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Tue, Nov

ROADS, RAIL HIGH ON AGENDA: FINANCE MINISTER DROPS HINTS ABOUT 2019 BUDGET

Business & Economy

The 2019 Budget is expected to accelerate the pace of infrastructure development, particularly in the areas of roads and rail, to help open up Ghana for rapid economic development.

The 2019 Budget is expected to accelerate the pace of infrastructure development, particularly in the areas of roads and rail, to help open up Ghana for rapid economic development.

 

According to the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, opening up the country through massive construction of new road and rail networks aligns perfectly with the Akufo-Addo government’s industrialisation agenda.

More relief

The government says the 2019 Budget is designed to bring more relief and hope and to raise the standard of living for the broadest spectrum of Ghanaians.

It also marks the beginning of the country’s exit from the International Monetary Fund’s extended credit facility programme. In presenting his Budget later this month, therefore, the Minister for Finance will be expected to show how the government intends to maintain fiscal discipline, increase liquidity and sustain heightened growth.

He will also explain how the state plans to invest in massive infrastructure without compromising on debt sustainability and how Ghana will expand availability of credit to benefit small and medium-scale enterprises.

Addressing a stakeholders’ meeting in Kumasi to solicit input for the 2019 Budget, Mr Ofori-Atta said that the government’s plans for infrastructure development are also in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals principle of “leaving no one behind”.

As the government strives to transform the economy structurally, he said, it would work assiduously to ensure that all citizens enjoy a share of the great resources with which the nation is endowed.

Infrastructure gap

Presenting his mid-year fiscal policy review of the 2018 Budget statement and economic policy recently, the Finance Minister acknowledged that the country needs substantial sums to bridge the infrastructure gap.

He explained that Ghana’s infrastructure deficit, which is in the region of US$30 billion, can be tackled with an agreement under which the government intends to leverage the nation’s bauxite deposits.

In an effort to address this infrastructure deficit, the government has reached a barter agreement with Sinohydro Corporation Ltd of China, Mr Ofori-Atta told participants in the Kumasi forum. The monies raised will cover many new road projects, bridges, interchanges, hospitals and rural electrification.

Parliament has approved the $2 billion Master Project Support Agreement between Ghana and Sinohydro for construction of priority infrastructure.

Other investments

Mr Ofori-Atta also said the government plans to continue to pursue investment in human capital and agriculture.

Through the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP), resources will be provided directly to shore up development in Ghana’s rural areas, he said.

The Free Senior High School, Nation Builders Corp and Planting for Food and Jobs programmes will also be given priority.

Goodbye to IMF

Meanwhile, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has disclosed that cabinet reviewed the government’s economic policies and the 2019 Budget last weekend.

This, the third Budget of the Akufo-Addo government, will run outside the supervision of the IMF. It will mark the beginning of Ghana’s exit from the IMF programme, in which the nation sought almost $918 million over three years, with conditions attached.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said over the past two years the government has managed to correct previous slippages from set IMF targets.

It is hopeful of a successful exit from the extended credit facility programme at the end of this year.

Ghana’s improved macro environment is evident in the reduced policy rate, reduced inflation, reduced fiscal deficit, improved growth, improved reserves and improved credit ratings, he said.

“We do not claim to have finished solving all of Ghana’s problems,” the Minister said. “But our work in the first two years is a good foundation which should enable us to do more in the coming years to further cushion the Ghanaian and even push him/her towards a more comfortable life in the medium term.”

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