The 2019 Budget, to be read on Thursday, November 15, will mark the beginning of Ghana’s exit from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, under which Ghana sought almost $918 million over three years with conditions.
The IMF conditions, among other things, required Ghana to improve domestic resources, control expenditure and reduce the deficit, which also placed a ban on new employment within the public sector.
The 2019 Budget, the third of the Akufo-Addo Administration, would be the first that is not under the supervision of the IMF.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, said Cabinet had already reviewed the 2019 Budget and that preparations were underway for the Finance Ministry to lay it before Parliament next week.
“The 2019 Budget is designed to bring more relief, hope and improvement in the standard of living of our people,’’ he said.
“The Minister of Finance will demonstrate to Ghanaians what, as we exit the IMF programme, the Akufo-Addo Administration intends to do to maintain the Fiscal Discipline, which has been restored; increase liquidity in the Ghanaian economy; and sustain the heightened growth.’’
The Finance Minister would also speak on how the Government intended to invest in massive infrastructure without compromising on debt sustainability as well as expand credit to the benefit of small and medium scale enterprises, Mr Nkrumah said.
He explained that the Administration had, in the first two years, raced to correct slippages from the set targets under the IMF programme and is hopeful for a successful exit at the end of 2018.
He said with the successful exit from the IMF conditionality, coupled with the prudent measures put in place by the Government within the two years, there would be improved macro environment.
This had been “evinced by the reduced policy rate, reduced inflation, reduced fiscal deficit, improved growth, improved reserves and improved credit ratings,” he said.
Mr Nkrumah said with Ghana exiting the IMF conditionality, she would now have more discretionary powers to decide which areas of the economy to spread her finances to the benefit of all Ghanaians.
He, however, gave the assurance that the Government would continue to imbibe prudent means in its finances as it rakes in domestic revenue alongside sourcing longer and cheaper financing options to give the country value for money.
According to the Information Minister, the Government had also rolled out the biggest social spending activities in the country’s recent history, which included the Free Senior High School programme, the Expanded School Feeding Programme and the Planting for Food and Jobs.
“We do not claim we have finished solving all of Ghana’s problems. But our work in the first two years is a good foundation, which should enable us to do more in the coming years to further cushion the Ghanaian and even push him/her towards a more comfortable life in the medium term,’’ he said.
He said Ghanaians should have hope as the gains made would be consolidated while government brought relief in 2019.
In a response to a question on the hike in fuel prices and the proposed increase in the price of sachet water from 20 to 30 pesewas next week, Mr Nkrumah, however, said those were indications that the Government had not finished solving all of Ghana’s problems.
He said what government had done was to reduce the tax on petroleum products from about 40 per cent to 26 per cent, while Ghana’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was also going down.