Government will continue to ensure fiscal discipline even in the election year to ensure that the country’s economic fundamentals did not slip back to uncontrollable levels, Minister for Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has assured.
Addressing participants at the maiden Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Budget Forum, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said government was taking the necessary steps to avoid a return to fiscal mismanagement.
“It is in this direction that government is working to pass a Fiscal Responsibility Act and institute a Fiscal Council to hold government spending in check so that the gains so far made are preserved,” he said.
The Minister said government would also adopt expenditure control mechanisms with emphasis on efficiency in project management and a focus on outcomes.
There is also the plan to peg the fiscal deficit at about five per cent.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the focus of government was to concentrate on growth in the non-oil sector through programmes such as Planting for Food and Jobs to create jobs and reduce reliance on imported foods.
“We have made a very good milestone and we are making progress,” he said.
Touching on the private sector, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the ongoing reforms in the banking sector would lead to a pickup in lending to businesses in the coming years.
“We are beginning to see that as we correct errors in the banking and the financial services sector, credit to the private sector is going to pick up again – and it is going to be more sustainable with the necessary credit risk levels adhered to. That gives a lot of hope to the young people who are hoping to get credit to also further their business needs,” he said.
“As we deal with the macro side by bringing down things like inflation and interest rates, the banks know that they cannot make so much money from Treasury bills and they have to lend some more money to young people; and so, they can also have the opportunity to get some more credit and do some business in that space.”
The Minister encouraged entrepreneurs to take advantage of government intervention programmes to enhance their capacity and get access to funding.
Mr Jojo Bannerman, the Head of Financial Market Sales at Standard Chartered Bank, said the Bank had been a very good partner of Ghana over 120 years, supporting the people and the economy.
“We believe that as future leaders you have significant contributions, which can positively impact the nation’s budget and discourse, and that is why we have decided to partner with you to engage on the country’s budget. All of us must be interested in the budget because it impacts us in one way or another,” he added.
The maiden budget forum was in partnership with the University of Ghana Economic Society.