Ghana gov’t says will change 2015 budget if necessary

Seth Terkper - Finance Minister
Seth Terkper – Finance Minister

Mr Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance, has said his ministry was mindful of the falling crude oil prices on the global market and and was putting together a report on the impact of the reductions to cabinet.

The report, he said, would also contain the necessary adjustments that would have to be made in order to ensure the achievement of Ghana’s fiscal consolidation objectives, adding that they would go back to parliament if necessary.

“If it requires that we make immediate changes, government will not hesitate,” he said at a press briefing on the state of the economy.

Mr Terkper said the reduction in the prize of crude oil would have mixed impact on the economy.

He said his ministry had used a methodology prescribed by the petroleum revenue management act, 2011 (act 815) to estimate the petroleum benchmark revenue for the 2015 budget in order to determine crude oil price and quantity; using price per barrel as $99.376.

However, as at January 15, Brent crude price had fallen by more than 50 percent to $48.80 per barrel.

This, he said, meant that the estimated petroleum benchmark revenue price of $99.376 per barrel might not be achieved, with negative implications for the budget and as well as potential negative implications for the current account and reserves.

He said in analyzing the impact of the reductions, care should be taken not to base the analysis on just one indicator, thus making hasty conclusions.

“A certain balance will help not to overstate the impact on the economy,” he said.

Mr. Terkper said the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were on track and had not been derailed in any way, as speculated by some sections of the media.

He said three rounds of negotiations had so far been held with the Fund since Ghana formally requested for policy and credit support from the IMF in August 2014, two in Ghana and one in Washington.

“Government does have its own policies. There are strong domestic policy underpinnings in the negotiations” he stressed, adding that meeting would be held in the coming weeks to finalise a draft Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) for submission to the IMF Executive board for approval.

Speaking on ongoing negotiations on the 2015 minimum wage and base pay, Mr Terkper said ideally negotiations on this should have been concluded before the reading of the annual budget but added that organized labour, employers and government were working to conclude the negotiations as soon as possible.

He said government, in order to prevent fiscal slippages from the wage bill, had since 2013 been implementing measures aimed at controlling the wage bill and improving payroll management including the introduction of the electronic salary payment voucher (ESPV) system to reduce the incidence of ghost workers on government payroll as well as periodic audits to streamline the payroll.

He said incidence of ghost workers and other payroll problems were not always accounting issues but human resources management problems, thus a human resource management system (HRMS) is being developed to address such issues in the public service and related payroll issues.

A cabinet subcommittee has been set up to oversee the implementation of these measures to improve payroll management.

Source: GNA

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