'You Are Different From Bawumia' - Minority Praises Ken Ofori-Atta

The Minority in Parliament has lauded the performance of Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta in the presentation of Thursdays 2017 budget, describing it as propaganda free.

Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu at a press briefing in Accra Friday said the Minister stuck to the truth about Ghana's economy - something he believes other government officials would not have done.

"We note that the Finance Minister refrained from the unfortunate propaganda that other leaders of the NPP use to do, especially Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, when it comes to discussing the economy," said.

"He rightly acknowledged the significant contributions made in the management of the economy by the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government."

Mr Ofori-Atta presented the first budget of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to Parliament itemising seven programmes that would be executed in 2017.

He said the micro-economic outturn for 2016 was mixed with some subdued growth and performance.

"Inflation,which remained elevated for most part of 2016, began to slow-down towards the end of the year. Inflation began the year at 19.0 percent, peaked at 19.2 percent in March and ended the year at15.4 percent."

"Interest rates in 2016 exhibited mixed performance. The Bank of Ghana Policy Rate was kept at 26 percent until October 2016 as risks to inflation and growth were assessed as balanced.

The policy rate, however, was reduced to 25.5 percent, as inflation pressures eased while domestic growth conditions continued to deteriorate. Yields on short-term Government securities decreased, while those of medium to long-term GOG bonds increased in line with Government’s policy to properly align the yield curve and Extend the maturity profile," he said.

On the external sector, Mr Ofori-Atta said Ghana's balance of payments (BOP) turned surplus for the first time since 2011 - a consequence of "improved current account balance."

"The BOP surplus was US$247 million, compare to a deficit of US$129 million in 2015. The trade balance improved from a deficit of US$3.1 billion in 2015 to a deficit to US$1.7 billion in 2016 due to increased exports receipts by 7.2 percent and a decline in imports by 5.3 percent," he said.

But the minority said the statement of the Minister was devoid of the posture put up by NPP officials when they want to run down the economic performance of former President Mahama's government.

"A review of the macro-economic outturn for 2016 reveals significant gains made by the previous NDC government." The NDC MPs, however, raised issues with the failure of government to indicate how it intends to finance its many social intervention programmes.

"A key expectation of this budget in light of the confusion that arose in the Akufo-Addo government in the wake of the Heritage Fund debacle, was that, very specific sources of funding for the implementation of the promises made by the party on the campaign trail were not disclosed."