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Business News of Monday, 23 February 2009

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National debt stands at $7bn

President John Evans Atta Mills, has said his government inherited an overall national debt of more than $7 billion from the Kufuor administration. He said both the Tema Oil Refinery and Volta River Authority owe close to $2.6billion.

In his maiden State of the Nation address, he said the country’s economy sounds very unpleasant but looks promising in the future. He said over the last month his economic team has been vigorously and painstakingly reviewing the situation of the economy.

Giving highlights of the economy, he said the fiscal deposits meaning the expense of expenditure over revenue are in the region of GH¢2.5 billion representing 15.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “The external deficit of balance of payment estimates at 3.42 billion Ghana Cedis or 18 percent GDP, and the rate of inflation has accelerated from 12.7 percent at the end of 2007 to 18.1 percent at the end of 2008,” he said.

He said the Cedis being the country currency has lost value over the past few months because they are unable to show it up and that are a reflection of extensive over spending since 2006 and the trade in balances over the period.

According to the President he has assumed office at the time when there are heighten anxiety and insecurity on the global economy. He said: “The world has changed radically and we can no longer rely on the generosity and largess on the donor communities as we have done in the past”.

The President said there would be drastic reduction in official protocol budget in order to revisit the exemption system, and take steps to reinvigorate revenue collection agencies, negotiate the single span wages and salaries.

The President said they would review the decision to purchase two presidential aircrafts.