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Sun, Aug

OFORI-ATTA RESETS SPENDING PLANS IN MID-YEAR REVIEW AND WELCOMES “BRIGHT FUTURE” UNDER NPP

Business & Economy

The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has expressed satisfaction that even though it inherited a debt-riddled economy in 2017, the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led has not only served Ghanaians well but racked up a great many successes.

The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has expressed satisfaction that even though it inherited a debt-riddled economy in 2017, the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led has not only served Ghanaians well but racked up a great many successes.

 

Presenting the 2019 mid-year Budget review to Parliament in Accra yesterday, he said: “The shared successes achieved so far attest to the fact that, like the good stewards mentioned in the parable of the talents in the Bible, we have prudently utilised the very limited resources that we were entrusted with to achieve much more.

“I stood here, Mr Speaker, in March 2017 with our two fishes and five loaves, and the Lord has indeed blessed us.”

Made vital choices

Recounting Ghana’s economic successes, the Minister said that the government had made difficult but vital choices to correct the mistakes of the John Dramani Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government that compelled his NDC regime to turn to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

“We have successfully completed and exited the IMF-ECF [the International Monetary Fund’s Extended Credit Facility] programme,” Mr Ofori-Atta observed, “with the final review completed last April.

“We believe that the decisions we have taken so far will safeguard the long-term interest of the nation and our people and [we] thank the people for bearing with us.
“Economic management, after all, is about making difficult choices. It is about putting the national interest above sometimes populist, self-serving and short-term choices,” he said.

Fiscal discipline

He also said that as a promise-fulfilling team, the government has taken measures to protect the public purse.

“We have been able to entrench fiscal discipline through the strategic allocation of resources, efficiency in the use of public funds, as well as enhancing transparency and accountability in our management of the public purse,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

The Finance Minister also disclosed that the Akufo-Addo-led government has saved Ghana some GHC2.7 billion since it assumed office in 2017.

“To highlight the point … in a space of 31 months, by reviewing contracts that were either sole-sourced or procured through restrictive tender, the Akufo-Addo administration has made savings of GHS2.75 billion (which breaks down to GHS800 million in 2017, GHS1.1 billion in 2018, and GHS1.085 billion in 2019).”

Sacred covenant

Mr Ofori-Atta said the savings made by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) outstrip anything achieved under the NDC regime.

“In 2013 savings registered was zero cedis. In 2014, again, savings made amounted to zero cedis. In 2015, savings made totalled zero cedis. In 2016, again the PPA made zero cedis in savings. When it comes to how taxpayers’ monies have been managed, the facts and figures … speak loudly,” he told Parliament.

He was confident that the Akufo-Addo government has spent the taxes paid by citizens for the benefit of all Ghanaians.

“This is because we consider the social contract between government and the people as a sacred covenant,” he said.

Bright oil lights

Mr Ofori-Atta further told Parliament of the latest oil discovery by AGM Petroleum, an oil and gas exploration company in Ghana’s south Deepwater Tano.

“Just two weeks ago, AGM announced that they had discovered oil in an area called Blessing.
“This comes barely six months after Aker announced that it had discovered oil after a mightily successful drilling exercise in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points block, which was reported as the biggest find in Africa.
“The future is, indeed, brighter. All that I can say, Mr Speaker, is that we thank God for his blessings on Ghana.”

Domestic income

The Finance Minister offered further assurances that the government is improving domestic revenue generation.

“The restructuring of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the measures we have put in place to automate processes at the ports are already yielding positive results.
“We see a new sense of responsibility from those entrusted with collecting our taxes and we know that they will make this country proud by keeping the tax gates and ensuring that we raise the necessary tax revenues to continue to effectively fund priority programmes for the benefit of all Ghanaians,” he said.

Mr Ofori-Atta further pointed out that the government will not fail to punish individuals and companies that offend the drive to mobilise revenue.

Luxury tax scrapped

Meanwhile, in response to public concerns, the Finance Minister announced the immediate withdrawal of the Luxury Vehicles Levy, introduced last year with the aim of raising revenue to augment the public purse.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the government is no longer interested in implementing the levy.

He affirmed that the withdrawal had to do with concerns raised by a cross-section of the public regarding the implementation of the levy.

“… we have noted the suggestions from the general public on the implementation of this tax and, Mr Speaker, as a listening government, we are proposing to the House the withdrawal of the levy.
“We will continue to improve compliance, expand the tax net and explore other innovative sources of raising revenue,” he said.

Supplementaries

The Finance Minister appeared before Parliament in accordance with Article 179 (8) of Ghana’s 1992 constitution and Standing Order 143 of Parliament, which set out the modalities for laying supplementary estimates before Parliament.

Section 28 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016 (Act 921) also enjoins the Finance Minister to prepare and submit to Parliament a mid-year fiscal policy review.

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