Finance Minister Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, presenting the 2019 Budget Statement, to Parliament, on Thursday, commended the patience, perseverance, sacrifices, activism and partnership ‘the good people of Ghana’ have extended to the Government in the past 22 months towards achieving economic growth.
He said the Government had not taken its mandate that had a direct bearing on the wellbeing or otherwise of Ghanaians for granted and thus appreciated the goodwill it had received so far.
It had, therefore, taken very tough decisions, he said, which was yielding positive signals and the Government was on track to aching its macro-economic targets for the year.
“We’re not there yet; we still have a long way to go in fulfilling the destiny of this blessed Ghana,” he said.
“Indeed, we’re being re-paid for the years the locust had eaten,” he said.
The theme for the Budget is “A Stronger Economy for Jobs and Prosperity”, which aims at modernising agriculture and industrialising the Ghanaian economy, protecting the vulnerable and creating jobs and prosperity for the Ghanaian.
The Finance Minister noted that everything was clear that the nation was moving forward in the right direction and at the verge of moving from the inherited International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme by the end of the year.
He said it had been a collective effort of all Ghanaians, particularly, the government for exercising competence and prudent economic management.
He said the Government of President Akufo-Addo was not elected to complain about the economic quagmire that was stirring at the nation, but to get things done and fix what was broken and it was determined to do just that.
The Minister said it was important to note what the economic situation the Government inherited to appreciate the gains chalked so far.
He said the nation witnessed a declining economic growth of 14 per cent in 2011 to 3.7 per cent in 2016, the lowest in some two decades, with declining growth in agriculture, negative growth inindustry and rising unemployment rate.
Fiscal deficit had reached 9.3 of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016, while there was a Debt to GDP ratio of 73.1 per cent; falling cedi exchange rate, high interest rates, return to cash and carry under the National Health Insurance Scheme, weak banking system and collapsing Ghanaian businesses as a result of five-years of power crisis.
He said within two years of change in the management of the economy, there had been macro-economic stability, better debt to GDP ratio, a stronger vitalised and better supervised banking system, and competitive tendering and procurement processes, which had enabled the National Procurement Authority to rake-in savings of GHc1.8 billion from January 2017 to October 2018.
Mr Ofori-Atta said a Budget determined how the precious assets of the country - the people, the land, the natural resource and the treasury should be stewarded for national growth and human development.
“In spite of the challenges, we approach this process with genuine humility and gratitude to a Great God. We recognise that the current resources are insufficient to meet every need and every demand of the Ghanaian; however, there are no limitations to our collective potential as a people,” he said.
“Our will and our hope for the sacrifices we make and the seeds we sow today will achieve sustainable results, putting Ghana on an irreversible path of enviable empowerment,” Mr Ofori-Atta noted.
The Minister said the Akufo-Addo-led Government was delivering on its mandate and it was evident in the impressive strides the nation had made in the past 22 months.
The presentation of the Budget is in compliance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution, which required the Government to present the Financial Policy Statement of the country to the legislative house.
It is the third budget of the Akufo-Addo Government since assuming office in 2017 and would also mark the beginning of Ghana’s exit from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, under which the country sought 918 million dollars for over three years with conditions.
The 2017 Budget, first under the ruling government, was tagged as the “Asempa Budget”, the 2018 Budget was termed as the “Edwuma Budget” and the 2019 Budget is being touted as the “Ayidaso Budget”, which literally means hope.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has said the Budget would reflect the hope Ghanaians have in the Government and designed to bring more relief and improvement in the standard of living of the people.
It is to maintain the Fiscal Discipline, which has been restored, increase liquidity in the Ghanaian economy and sustain the heightened growth.
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