Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister
The Ministry of Finance and the Economic Management Team (EMT) have begun the process of preparing the 2017 Budget and economic policy of government.
The Ministry, in a statement released yesterday, said its focus is to audit the fiscal account and provide a credible basis for economic policy going forward.
“Our commitment is to restore fiscal policy credibility, and transparency as well as policy clarity,” it said.
According to the statement, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has already held bilateral meetings with various ministries, departments and agencies to review their policies and ensure consistency with government’s medium term policy strategy.
“During the review and audit process, Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs) submitted unbudgeted projects and commitment of about GHC7 billion, which will have to be validated as the budget process continues.
“We will have a better sense of the numbers before the budget, and have a team assembled to complete our forensic audit to confirm the validity of these expenses and that value for money was obtained at all times,” it said.
The Ministry said it plans to rationalize public expenditure, strengthen contract management and realign statutory funds to prioritize projects.
“We are committed to ensuring fiscal discipline and good economic governance, focusing on transparent and accountable use of public resources in accordance with the new public Financial Management Law,” it said.
Challenges For New Minister
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that Ghana’s short to medium-term prospects were at risk due to the emergence of large fiscal and external imbalances in recent years which slowed growth.
The Fund added that the Mahama-led NDC government’s attempts at achieving fiscal consolidation since 2013 have been challenged by external shocks like fall in commodity prices on the international markets (cocoa, gold and oil), policy slippages and the ever-rising interest cost.
The IMF quoted the net international reserves position of Ghana as a weak one with a depreciated exchange rate which was seeing a downward spiral all in mid-2014.
According to the Fund, the situation stabilized on the back of the Eurobond issuance in September 2014 and a short-term loan contracted by Cocoa Board.
The Fund described the rising public debt stock as alarming and unsustainable.
By Cephas Larbi