Unlike previous instances where his Ministry requested for a supplementary budget to run the affairs of the country, the Minister of Finance says the Akufo-Addo government will stay within the 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented in March this year.
Ken Ofori-Atta speaking during the presentation of the Mid-Year Budget Review in Parliament on Thursday, also assured that more taxes will not be introduced to generate more revenue.
“Speaker, this Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review that I am presenting does not come with a supplementary budget, and our revised fiscal framework for 2021 is kept within the fiscal target of 9.5 per cent of GDP. Therefore, we are staying within the 2021 Appropriation,” he said.
Mr Ofori-Atta explained that the move is possible due to various interventions to get the country’s economy back on track amidst the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to him, leadership took some responsible, innovative, decisive and bold action to tackle the crisis.
“That is why, a year ago, on Thursday, July 23, 2020, I came before this House to present what I called “an extraordinary Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy”, and secured more funds to provide an immediate and appropriate response to the severe economic impact of the pandemic.
“In addition, the 2021 Expenditure-in-Advance-of-Appropriation presented to this House on October 28, 2020, saw to the uninterrupted delivery of Government business in the first quarter of this year; and, the on-going implementation of the 2021 Budget and Economic Policy of Friday, 12th March, is driving the revitalising the economy in line with our theme of Completion, Consolidation and Continuity.
“With these approvals, we intervened with timely measures to help, particularly, households, schools, hospitals and businesses withstand the impact of the pandemic,” he explained.
Again, the Finance Minister touted the country’s transformational agenda, which he said was still on course. He noted that the exchange rate, inflation rate and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) have been stable amidst the pandemic.
“The cedi has been relatively stable in the past four years and maintained its stability even in this pandemic year. For the first time in the Fourth Republic, the exchange rate did not see a spike after an election year.
“Cumulatively, from the beginning of the year to date, the exchange rate has depreciated by 0.6 per cent against the US Dollar and appreciating by 3.6 per cent against the Euro. This stability is expected to continue as we move towards the close of the year,” he added.
Touching on job creation, Mr Ofori-Atta stressed that government has put in place measures to create some one million jobs as part of a three-year strategy to address youth unemployment in the country.
The Minister told the House that initiatives like the ¢100 billion Ghana CARES ‘Obaatanpa’ revitalization programme will help address the unemployment menace, among others.
“I have had extensive discussions with my colleague Ministers of Employment and Labor Relations, Youth & Sports and Lands & Natural Resources. These conversations culminated in a comprehensive strategy to sustainably address youth unemployment. New programmes will be introduced and existing ones scaled-up and refocused to meet the aspirations of our youth.
“We will work together to sensitize and connect the youth to the numerous opportunities being made available by Government programmes, including a 3-year strategy to create job opportunities for 1 million Ghanaian youth. There are currently about 5 ongoing programmes through which we intend to create these jobs,” he said.