Business News of Saturday, 23 June 2012
Source: Daily Graphic
The Vice-President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has assured the international community and development partners that Ghana's economic fundamentals remain strong while the future prospects for accelerated development are bright.
He has, therefore, asked donor partners to work with the government on a home-grown transition plan to realise the country’s goal of becoming a strong middle-income country.
Mr. Mahama was speaking at the 2012 Consultative Group (CG) and Multi-Donor Budget Support (MDBS) annual partnership review meeting, which has since ended in Accra.
The meeting, which began on Monday on the theme : “Leveraging Partnership in a Transitional Middle Income Country for Sustainable Economic Growth & Development”, brought together Ghana’s development partners, civil society and government officials to review progress on the Ghana Share Growth Agenda (GSGA), a three-year development agenda initiated in 2010.
The Vice-President said steady progress had been made on various fronts, including macro-economic management and stability, addressing poverty and regional inequality, refocusing on health and ensuring equity in education.
Besides, he said, the government was accelerating agricultural productivity through rapid modernisation while making efforts to expand the energy sector.
Mr. Mahama said the trajectory towards middle-income status was becoming clear, with more prudent use and leveraging of oil and other revenues to promote and plan development in a more organised manner.
“Unlike the past, we are improving the linkage between longer-term plans such as the GSGA and definite sources of funding for robust infrastructure and social investments,” he said.
The Vice-President said the government was expanding existing social opportunity interventions and introducing new ones to reduce poverty among the vulnerable and poor lower classes.
For instance, he said, the School Feeding Programme had been retargeted to cover one million children in deprived schools, while the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) was being converted into a skills development programme.
He indicated that the World Bank had decided to give a $40-million loan to the NYEP for skills enhancement.
Additionally, Mahama said, the Metro Mass Transit had seen 100 per cent expansion, more than 1,300 schools constructed to get rid of schools under trees, while the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme was being expanded from about 2,000 households to cover 60,000 households and the monthly stipends increased from GH¢12 to GH¢36.
“These initiatives are generating a positive impact on the lives of many Ghanaians and the government will continue to explore other means to accelerate poverty reduction,” he said.
The Vice-President reiterated the government’s commitment to funding all development projects appropriately to avoid the phenomenon of uncompleted roads, bridges and buildings that had disrupted productivity and become the bane of sound budgetary control.
He said the country’s internal debt recovery policy for commercial projects would allow the government to channel future dwindling grants and non-concessionary loans into social infrastructure.
The Vice-President gave the assurance that the government would not make any unplanned expenditures this year as had been the practice in past election years.
Consequently, he said, President John Evans Atta Mills had directed ministers and heads of departments and agencies not to begin any new projects not captured in this year’s budget.
Again, the government had demanded commencement certificates from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning before any projects were started, he said.
“We [the government] understand the political costs of these decisions, but must take them for the economic health of our country. The cost of correction and adjustment after election years has been disruptive of the economy and also burdensome to most Ghanaians,” he said.
Mr. Mahama gave the assurance that the government would implement the revamped investment and funding policy, and indicated that it would start off with the China Development Bank loan.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth had picked up strongly, reaching a provisional rate of 14.4 per cent in 2011, making Ghana the fastest growing economy in the world.
He said the fiscal deficit had been reduced from 8.5 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 4.0 per cent of GDP in 2011 on cash basis, the exchange rate stabilised for most part of 2010 and 2011 and inflation reduced to single digit levels in the last 24 months.
The Ambassador of Switzerland to Ghana, Mr Andrea Semadeni, who spoke on behalf of development partners, said Ghana’s vision of becoming a regional economic hub had “real prospects to materialise due to the country’s sustained political stability and the enactment of important laws.
He gave promised that the development partners would continue to support Ghana to grow her economy, improve infrastructure and improve the living standards of the people.
A communiqué issued after the meeting called on the government to invest more in poverty reduction initiatives and increase domestic resource mobilisation in a bid to meet the country’s widening infrastructural deficit.
The communiqué will, among other things, serve as a guideline towards the continuous implementation of the programme in the coming years.**