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General News of Friday, 30 July 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Five major takeaways from Ofori-Atta's mid-year budget review presentation

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta

•The Minister of Finance says government will in the next three years create over 1 million jobs

•He also disclosed that the National Cathedral will be completed in March 2024

•He made the disclosure during the presentation of the mid-year budget review on Thursday

Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance on Thursday, July 29, appeared before Parliament to deliver the mid-year budget review.

In reading the 41-page budget, Ken Ofori-Atta indicated to Members of Parliament crucially that the budget review was not to request more money or to introduce new taxes.

He said the budget review was to disclose government’s plans to create more jobs for the youth and also create wealth for Ghanaians.

Below are five major things GhanaWeb noted from the budget

Government to create 1 million jobs

Ken Ofori-Atta disclosed that through various interventions and job-creation policies, government is hopeful of reducing the unemployment population in the country by one million between now and 2024.

He said that under the Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) programme, jobs will be created for the country’s teeming youth.

“As has been well-publicized, a few days ago, the Ministry of Finance granted financial clearance to the Ministry of Education and the security services for the recruitment of some 11,800 people to beef up their operations. It does not end there. We will through interventions to be set out in the mid-year budget review announce plans for the creation of some one million more jobs under the Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ project over the course of the next 3 years.

“We are determined to pursue our agenda for job creation in order to give opportunities for our youth to nurture their talents for the development of our country,” he added.

Construction of 88 hospitals to begin in August

In his 8th Coronavirus address, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo promised to construct 88 hospitals within one year.

It has been over a year since that statement was made but the Finance Minister says the construction will begin in August.

He added that the projects have been entrusted in the hands of Ghanaian contractors

“Mr Speaker, on the 26th of April 2020, His Excellency the Presidency as part of his 8th address to the nation on government’s effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic laid down an ambitious plan to tackle Ghana’s health infrastructural deficit and restore the country on the path of achieving economic and social transformation. This transformation project now dubbed Agenda 111 will require the government to construct 101 standard district hospitals, 6 new regional hospitals, 1 regional hospital for the Western region, rehabilitation of Effia Nkwanta hospital…constructing 2 new psychiatric hospitals, construction of a new Accra psychiatric hospital.

“The objective is to use local team which comprises of Ghanaian consultants, managers and construction firms. We have worked tirelessly on Phase 1 and I’m happy to report that pre-contract works have been completed for 88 sites of the district hospitals. Mr Speaker, we expect to commence phase 2 construction three weeks from now from August 17, 2021,” he added.

National COVID Trust Fund received GH¢57.15m

Ofori-Atta said as of June 30, 2021, the fund that was set up to solicit monies for the country to deal with Coronavirus generated GH¢57.15m.

He explained that the donations were made between the period April 2020 and March 2021.

“As of June 30, 2021, the Fund had disbursed an amount of ¢52,501,540.44, for various programs as well as procurement of items,” he said on Thursday while delivering the Mid-year Budget to Parliament.

Replies NDC over debt

Two days ago, the Minority in Parliament held an Economic Dialogue where they detailed what they believe to be the dire situation in which Ghana’s economy finds itself.

Casiel Ato Forson, the former deputy finance minister who addressed the dialogue said Ghana was close to HIPC.

Ken Ofori-Atta did not let it slide and took an opportunity to reply the NDC MPs.

“Notwithstanding our elevated debt levels as a result of COVID-19, our inflation rate is lower than it was in 2016, our interest rates are lower than it were in 2016, our exchange rate is more stable than it was in 2016, our foreign exchange reserves are much higher than they were in 2016 and we did not have to lay off any workers nor cancel teacher trainee and nursing trainee allowances,” he told parliament. “Furthermore, we did not go to the IMF for bailout programmes and neither have we built an interchange for the price of 3. This is because we have managed the economy much better than it was managed up to 2016,” he added.

National Cathedral to be completed in 2024

The National Cathedral was expected to be completed in the first term of the Akufo-Addo administration in fulfillment of a personal promise the president made to God.

But the construction of project is yet to be finalized and now will be completed on Ghana’s birthday in three years to come.

To ensure its completion, the government is appealing to Ghanaians to donate GH¢100 monthly. The state has meanwhile committed.

“Mr. Speaker, work on the National Cathedral is progressing speedily, and following the program of the contractors, and with God helping us, the National Cathedral is expected to be officially commissioned on March 6, 2024. Upon completion, the National Cathedral would provide a sacred space for formal religious activities of State and symbolize the enormous contribution of faith to Nation Building.”

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