Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has announced that Cabinet has approved Government's Budget for 2019.
The 2019 Budget, he said, would mark the beginning of Ghana's exit from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
Addressing the media yesterday during the Information Ministry's bi-weekly press briefing in Accra, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah said preparations were underway for the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to present the budget to Parliament on November 15, 2018.
He said “the 2019 Budget is designed to bring more relief, hope and improvement in the standard of living of our people.”
He stated that the Finance Minister would demonstrate to Ghanaians how the Akufo-Addo government would maintain the fiscal discipline which has been restored, increase liquidity in the Ghanaian economy, sustain the heightened growth, invest in massive infrastructure without compromising on debt sustainability and expand credit to the benefit of small and medium scale enterprises without the supervision of IMF.
The budget would be the third for the Akufo-Addo administration which assumed office in 2017.
According to the Minister, “the 2019 budget will mark the beginning of Ghana's exit from the IMF programme under which we sought almost $918 million over three years with conditions attached.”
About the IMF Deal It would be recalled that the Executive Board of the IMF approved a loan of $918 million for Ghana under previous John Mahama administration in April 2015 to promote growth and address several challenges.
In August 2017, the Akufo-Addo administration finally agreed to extend the IMF programme to December 2018 after several reports that the programme was not going to be extended.
Asked whether government had been able to do meet the conditions of the IMF, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah explained that the current administration has been able to reduce government spending significantly, thereby reducing the gap between revenue mobilization and spending.
He also pointed out that government has been able to significantly reduce budget deficit from 9 percent in 2016 to about 6.5 percent in 2017, with a target of 4.6 percent in 2018.
According to him, “The administration has in the first two years raced to correct slippages from set targets under the programme, and is hopeful for a successful exit at the end of this year.”
He added that “the improved macro environment is evidenced by the reduced policy rate, reduced inflation, reduced fiscal deficit, improved growth, improved reserves and improved credit ratings.”
Assurance He gave assurance that government would not repeat the mismanagement and incompetence that took the nation to IMF, as it takes steps to promote growth and more job creations.
Social Spending The Minister also stated the administration has also rolled out the biggest social spending programmes in Ghana's recent history.
He said “this includes the Free SHS programme, expanded School Feeding Programme and initiatives such as the Planting for Food and Jobs.”
“We do not claim to have finished solving all of Ghana's problems. But our work in the first two years is a good foundation, which should enable us 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.”
Dan Soko is a short story author and web content editor. He has work appearing or forthcoming in over a dozen venues, including GhanaScoop, Nigeria Daily News and CapitalBay. When he’s not frightening strangers with his post and writing, he’s most likely frightening his wife Mimi and their two mischievous cats: Buttons and Snaps. You can visit him at www.ghananation.com/author/webby.