In an unprecedented move in the history of the country's economic management, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has proposed to present the 2006 budget statement to parliament in the last week of November this year.
It is the hope of the MOF that if the proposed objective is realized, parliament would subsequently get next year's budget passed before December 25, 2005.
This intended significant innovation in the economic management of the nation's economy was announced by the sector minister, Hon. Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, at the launch of the 2005 manual on economic reporting in Accra yesterday.
The move, which is in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 constitution, will be, as pointed out by the minister, "another achievement in our efforts at improving economic governance in the country."
The minister further pointed out that to ensure that the government stayed within its approved budget, he instituted a periodic cabinet review on the implementation of the 2005 budget. The first of these review meetings was held in April while others had been billed July 23 and October 22.
Touching on other core sectors of the economy, the minister expressed worry over the recent hikes in the prices of crude oil which he said was currently hovering around $60 a barrel.
He observed that at the time of preparing last year's budget, the experts forecasting on the world economic outlook estimated a scenario averaging about $42 per barrel for 2005.
"You will appreciate that with the current prices hovering around $60 per barrel, it is a nightmare being at the helm of managing the economy. It is being projected that at this current price, we will need about $500 million additional resources to manage our crude oil imports bills," Baah Wiredu lamented.
The current price hike in world crude prices according to the minister, would therefore affect the country's foreign exchange reserves as the oil marketing companies and Tema Oil Refinery will require more foreign exchange cover to bring in the needed imports.
Hon. Baah Wiredu noted, in relation to the recent proposal by the G-8 Ministers of Finance to provide relief on multilateral debt owed to the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank, that the total relief for the country would only be known during and after the G-8 summit in Scotland and Washington D.C. this summer.
He however, said no matter the quantum of the relief, the nation stands to gain a lot from the offer.