FINANCE MINISTER, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, told The Chronicle over the weekend that the government was not severing ties with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), following its intention not to go for financial support ($27 million annually) effective with the 2006 Fiscal Budget.
He said rather than benefiting from the $27 million support annually with a string of conditions attached, like not sourcing for loans, the government thought it wise to opt out of the financial support.
He explained that Ghana has been a member of the IMF since 1959, and has always benefited from its advisory and financial support. The former, he said, ranged from monitoring of the country's inflation, exchange and interest rates, as well as revenue generation and expenditure patterns.
Due to its prudent policies, the IMF has now reduced the number of times it examines the government's performance, from the previous monthly routine to just about twice a year.
Hon. Baah-Wiredu pointed out that despite rising world market prices for crude oil, the NPP government's good financial policies have kept inflation and interest rates continually dropping.
Therefore, to ensure that the trend continued, the government would not allow itself to be distracted with debates, but would rather focus on delivering its promises to Ghanaians.
He faulted the NDC that its antecedent, the PNDC, was given US$300 million and US$100million from the IMF for its Budgetary support for 1983 and 1984 respectively, and yet inflation and interest rates spiraled when crude oil prices were low.
He asked Ghanaians to compare the NDC's 2000 Budget projection of 7.0% of economic growth, and the resultant realization of 3.7%, and a 40% rise in inflation, to the NPP's current performance at a growth of 5.8% against a target of 5.2% and just a 14.9% rise in inflation, despite unprecedented soaring crude oil prices.
The Finance Minister disclosed that he has been studying past Budget presentations by previous governments, adding that the first was presented in 1952/53.
He said the 2006 Budget, which The Chronicle gathered is expected to have a GDP of ¢114 trillion as compared with the current ¢96 trillion to be presented in November this year, would be the first outside the financial year under independent Ghana.
The purpose for the early presentation, he pointed out, is to ensure that funds are released early for development programmes.
On the contentious issue of Additional Duty Hour Allowance (ADHA), he explained that monthly overtime payments used to be ¢60 billion, totaling ¢720 billion annually.
This, with time, has risen to ¢70 billion monthly, a situation he described as unsustainable.
The Finance Minister said he would be leaving for Switzerland on Wednesday in pursuance of the debt cancellation by the G8, whose Board would be meeting to discuss the clemency.
Doubling as the MP for Asante Akim North, Baah-Wiredu visited the Konongo Sports Stadium and later Konongo-Odumasi Secondary School (Great KOSS), where he was given a tour by the Headmaster, Mr. Kwame Amo Antwi, to see the extent of work done on the upgrading of that institution.
He expressed satisfaction with work done by some of the contractors. Prompted by this reporter, he disclosed that funds have been released for various ongoing projects in the country and appealed to those handling them to expedite action since any delay frustrates government's intentions.
Amo Antwi suggested that it would be expedient if all ongoing projects under the upgrading of the 31 selected senior secondary schools, were completed before others are begun so as not to have the government's hands tied with demands from across the country.
The minister assured that government would do just that.