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Time for research-backed policies - Economists urge govt

By Daily Graphic
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The Economics Department of the University of Ghana is praying the government to introduce or withdraw policies only after proper research to evaluate the impact on different segments of the economy and society.

According to them, the country should emphasise research-based policy which will help the economy to derive the right results and impacts of policies it implements or abolishes.

'For example, tax policies should have incidence analysis to determine how it will impact a certain segment of the population or economy. Sometimes, some taxes may give you the revenue but the social impact may be ravaging,' Dr Osei Asibey, a senior lecturer at the department said, citing the recent smuggling of mobile phones into the country following the imposition of 20 per cent customs duty, as a case.

Dr Asibey made the call at the Stakeholders Meeting of the Ministry of Finance organised to solicit inputs into the 2014-2016 budget and economy policy of the government.

The ministry regularly organises such fora and this year's coincided with the switch over from activity—based budgeting to programme-based budgeting that the ministry is implementing as part of budget reforms to improve implementation efficiency and quality of spending.

Other presenters at the forum included the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), which wanted the manufacturing sector and certain raw materials to be exempted from duties and special levies; the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Ghana Employers Association, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Association of Contractors, as their counterparts civil engineers and building contractor, as well as some companies, ad'hoc groups and civil society organisations

The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, was also of the view that the government should do well to reduce the fiscal deficit in order to enable ministries, departments and agencies to spend on projects to promote growth.

'We need to start thinking critically about how to improve revenue. In my personal view, we can look at the Value Added Tax (VAT)', Dr Robert Osei, who spoke on behalf of ISSER, said.

ISSER's view on transforming the structure of the economy, focusing on agriculture and agribusiness and manufacturing as strategic decision, was shared by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC).

Bishop Akolgo added that the country should invest in mineral resources in ways that would promote local participation to impact individual lives, spur growth and reduce poverty.

The Trades Union Congress wanted the government to shift focus from inflation targeting, which often sacrificed growth, to employment-targeting, where every national policy should emphasise the number of jobs it creates rather than how it helped to contain inflation.

A deputy Minister of Finance in charge of Economic Strategy, Mr Kwaku Ricketts-Hagan, in a keynote address on behalf of the Finance Minister, Mr Seth Terkper, said the government wanted to ensure efficient, transparent and credible budget.

He said implementation of this year's budget had been challenging with subsidies, higher than budgeted wage bills and potential revenue shortfalls.

Mr Ricketts-Hagan, who is also the National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament for Cape Coast South, said the government had moved swiftly to prescribe solutions which included revenue mobilisation initiatives, some of which had subset clauses, improving spending quality with filed monitoring and efficiency in project implementation, as well as recovery of debts owed the state and state-owned enterprises (SoEs).

By Samuel Doe Ablordeppey/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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