Business News of Wednesday, 15 March 2017
The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana says government’s proposed ‘planting for food and jobs campaign’ needs more clarity to draw stakeholder support.
Under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs campaign’ government is seeking to increase production of maize, rice, soybean, and sorghum by 30 percent, 49percent, 25percent, and 28percent respectively.
The Institute in its post 2017 budget analysis noted that: “Government’s policy objective for the agric sector in 2017 is to modernize agriculture, improve production efficiency, achieve food security and profitability of farmers, all aimed at significantly increasing agricultural productivity.
While this is a sound policy objective, there is clearly nothing new about it. Agricultural modernization has been the key objective of all governments since independence in 1957. Most of the policy proposals aimed at achieving modernization are essentially repetitions of previous policies.”
Dr. Charles Godfred Ackah, Senior Research Fellow and Head of Economic Division at ISSER, said while the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs campaign’ is one of the policy interventions, it lacks a clear implementation plan.
“How could increases in the production of these crops be attributed to the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign? How would the number of jobs created by the campaign be measured without a detailed implementation plan,” he questioned.
Touching on the country’s mounting debt stock, which currently stands at about 73percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Institute said government must curb its appetite for borrowing.
‘If Ghana wishes to grow faster, it must first raise the balance of payments constraint on demand and put an ice on its appetite for borrowing. Government must start to curb the relentless rise of debt. One thing is certain, which is that the longer managers of the economy delays in reckoning with Ghana’s debt problems, the more severe the eventual consequences will be,” ISSER warned.
Regarding fiscal projections in the budget, total revenue and grants are expected to increase from about 20percent in 2016 to about 22.1percent in 2017. However, expenditure is expected to decrease from 30.3percent in 2016 to 28.6percent.
These, ISSER admits, are positive measures contained in the budget but expressed concern as to whether government can remain fiscally disciplined throughout the year.
“First is whether the government can remain disciplined, fiscally. Second, it would be important for economic managers to balance the need for more priority spending with fiscal sustainability and other macroeconomic considerations”.