The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta on Thursday presented the 2017 budget statement to Parliament with the assurance of building a business-friendly and people-centred economy, which would transmit into job creation and prosperity for Ghanaians.
He said the Government would strike the right balance between consolidation and growth by making credible policy choices that would create the fiscal space and growth enhancing initiatives.
Presenting the maiden financial statement of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led government on the floor of Parliament, Mr Ofor-Atta said the nation had high expectations of the Government.
Therefore, he said, it would work tirelessly to send Ghana beyond aid and put the country on the right pedestal to realise its birth-right as the shining star of Africa.
‘‘We shall protect the public purse by guaranteeing value for money in all public transactions, exercising prudence and discipline in fiscal management to deliver on the aspirations of the Ghanaian people,’’ he stated.
The Finance Minister said it would not tolerate wastage in public spending and ensure strict enforcement of all public laws and regulations for effective debt management to ensure debt sustainability and accountability of the State resources.
He said the Government inherited a very challenging economy encapsulated in high government borrowing, high debt stock and rising interest payment and expenditure overruns.
Other fiscal challenges included accumulated arrears caused by excessive sole-sourcing, inflated costs of projects, lack of fiscal policies and weak commitment to controls, revenue under performance caused by revenue loopholes and tax exemptions, slowdown in economic growth caused by energy challenges and lack of enabling environment for the private sector, which severely limited fiscal space and undermined the prioritisation of all government policies
He said, in spite of these herculean challenges, the Government’s budget would provide a clear road map in moving the country to a fully-fledged middle income economy and clear policy direction, actions and strategies of the President’s vision of hope, job creation and wealth creation as well as a robust economy that would support a thriving private sector.
In this regard, he said, the Government would work towards avoiding high expenditure overruns and corruption, high wage bills, low revenue collection, rigidity of fiscal structure caused by high earmarking of tax revenue and high debt service payments.
He gave the assurance that the Government would collaborate with the workforce to build a shared partnership to enhance training and improve productivity.
He expressed optimism that the Government would fix macro-economic fundamentals and, therefore, called for the support of all Ghanaians in turning the economic fortunes of the country for the better.
In spite of intermittent heckling by members of the Minority side, Mr Ofori-Atta presented the financial statement of the Government though at point the Speaker threatened to suspend sitting if the disruption continued.
Mr Ofori-Atta thanked the House for approving his nomination as the Minister of Finance and assured that he would work with the Legislature with candour and respect in realising the government’s vision.