school and facilitating Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR).

Two days prior to the Girls Summit there will also be a Youth Pre- Summit from 21 – 22 November for youth where they would be given the opportunity to bring their ideas from different perspectives such as education for boys and girls, sexual reproductive health, ending child marriage, the role of the youth in community, among others and the way forward.

The AU Commission views child marriage as a crosscutting issue and recognizes that it is a development, cultural, health, political and religious issue – among others.

The AU specifically promotes policies related to young people’s’ rights and is mandated by its various instruments focusing on the rights of children and youth and has promoted adaptation and implementation of these instruments at regional and national level as well as conducted monitoring of implementation by Member States to ensure accountability.