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Business News of Thursday, 14 May 2020

Source: Business 24

Coronavirus: Finance Minister preparing Resilience and Recovery Plan

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has been tasked by the President to formulate a resilience and recovery plan to shore up the economy, as the country continues its battle against the coronavirus pandemic and its wide-ranging socio-economic impacts.

Addressing the media at the bi-weekly coronavirus press briefing in Accra on Tuesday, the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, stated that the decision to prepare a recovery plan was one of the main outcomes of the cabinet retreat that took place last weekend.

The resilience and recovery plan will cover all the broad sectors of the economy, including priority areas such as health, roads, education, food and agriculture, industry, and security.

It will augment support already provided to cushion the effects of the pandemic on people’s living standards and businesses’ performance.

According to Oppong Nkrumah, the plan, when ready, will be approved by cabinet and then forwarded to parliament for its own scrutiny and approval.

The coronavirus outbreak and its fallout have opened a budget financing gap of GH¢11.4bn that needs to be closed.

The effects of the pandemic will result in significant shortfalls in petroleum receipts, shortfalls in import duties, shortfalls in other tax revenues, increased health-related expenditures, and tight financing conditions.

The financing gap includes the cost of revenue losses and additional COVID-19-related public spending, which together is pegged at GH¢9.5bn (2.5 percent of revised GDP).

Meanwhile, the economy’s growth rate, which surpassed 6 percent in each of the last three years and was initially projected at 6.8 percent for 2020, could fall to a record low of 1.5 percent.

It is in this regard that the Finance Minister reckons more resources need to be explored to ensure the country battles the virus head-on.

“We will certainly have a steep decline, and for two or three years we expect a sloping curve downwards before a gradual recovery—and we must get ourselves ready for that,” he told lawmakers before their recent adjournment.

Ghana has already accessed a US$1bn rapid credit facility (RCF) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support the country’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.

Ken Ofori-Atta is having probably his busiest and most challenging year in the job.

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