Dr Opoku Afriyie, a Senior Economics lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, has called for drastic reduction in the importation of foreign goods and services to protect local industries.
He bemoaned the rate at which foreign imports dominate local production.
At the opening of a two-day interactive session organised by the International Federation of Economic Journalists (IFEJ) for media practitioners in Kumasi on the 2013 Budget, Dr Afriyie reiterated the need for government to focus on building the economy around the private sector, especially local industries and also reduce the importation of some goods and services to enable local entrepreneurs thrive. The event was funded by STAR Ghana, a multi-donor pooled organisation.
Dr Afriyie advised Government to take firm decision in promoting the private sector to engineer growth and take the lead in driving the economy.
Noting that Government must adopt prudent legitimate, financial and affirmative actions to improve the country’s economy, think-tanks present argued that the days of favouring foreign industries at the expense of local ones due to the fear of World Trade Organisation regulations are over.
Chairman of the Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI), Robert Kwakye Nketia, challenged authors of the 2013 Budget over the facts and figures they presented.
He said the huge figures in the budget were cooked and did not represent the true picture of the present state of the economy.
Mr Nketia said Government’s contention that fuel products were subsidized was false because the tax elements charged on petroleum products took care of the so-called subsidy.
He said government only paid lip service to agriculture, which engages about 70 per cent of the country’s population.
Opening the workshop, President of IFEJ, Lloyd Evans, said the forum was the first of its kind for journalists to re-examine the country’s budget by making the necessary criticisms to inform and educate members of the public on some of the key areas.
He noted that it is high time journalists set national agenda on the country’s budget instead of waiting for members of the public to do so.
Dr Joseph Kwadwo Asenso, an official of the Ministry of Finance, who gave a brief overview of the 2013 Budget, took participants through the various areas of the budget, explaining the difficulties that were involved.
He touched on the quantum of deficits in the budget and explained that failure to make up tax targets, the migration and payment of most public sector employees on the Single Spine Salary Structure and failure of donor agencies to honour their obligation to augment the budget contributed to some deficits experienced in the previous year.