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19.02.2009 Business & Finance

Mills vows expenditure cuts

By myjoyonline
Mills vows expenditure cuts

President John Evans Atta Mills has announced a series of austerity measures to cut government spending.

He promised a drastic reduction in budget for official state protocol, government workshops and seminars.

Governments in the past have come under a barrage of criticism for what has been perceived to be the huge spending of state protocol.

Without specifying how much savings he expects of the drive, President Mills said “I am making sure that expenditure at the presidency does not become a burden on the people of this country.”

The president was speaking during his first State of the Nation Address to Parliament on Thursday.

The President also warned that although Ghana's integration into the global financial system is shallow, Ghanaians may have to brace themselves for some shocks emanating from the credit crunch.

He said reduced foreign aid and remittance flows to Ghanaians are sure repercussions of the crisis, demanding that local revenue mobilisation be strengthened.

President Mills pledged to invigorate revenue collection agencies such as the Value Added Tax (VAT) Service and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to effectively mobilize revenue to execute government priorities.

Describing the private sector as the “central machinery for providing jobs”, the President also promised to form a lasting partnership with non-government entities and added that “their activities will be monitored at the heart of government business.”

He also indicated Government workers may soon start enjoying the single-spine wages and salaries scheme being spearheaded by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The President commended the country's labour force for exercising restraint on their quest for the implementation of the scheme.

The proposed purchase of two presidential jets also received a mention. President Mills said the state would review the purchase terms of the two aircraft secured by the Kufuor administration in 2008.

“We do not think we can afford these in our present circumstances,” he stressed.

The purchase of the two aircraft, a 12-seater Falcon 900, currently serving as presidential jet and an Airbus for the Ghana Air Force, generated loads of controversy in the country.

The Parliamentary Committee for the Interior on March 15, 2008 deferred a meeting on the budget for the two aircraft demanding a clarification on the total amount involved in the transactions.

President Mills also promised to wage a fierce campaign to boost agricultural production in the country.

The sector contributes some 35 per cent to the country's GDP while employing over 60 percent of national workforce.

He said the Aveyime rice project would soon receive a shot in the arm.

The first Sessional Address of the President precedes the national budget for 2009 which would soon be presented to the House.

Story by Fiifi Koomson