President says elections pressure will not cause it to throw away fiscal discipline

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The Government on Sunday re-affirmed its commitment to maintain fiscal discipline in the 2020 fiscal year despite pressure to exceed its budget in an election year.

It said other statutory obligations for the year, especially the elections would be carried within the national resource envelope.

This is a critical feature of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda, which required the nation to focus on generating sufficient resources to meet key national obligations as a state, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Information Minister, said this when he addressed the media at the Peduase Lodge in the Eastern Region.

It was organised to brief the media after the 64th Cabinet meeting and ninth retreat focused on the economic turnaround.

It was chaired by President Akufo-Addo, ahead of the presentation of the 2020 Budget to Parliament on November 14.

The Minister said the Government had resolved to mobilise resources to complete all the 16 flagship programmes and other key infrastructures such as roads, health and education facilities, as well as provision of jobs within the Budget.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah stated that the Fiscal Responsibility Act was the new anchor of discipline for government, to prevent any administration from incurring a deficit beyond five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“President Akufo-Addo is particular that the Election Year pressure shall not and will not cause the treasury to throw away the fiscal discipline restored or achieved so far,” he added.

He therefore, underscored the need for all Ministers and Miniseries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to work assiduously to meet the revenue projections so that they would obtain the requisite resources to execute those key projects.

“Everybody must be aided and pay fair share to meet our national goal, therefore let’s all rally behind the government’s call to meet the desires of the people,” he said.

On the results of work done so far, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said Cabinet was delighted that Inflation, which measures the rate at which prices of goods and services increase, had declined from 15.3% in 2016 to 7.5% as at September, this year, through a combination of prudent policies in the real sector.

“The President has instructed the various agencies who have worked to achieve this to keep on the downward inflationary path so that Ghanaians continue to benefit from relatively lower rate of price increase.

“Through the various interventions of government particularly in agricultural sector including the Planting for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and Rural Development and Rearing for Food and Jobs, have seen growth and rebound, which is projected to remain above six per cent by the end of 2019.

“The President has instructed that resources be made available to continue with programmes to engineer growth and jobs across various economic sectors,” the Minister said.

This, he said, would ensure the economy continued to create more opportunities for the majority of Ghanaians.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the annual budget deficit, which accounts for the year-on-year gap between revenues and expenditure had closed significantly, noting that, in 2016, it was at 9.3% but had reduced to 4.7% this year.

The Minister said that the President was resolute in his marching orders to the Finance team to ensure that was observed.

The Minister noted that the interest rate had witnessed significant reduction from 25 percent to 15, with the President urging the Central Bank to explore ways to push this further down and make cost of borrowing cheaper for the Ghanaian private sector.

Additionally, the gross international reserves, which constituted 3.5 months of import cover at the end of 2016, the Akufo-Addo’s administration had increased it to 4.1% of import cover as at September, this year.

Despite the Bank of Ghana’s support during the trying moments of the local currency, the Minister indicated that, the fundamentals of the economy had been significantly strengthened due to prudent fiscal and monetary policies.

The President had instructed that no resource should be spared in ensuring that the 1.2 million Ghanaian children benefitted fully under the Free Senior High School Policy so that they can contribute significantly towards the country’s future growth, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said.

He assured of Government’s resolve to deal decisively with saboteurs, who are in the business of stealing and smuggling inputs like fertilizers outside the country under the PFJ programme.

In preparing the 2020 Budget, the President had given firm directives that the fiscal stability which had been restored must not be compromised.

“Mr President is insistent that everyone be encouraged and aided to pay their fair share in reaching our national goals and we all have to rally around that call.

“Flagship programmes of government are also to be completed. This will require completion of their funding and more rigour in the work of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies responsible for them.

“Mr President has been very clear to Ministers that he will not take any slippages on delivery of those programmes,” the Minister stated.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the President and Cabinet were upbeat about ending the year on a high fiscal and economic performance and delivering a budget for 2020, which would help consolidate the gains made so far for continued growth and prosperity agenda.

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