Business News of Saturday, 29 July 2017
Speakers at a public lecture on the prospects of the 2017 budget to propel economic growth have called for pragmatic steps to be taken to implement the key policy initiatives in the interest of national development.
They said even though there were good signals that the budget had the potential to create job opportunities and promote economic growth, it could only be possible through effective implementation and prudent fiscal management.
In separate statements, the speakers urged the government to be proactive in implementing key policies in the budget since that was the way forward to address national development challenges.
The lecture was organised by the Pentecost University College (PENVARS) Business Journal on the theme: “Ghana’s Development Agenda – Is the 2017 Budget a formula for success?”
Participants in the lecture were from the academia, industry, civil society organisations (CSOs) and a section of the public.
An Associate Professor at the Institute of Social, Statistical and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Professor Robert Darko Osei, said even though the 2017 Budget captured some policies that could propel development, it was important to be pragmatic in implementing such policies.
“The budget captured policies such as the one-village, one-dam, one-district, one-factory, and the one district, $1 million under the infrastructure for poverty eradication initiative. The focus on public-private partnership in implementing some of these policies is good, but the location and localisation of industries need to be thoroughly examined,” he said.
Speaking on economic growth and fiscal policies, Dr Osei said even though growth had been increasing since 1983, it was important for proper investment and increased saving to sustain it.
“If, indeed, we need to accelerate development, we have to invest and save diligently to avoid borrowing from sources that do not generate enough returns but rather compound our debt stock,” he said.
He said for development to be sustainable, governments ought to present budgets that balance over a period of time, but stressed that continuous borrowing would not create room for that to happen.
The Deputy Chairperson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr Esther O. Offei-Aboagye, also expressed worried about the potential the budget had to support the poor and disadvantaged groups.
“A classical instance is that the budget gives tax incentives on domestic flights. This will benefit the rich because poor people cannot benefit from this policy,” he said.
She expressed reservations about the untimely manner in which the legal processes for the roll out of some of the initiatives were being carried out.
“Currently, the bill for the establishment of Development Authorities to manage the infrastructure for poverty eradication initiative, including the Zongo Development Fund, is in limbo.
“There is also the question of putting in place the right institutional structures to mop up the development gaps as the policies are rolled out,” she said.
Dr Offei-Aboagye called for active citizens participation in the development process and stressed that the budget was just an intention or vision by government that required continuous monitoring by citizens to ensure that it was diligently implemented.
A member of the National Media Commission, Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, urged citizens to interrogate the budget to be sure that it works to the country’s benefit.
“There ought to be deliberate national discourses to police it,” she said.
The Rector of the Pentecost University College, Apostle Daniel Walker, said the budget statement could be promising but what was most important was how the government remained committed and faithful to it.