The government has set an ambitious target to turn the economy around within the next two and half-years.
“Mr Speaker, just as we did in 2017 and 2020, government is resolved to continue to provide the necessary leadership to turn the economy around again within the next two and half years,” Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, gave the assurance yesterday when he presented the Mid-Year Budget review and economic policy of government to Parliament.
The 2022 budget dubbed “Agyenkwa Budget,” was on the theme “Building a Sustainable Entrepreneurial Nation, Fiscal Consolidation and Job Creation.”
He said the current economic challenges facing the country for which government had sought an International Monetary Fund Programme for a Balance of Payment support, was not peculiar to Ghana and a global one.
The government early this month directed the Minister of Finance to begin the process to embark on an IMF programme to support the country’s Enhanced Domestic Programme to revive the economy.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the government was confident of a turn-around in the economy because it had laid the key infrastructure upon which the country could anchor on for national growth.
He said the government was currently developing an Enhanced Domestic Programme to complement the GhanaCARES “Obaatan pa” programme to return us to a path of macroeconomic stability, debt sustainability, robust growth and a Ghana beyond Aid, adding that the EDP would be the basis of our negotiation with the IMF.
“Mr Speaker, let me be quick to add that we are not wavering at all in our resolve to turn this country around. Ours is of a history of turning things around when the country is in crisis. When the NPP took over the reins of government in 2017, we inherited a challenged economy under an IMF programme, which we successfully turned around and exited the programme in 27 months. We have done it before and we will do it again, and with the help of this House and the support of the good people of Ghana we shall come out of this stronger,” he said.
The Finance Minister said satisfied with the stability the government had brought to the economy and the policies implemented to sustain growth, the IMF in April 2019 gave the country opportunity to exit its programme.
“Ghana’s growth rate had moved up from 3.7 per cent in 2016, the lowest since 1992, to average seven per cent from 2017 to 2019. We had cut the rate of inflation down by 33 per cent over the same period to 7.9 per cent by the end of 2019, average lending rates had dropped from the 30s to 23.6 per cent and still dropping. Our trade balance was up to $2.3 billion. The cedi remained relatively stable. Indeed, the amount of our total revenues that we used to service our debt had dropped from the 2018 spike of 73 per cent to 58.9 per cent by December 2019,” Mr Ofori-Atta, said.
“In the coming months, we will continue to optimise and support our flagship programmes, and make strategic investments in the real sector to increase production, enhance productivity, and create jobs. The YouStart programme will be a fundamental intervention to advancing an entrepreneurial nation to create jobs,” MrOfori-Atta said.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the collective achievement of those initiatives would offer a more permanent respite and improve the capacity of the country to withstand similar challenges in the future.
He said the economic prospects of the country were bright, saying “But we will have to contend with recurrent external challenges, and adapt quickly to a new environment.”
Mr Ofori-Atta called on the citizens and Parliament to support the government, stressing that “I want this House to do exactly what it did in the earlier crisis of 2020; support us in our bid to reduce the impact of this global crisis on the nation and to tackle the vulnerabilities in our economy that make us prone to such shocks. The President wants this sovereign House to be a strategic partner in Government’s efforts to stabilise the economy and spur growth to create jobs.
Touching on the IMF programme, the Finance Minister said the government had earlier indicated it would not go to the Fund because the economic fundamentals were good.
He said the government was currently pursuing an IMF programme due to the difficult global and local economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war and was confident the country would come out successfully as it did previously.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE & JULIUS PETETSI