Accra, Nov. 16, GNA - Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on Tuesday painted a steady growth of Ghana's economy, saying its favourable international appraisal is "a strong performer in carrying out macroeconomic reforms not only in Africa, but among the developing world."
Citing the Global Competitiveness Report for 2005-2006, Dr Akoto said Ghana ranked 59th in 2005, showing a significant improvement over the rankings of 68th and 71st achieved in 2003 and 2004 respectively. "It was noted that Ghana showed significant improvements in the rankings out of the 117 economies that were assessed."
The Deputy Minister was delivering a paper on the "Current State of Ghana's Economy," as part of the 46th Founders Week celebration of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra.
The broad theme for the celebration, running from November 14 to November 18, is, "From Stability to Growth: Challenges of National Development."
Dr Akoto observed that the rankings placed only three sub-Saharan African countries - South Africa (42nd), Botswana (48th) and Mauritius (52nd) - above Ghana and pointed out that this strong performance stemmed in part from a strong macro-economic policy framework. The policy framework was to enhance revenue, have greater expenditure control and full cost recovery in the utilities sectors to shield the budget from heavy burden of subsidy granted to some public sector organisations.
Dr Akoto said Ghana's economy was characterised by reduced pressure from foreign currency obligations as a result of reduced external debt. He said from an annual average payment of 392 million dollars in 1998 to 2000, "our external debt service payments have significantly declined to an average of 149 million dollars per annum from 2001 to 2005."
These were generating significant savings, which had had positive impact on the balance of payments, he said.
Dr Akoto gave the assurance that Government would support the Bank of Ghana to implement policies to lower inflation to single digit by the end of 2006.
He said financial sector policy would focus on the exchange payments system to give clarity to existing rules on foreign exchange transactions and provide assurance that the economy would be open for capital flows.
Dr Akoto expressed concern at excesses in public expenditure and asked his colleagues to prioritise the needs of their ministries. He conceded that waste came in the form of funds for allowances, workshops and seminars, saying, the "biggest item there is refreshments."
Dr Akoto debunked allegations of overspending by Ministers and said in most cases they were rather receiving a single pay for double work done.
He called on Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and revenue collecting agencies to be innovative in their operations to make savings and enhance revenue collection.
Dr Akoto said the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, for instance, could strengthen its property tax collection as a vast base of revenue to improve sanitation in the Metropolis.
Mr. Kwame Pianim, an economist and investment consultant, in a paper subtitled "The Economy: Strategies for Growth" said Ghana needed to minimise leakage of resources abroad, develop its ports, railway and telecommunications and other infrastructure for growth to signal its readiness for business in the highly competitive global marketplace. He called for the creation of a policy space for the nation's development efforts while keeping in view its international obligations under the Millennium Development Goals and the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy.
"We should co-opt and own these tools as our own and make them reflect our national aspirations," Mr. Pianim said.