Business News of Tuesday, 1 August 2017
Mr Ken Ofori Atta, Minister of Finance, has said the country’s macroeconomic indicators are pointing to the right direction, attributing these successes to the various strategies put in place to ensure fiscal stability and growth.
He said currently inflation had taken a downward trend, with the Cedi stabilised, and other macroeconomic indicators also showing positively strength in the first half-year of the Akufo-Addo-led Administration.
Mr Ofori-Atta who was presenting the Mid-Year Review Budget and the Fiscal Policy of the Government to Parliament, in Accra on Monday, gave key the highlights of the 2017 Budget Performance.
He listed a number of taxes abolished by the Government in its 2017 ‘Asempa’ Budget, and said the Government’s macro-economic targets for 2017 and interventions were working and in some cases had exceeded expectations.
He said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the first quarter was 6.6 per cent against 4.4 per cent same time last year; while a fiscal deficit of 2.7, compared to 4 per cent in 2016 had been achieved, alongside a cut in the Bank of Ghana (BoG) policy rate reduction by 21 per cent.
The Finance Minister said the Gross International Reserves was 3.4 months equivalent to 2.8 months as at the first quarter of last year, while Interest rates had also gone down by more than 500 basis points because of the consistent fall in headline inflation.
He said average interest rate had reduced from 16.4 per cent to 12.08 per cent at the end of June 2017.
He said the Government had chosen debt management strategy, which aimed at borrowing at minimum cost to reduce re-financing risk and re-profile debts, which did not increase the debt stock.
Again, the Finance Minister said nominal GDP had been revised as had non-oil tax revenue; Corporate Income Tax and Import Taxes collection had also been revised downwards.
He said there had been the revision of fiscal deficit from 6.5 to 6.3 per cent of GDP over the period.
Mr Ofori -Atta said these, notwithstanding, the Free SHS, School Feeding, Planting for Food and Jobs, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and some key infrastructure developments would be protected from cuts.
He cited a number of setbacks, saying ongoing investigations had unearthed massive under-declaration at the ports, which had contributed to revenue shortfalls over the period.
The Government, he said, was currently clearing the huge arrears it inherited from the previous Administration, and was investigating it in an audit, which was expected to end in October this year.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the Government was, however, not intimidated by the state of affairs, but was committed to ensure that its promises to Ghanaians were duly delivered.