Ghana 2018 Budget To Ensure Shared Growth
Ghana's Budget for the 2018 Fiscal Year, on the theme: 'Putting Ghana Back to Work,' is set to translate the macroeconomic stability achieved in the last fiscal year in shared growth by energising the private sector and spurring entrepreneurship.
Mr Ken Ofori Atta, the Minister of Finance, who presented the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy to Parliament on Wednesday, said the broad agenda for next year was to translate the macroeconomic stability achieved in 2017 into shared growth via aggressive policies aimed at creating more opportunities for jobs.
'This theme reflects the tools provided in the 2018 Budget to energise the entrepreneurial spirit within every Ghanaian. The job of the Akufo-Addo Government is to assist the people with the tools and the environment to go out there to work and earn a decent living and improve their lives. We plan on providing opportunity for as many Ghanaians as possible to initiate projects on their own,' he said.
He said government had, in 2017, improved the macroeconomic environment, thus protecting the value of money in the pockets of ordinary Ghanaians and giving businesses the predictability space to plan and invest, thereby sowing the seeds for economic growth and jobs creation.
He noted that government was determined to reverse the trend of the past few years where businesses operated mainly to service loans, pay taxes and electricity bills.
Real Gross Domestic Products (GDP) grew to 7.8 per cent in the first half of 2017, against 2.7 per cent in 2016 while inflation reduced to 11.6 per cent at end-October from 15.4 per cent end-December 2016.
The cedi also maintained stability against the US dollar and policy rate went down to 21 percent from a peak of 26 percent in 2016.
Ghana's external balances also improved, driven by higher export earnings and lower imports. Gross international reserves grew to 7.2 billion dollars, equivalent to 4.1 months of imports cover, primary balance increased to 0.3 per cent surplus in September 2017 compared to a deficit of 1.6 per cent in September 2016, leading to positive sovereign rating reviews from international ratings agencies: Fitch, B/stable; Standard & Poor, B-/positive.
'In line with this, for 2018, we will continue to stabilise the economy and offer reliefs including reducing electricity tariffs to make the private sector truly competitive and create more employment,' he said.
The budget's agenda for job creation will be driven by investments in Human Capital, Strategic Infrastructure, Agriculture and Agribusiness, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programmes.
It would also focus on key policy initiatives and flagship projects including Planting for Food and Jobs, Stimulus Package for distressed industries, One District One Factory, Zongo Development Fund, National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme, Free SHS, National Identification Scheme, and National School Feeding Programme.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the policy priorities for 2018 and beyond were hinged on ensuring opportunity and prosperity, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of sustainable transformational agenda.
'For us the fight against poverty and unemployment is not optional. It is a national security issue. We intend to pursue this goal of building a society of equal opportunity responsibly, by protecting our natural endowments and, at the same time, adding value to the exploitation of these rich resources under our custody,' he stated.
Mr Ofori-Atta reiterated the need for urgency in creating an enterprise culture among Ghanaians in order to transform the newfound stability into a productive, industrialised, dynamic, open and responsible market.
'…a society that eschews poverty of aspirations and with deliberateness celebrates, prepares and challenges the youth to discover and achieve their full potential. Mr. Speaker, the President seeks to do this in this Budget,' he said.
By Belinda Ayamgha, GNA