Accra, Feb. 4, GNA - Ghana's revenue mobilization has more than quadrupled from 4.4 trillion cedis in 2000 to 17.4 trillion cedis today, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, outgoing Finance and Economic Planning Minister announced on Friday.
"This performance has enabled Ghana to meet three out of the four convergence zone criteria for the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ)," Mr Osafo-Maafo said when he officially bade farewell at the a durbar organized on Friday by the Ministry.
Recounting his performance, Mr Osafo-Maafo, now Education and Sports Minister, identified macroeconomic stability and attaining HIPC completion point as the major highlights of his achievements. "For the first time since the country was returned to constitutional rule, the macroeconomic framework remained intact, indeed, improved during the election year," the Minister said.
He said for the first time in the history of the country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate had consistently increased from 3.7 per cent in 2000 to 5.8 at the end of December 2004. "This is as against a projected 5.2 per cent", he added.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said international reserves had improved remarkably from 233 million dollars in 2000, which could cover only three weeks of import to about 1.7 billion dollars, nearly four months import cover. "Inflation is down from a high of 40 per cent at the end of 2000 to 11.8 per cent today. Interest rates, which were 50 per cent have reduced and are about 29 per cent on the average and are still falling." Mr Osafo-Maafo said the deprecation of the cedi to the dollar for 2004 was 2.2 per cent, representing the lowest ever since the exchange rate was liberalized.
According to him the image of Ghana had improved considerably, which was confirmed by the country's B+ rating by the Standard and Poor, a renowned Credit Rating company.
Over the past four years, he said, the country had carried extensive review and had passed 94 laws, aimed at strengthening public financial management.
He said the large inflow of external resources into the economy to support development projects were made possible through improvements in disbursement procedures and the Multi-Donor Budgetary Support framework. He said the Finance Ministry's large good pool of skilled staff contributed immensely to the achievements and expressed the hope that they would give more of that support to the new Minister.
Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the new Minister of Finance, announced that negotiations were ongoing for the German and French governments to write off Ghana's debts.
He said the implementation of the 2005 budget would be a major task ahead of the Ministry and urged all departments and agencies of the Ministry to work to realise this.
"Let us consider ourselves that we are just going to add value to what others have achieved.
"Everything depends on the vision and values that we have as well as the goals that we set ourselves. Whatever we have achieved should be the basis for higher heights," Mr Baah-Wiredu said.
Mr Osafo-Maafo presented his handing over notes to Mr Baah-Wiredu and wished him the best of luck.
Various departments and agencies of the Ministry presented gifts to Mr Osafo-Maafo.