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09.02.2004 Business & Finance

Forum on budget held in Takoradi

By GNA
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Takoradi Feb.9 - GNA - Dr Akoto Osei, a Deputy Minister of Finance, on Monday, said the 2004 Budget was drawn up with the view to stabilising the economy and not to indulge in reckless spending during an election year.

Speaking at a Regional forum on the budget in Takoradi, he said previous governments spent recklessly during elections period and this weakened the economy.

Dr. Osei said the NPP government does not want to indulge in such a fiscal policy to the disadvantage of the economy.

He said for this reason, the budget could be rightly described as an election year budget because it is designed to build a strong and viable economy during and after the election period.

He said the budget was business friendly and hoped businessmen would take advantage of this to improve their businesses and set up new ones.

Dr. Osei said businesses would enjoy more tax holidays under the budget, adding that new agro-processing firms would enjoy five-year tax holiday, while waste processing enterprises would have seven-year tax holiday.

He said companies investing in production of cocoa industrial by-products would also enjoy five-year tax holiday.

Dr. Osei said the budget recommends the removal of duties on imported lumber and duty and VAT on imported inputs for fishing nets and fishing ropes and removal of taxes on musical instruments. He said the government is to establish a long-term savings plan to encourage people to save under the budget.

Dr. Osei said imported lumber, fishing nets, poultry and sugar would pass through the Takoradi Port with effect from July 1 this year. He said the budget voted an amount of 18 billion cedis for the purchase of new varieties of pineapple suckers for farmers to boost the country's export of pineapple.

Dr. Osei said the Ministry of Housing would soon come out with a new housing policy under which low cost houses would be sold to their occupants.

He said the government would establish a National Micro Finance Administration to coordinate and administer micro finance programmes. Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, who presided hoped the routing of imported lumber, sugar and other commodities through the Takoradi Port would activate the Port.

Answering a question, he said the previous government sold the Atlantic Hotel before it left office.

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