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16.02.2009 Business & Finance

2009 budget in final phase

By myjoyonline

Nana Dwabeng Siribour speaks to Joy News

Government has served notice a draft budget for the 2009 fiscal year is almost ready for submission to Parliament for approval.

The first revenue and expenditure plan under the Mills administration has been under preparation since the President met with his economic advisers at Akosombo in the Eastern Region to discuss policy options for the next four years.

Finance Minister Dr Kwabena Duffour is said to be putting finishing touches to the document.

Sources close to the Finance Ministry have said highlights of the budget would include strategies to boost revenue generation in the face of the global financial crisis and the expected decline in international donor support for the country.

As a result, key revenue collection agencies such as the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) would be put under one arm to ensure efficiency in revenue collection.

The budget is also expected to have a special focus on agriculture in keeping with the promise of the Mills administration of boosting production in the sector.

Reports making the rounds also say the new educational reform introduced by the Kufuor administration would also be highlighted.

The reform has come under attack by the ruling party with arguments that the four-year senior high school programme would be burdensome for parents and guardians of senior high school students.

The Chief Director at the Finance Ministry, Nana Juaben-Boaten Siriboe, told Joy FM earlier Monday that the budget would be read soon after the President's sessional address scheduled for February 16, 2009.

“But we are working feverishly to have the budget prepared for 2009,” he hinted.

Joy FM has also gathered that a copy of the draft budget will be presented to the President Mills later Monday.

Budget deficit
The slash in budget deficit would also receive attention as Dr Duffuor has promised slashing the current deficit of 12% to 9%.

'We have a four-year programme to set up jobs and provide small scale industries, but the first priority is to achieve stability. Without macro stability, you can't grow, therefore stability is our priority,' Duffuor told Parliament at his vetting.

'I will not sit here and say all is well. The truth is that there are serious challenges, but the good news is that they can be fixed and we are committed to fixing them, there are some structural problems which we need to look at and with all these, 3 percent deficit is achievable,' he said.

The Mills administration takes office at a time when inflation and interest rates have been on the upward spiral. Inflation is currently holding at 19.86%.

Nevertheless, Dr Duffuor has said the country's economic growth would outpace the emerging market average thanks in part to continuing good prices for its main exports, gold and cocoa, the Reuters news agency reported.

Story by Fiifi Koomson