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2015 Budget Must Deal With Ailing Economy - Majority, Minority Leaders Appeal   
 
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18-Nov-2014  
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The Majority and the Minority in Parliament have called on the government to come up with a budget statement with detailed strategies to deal with the ailing economy and help straighten out the difficulties Ghanaians have had to endure in recent times.

While the Majority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin, called for “difficult and bitter medicine that will cure the ailing economy”, the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, asked for pragmatic steps to restore investor confidence in the economy.

They said these in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic on their expectations of the budget statement scheduled to be presented to Parliament by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, tomorrow.

Country in crises

Mr Bagbin said the country had faced a number of difficult challenges in a number of areas of national life which some had described as “crises”.

Revenue generation, he said, had not been smooth, a situation which had adversely affected statutory payments which were in arrears.

He said social interventions were not forth coming and called for plans to cut down on waste and ensure proper utilisation of the scarce resources generated.

It was his expectation, he said, that the technical advice that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided would be fed into the policies and plans of the government.

Abnormal solutions needed

Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu said erratic power supply, coupled with the lack of access to capital, had stifled the growth of local industries, leading to a general decline in investor confidence in the Ghanaian economy.

He said the government ought to provide practical steps to revamp the agricultural sector in order to tackle the massive unemployment facing the country.

Food security, he said, was threatened by reports that the country could experience maize shortage in the coming weeks.

Local businesses dying out

“There is no access to capital. The government is driving out local business concerns because interest rates keep soaring. We must know what the government is doing to address these genuine challenges,” he said.

The poor performance of the cedi, which had not done very well over the past months, Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu said, ought to be addressed, in addition to steps being taken towards the attainment of the criteria set for the West African monetary zone.

Ghana, he said, had scored zero out of the 10 criteria towards the adoption and use of a single currency, saying that had not played well for the image of the country but deepened the loss of investor confidence in Ghana.

The fight against corruption, he said, had become a topical issue of immediate concern to Ghanaians, with the predominant fear that not much was being done by way of practical action by the government to deal with the problem.

Background

Ghana’s economy has been confronted with challenges since the beginning of this year.

It has been bedevilled by rising inflation, high interest rates, power outages, as well as huge internal and external debts.

Currently, Ghana’s debt is about 55 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

The situation has been exacerbated by frequent labour agitations.

These economic challenges recently compelled the government to seek support from the IMF.

Afrobarometer report

In the 2014 Afrobarometer survey report released in Accra recently, Ghanaians described the country’s economic condition and their own living conditions as “bad” or “very bad”.

It also showed that more Ghanaians were pessimistic (38 per cent) than optimistic (30 per cent) about improvement in the economy over the next 12 months.

“A large majority of Ghanaians (82 per cent) believe the country is heading in the ‘wrong direction’,” the survey indicated, adding that the assessment was worse than the 57 per cent of Ghanaians who held such a view in 2012.

Economic management

Most Ghanaians interviewed in the survey scored low marks for the government’s economic management performance, describing it as “fairly bad” or “very bad”.

It indicated that Ghanaians considered the management of the economy as the most important problem that the government ought to fix.

The Afrobarometer is an Africa-led, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues across 35 African countries.

In spite of the challenges, government officials are hopeful that the situation will ease out in the near future, contending that programmes to improve on road network, education and health are vigorously being pursued.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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