Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta is expected to announce the abolition of import levies and taxes among others on some financial services as he prepares to present the 2017 budget in Parliament Thursday.
The Budget presentation, which will be the first of the Akufo-Addo administration would be also expected to spell out sources of funding for a number of the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) promised policies including free senior high school (SHS) and reduction in fuel and utility tariffs.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said government would fund the cost of public SHS for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017/2018 academic year onwards.
He explained that by free SHS there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees and no utility fees.
Spelling out the details of the policy “so that no one in Ghana is left in any doubts”, President Akufo-Addo added that in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”
There has been a raging controversy after Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo in an interview with Joy News said government might use the Ghana Heritage Fund to finance the policy which is starting in the 2017/2018 academic year.
National Democratic Congress (NDC) minority in Parliament described government’s decision to use the Heritage Fund as “lazy and incompetent.”
At a news conference addressed by former Deputy Finance Minister, Casiel Ato Forson, the NDC MPs said any attempt to divert the Fund could destabilise the economy of the country.
However, Obuasi West Member of Parliament (MP), Kwaku Kwarteng, who is on Parliament’s Finance Committee said government has not taken any definite decision to use the Heritage Fund to finance the free senior high school (SHS) policy.
Also, the Budget is expected to focus on stimulating growth and job creation through private sector development aimed at getting Ghana working again, the Finance Ministry has said.
The 2016 NPP Manifesto promised to work at implementing a lot of policies which would arrest the current unemployment rate in the country and enhance the lives of Ghanaians.
Job creation was on top of the agenda to solve the country’s crippling unemployment crisis with now Trade Minister Alan Kyeremanten saying “we, in the NPP, have the formula for job creation.”
The NPP stalwart addressing some supporters said, “Nana Akufo-Addo’s message everywhere he goes is that he is coming to create jobs for all Ghanaians. The creation of jobs is what Ghanaians must look at before voting.”
The “1-District-1-Factory” policy, he stated, would be one of the programmes for the creation of thousands of jobs for the teeming masses of unemployed Ghanaian youth across the country.
He also noted that the creation of an enabling environment for the private sector to flourish would be a priority area for the government of Nana Akufo-Addo.
The Budget would include measures to restore fiscal discipline and good economic governance, transparent and accountable use of public resources in accordance with the new Public Financial management law and to provide a credible basis for economic policy clarity going forward.