Ghana National Chamber of Commerce commends government for economic gains
As per the available data for 2016 and 2017, there has been an improvement in the macroeconomic environment, specifically, the fiscal deficit reduced from 9.3 per cent at the end of 2016 to 5.9 per cent; Mr Mark Badu-Aboagye, GNCCI Chief Executive Officer said in a statement to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
The statement also acknowledged that inflation has reduced from 15.4 per cent as at the end of 2016 to 11.8 per cent; the gross public debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio reduced from 73.1 per cent as at the end of 2016 to 69.8 per cent.
The GNCCI also noticed the growth rate of GDP, which increased from 3.7 per cent as at the end of 2016 to 8.5 per cent; and interest rates (91-day treasury bills) reduced from 16.4 per cent as at the end of 2016 to 13.3 per cent; while there was a 550-basis point reduction in the monetary policy rate to 20 per cent as at 2017.
The GNCCI statement was based on industry analysis of the 2018 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented to Parliament, last month.
Similarly, there have been reductions in electricity tariffs varying between 17.5 per cent and 30 per cent for various customer classes.
The GNCCI also said some tax reliefs for businesses has contributed to an upsurge in investor confidence in the Ghanaian economy, as witnessed by the over-subscription of the 2018 sovereign bond: the 10-year bond raised $1billion at 7.627 per cent; while the maiden 30-year bond raised $1 billion at 8.627 per cent.
The GNCCI acknowledged however that despite the macroeconomic gains, lending rates remain high and have proven excessively sticky.
“The high lending rate is a major concern for the business community particularly those in domestic production.”
It is the expectation of the Chamber that the introduction of the Ghana Reference Rate in April 2018 will help in bringing down lending rates.
The statement explained that a reduction in the Bank of Ghana prime rate will automatically bring down interest rates of the commercial banks and address the many constraints the commercial banking sector faces, which includes high non-performing loans (NPLs), some of which emanate from government’s inability to pay its contractors.
“These and many other issues must be addressed as part of measures to bring down interest rates,” the statement said.