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Business News of Friday, 28 November 2003

Source: GNA

Ghana To Reach HIPC Completion Point In 2004 -JAK

"We have increased revenue reserve for seven days imports to 3.4 imports" - Kufuor

Akosombo (E/R), Nov. 28, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Friday said his government now had money to cover 3.4 months of imports compared to only seven days of import when he took office in 2001.

He said the Gross Annual International Reserves that stood at only seven days by 2001 had improved tremendously to cover for imports of goods and services of 3.4 months, which translates to 1.012 billion dollars.

President Kufuor was addressing the Fourth Ghana Investors' Advisory Council (GIAC), a small informal advisory group of top executives, meeting at Akosombo.

The President, who gave an overview of the economy, said for the first time in the nation's history revenue targets for this year was exceeded by over 900 billion cedis by the end of September.

He said an overall budget deficit of 2.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was targeted by the end of the year but government succeeded in achieving a deficit of only 0.6 per cent of GDP so far and it was anticipated that it would go down further by the end of the year to indicate that the Government had done better.

President Kufuor, who is the Chairman of the Council, said there had been relative stability in the value of the cedi against all major currencies, while it had depreciated by only 3.5 per cent at the end of September 2003.

He said the base rate of the Central Bank had dropped from 28 per cent to 24 per cent during the year and accordingly the commercial banks had also lowered their lending rates indicating a very good sign for business.

President Kufuor said while for the past two years Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) flows worldwide had been going down, investments into Ghana were going up slowly but steadily, adding that he was optimistic that with the advice and prodding of the Council it would rise further.

On the investment portfolio, he said this year, 108 new investment projects had been recorded by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) with an initial investment capital of 89.9 million dollars as at the end of September compared to 138 projects that brought in a total of 65.3 million dollars in 2002.

President Kufuor announced that Ghana was expected to reach the completion point of the Enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative by the middle of next year.