Private sector bodies in the country have generally expressed both positive and negative perceptions about the 2009 budget made public last week.
While some lauded the budget for giving priority to agriculture which will serve as a backbone to industrial growth, others expressed concerns over the inadequate attention given to certain critical areas such as energy.
Wilson Atta Krofa, President of the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) commended the budget, noting that it was directed towards stabilizing the imbalance in the macro economy but described the reduction in petroleum taxes as unnecessary.
Parliament passed the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies Bill, 2009) and the Debt Recovery (Tema Oil Refinery Company) Fund Bill, 2009, to pave way for the reduction in fuel prices.
And Mr. Krofa said, “For the country to lose GH¢50 million a month due to this reduction without benefiting the poor who constitute the majority of the population, hence it was not prudent for government to do so”, he told CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE.
“Generally, I'm satisfied about the budget since it was started by the past administration”.
Philip Abayori, President of the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association of Ghana also told this paper that government policy towards agriculture is highly welcome since it will help farmers to produce more to feed the nation. He however emphasized the need for increased access to credit for farmers and fishermen.
At a round table discussion to review the 2009 budget and economic policy statement of the government yesterday, several associations under the private sector including the Ghana Internet Service Providers (GIPSA), the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) and the Consumer Association of Ghana also expressed some reservations about the budget.
On his part, Andrew Lawson, Executive Director of the Energy Foundation, expressed some misgivings about the budget, which according to him, failed to address energy conservation in the country.
Ghana experienced energy crisis during the latter part of 2006 and part of 2007, and Mr. Lawson called for pragmatic policies that will ensure that the nation implements efficient energy conservation programmes.
Ezer Yeboah-Boateng who represented GIPSA urged government to consider taking off the internet providers from the Communication Services Tax (CST) system.
He also called on the National Communication Authority (NCA) to consider expediting action on licences for new technologies such as the Third Generation technology or 3G. “New technologies are being developed and even there is the 4G, hence NCA must grant licences quickly”.
Dr. Enerst Addison, Head of Research who represented the Bank of Ghana allayed fears that Ghana's sovereign rating has hit a snag. He however noted that if proper policies are not implemented, the country's sovereign rating will deteriorate.
“Private sector expectations, both consumers and producers, are key to the policy decisions. We have to make sure that new financing created by the budget does not affect interest and lending rates which are key to the private sector.”
By Charles Nixon Yeboah