Government is fast-tracking the implementation of a $200million Jobs and Skills Programme to significantly enhance job creation in the country.
Minister for Finance Mr Ken Ofori-Atta who announced this at the media briefing yesterday said the intervention is designed to facilitate new and expanded private sector businesses to employ many more people.
“This we believe is a more sustainable way to rebuild this economy instead of expanding Government employment schemes”, he stressed at the event that was intended to address the concerns of the #FixTheCountry campaigners.
Government, Mr Ofori-Atta indicated, is also rolling over eight additional interventions, starting this May, 2021 under the Ghana CARES “Obataanpa” programme.
These interventions are in the Health, Agriculture, Tourism, Trade, Digitization, Science and technology, Housing and financial services sub-sectors.
According to him, by the end of July, government will have a new Development Bank that would provide long-term wholesale financing to the private sector through Commercial banks.
He said at its minimum, “we should ensure social justice and social mobility for most Ghanaians.”
He said in the coming days, government would move swiftly to address some of the issues that the #FixTheCountry campaigners had raised.
The Minister said government was working with the Minister for Water and Sanitation to immediately ensure potable water to areas with felt need, especially in the most urban areas.
“I am working with the Ministers of Roads and Highways, Transport and Interior to address congestion along the major highways,” he said.
Mr Ofori-Atta said government introduced, restored, or enhanced social protection policies to support the vulnerable and address the pertinent issue of joblessness.
These interventions include the Free Senior High School Programme with over 1.2 million enrolments, the Zongo Development Fund Programme, School Feeding Programme with over 3.4 million beneficiaries, LEAP Programme with over 334,084 Households, NABCO with 100,000 beneficiaries, allowances for Teacher Trainees for some 47,135 beneficiaries and allowances for Nursing Trainees with some 50,825 beneficiaries.
He said government was able to preserve jobs in the public sector in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We acknowledge that as a Nation we need to do more to ensure decent incomes for all Ghanaians,” he added.
The Minister said government had implemented several digitalisation programmes to transform the economy, formalise the informal sector, and increase efficiency in public service delivery.
These initiatives include the issuance of over 15 million National ID Cards, the digital addressing system for over seven million homes, mobile money payment interoperability system, the introduction of the paperless port system, automation of driver’s license and vehicle registration, renewal of NHIS registration, land records digitisation with block-chain technology, and automation of passport application.
Mr Ofori-Atta said, “we established two Social Partnership Programmes; one with Organised Labour and the Ghana Employers Association and the other with Faith-based Organisations to provide a platform for a cohesive and trustful relationship between the partners on issues of national development.
He said Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) was working assiduously to attract the likes of Amazon to Ghana to deepen the tech entrepreneurial ecosystem for Ghanaian entrepreneurs.
The Minister said between 2017-2019, the economy grew by 7 per cent on average in response to government’s prudent management of the economy and implementation of government flagship programmes, being one of the highest and sustained growth periods.
“As a result of the prudent policies, the economy continued to remain resilient in 2020, even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Let’s Fix Ghana Together-Ofori-Atta
Mr Ofori-Atta called for a national conversation on the shared burden to renew the social contract of Ghana’s democracy.
According to him, at its minimum, government should ensure social justice and social mobility for most Ghanaians.
“At our best, we should open for all Ghanaians, an economic system under which each citizen shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best in him or her.
“As I always have, I will commit to working to fix those structures that will set Ghana on this path,” he stated.
Ghana needs to do more
Mr Ofori-Atta acknowledged that as a nation, Ghana needs to do more to ensure decent incomes for all Ghanaians.
However, even at these levels, he stated that compensation of public sector employees represents 52.4% of domestic revenue, which is on the high side.
Mr Ofori Atta listed the fiscal impact of COVID-19, cost of financial sector clean up, cost of excess capacity charges paid to Independent Power Producers (IPPs), as well as the impact of the reduction in growth from an average of 7% between 2017 and 2019 to 0.4% in 2020, as being responsible for approximately GH¢52.7 billion of the current public debt stock.
Breakdown of the GH₵¢52.7 billion
The breakdown is fiscal impact of COVID-19 – GH¢25.2 billion, cost of financial sector clean up – GH¢21 billion, cost of excess capacity charges paid to IPPs – GH¢12 billion, and the impact of the reduction in growth from an average of 7% (2017-2019) to 0.4% in 2020.
Public debt stock
According to Mr Ofori-Atta, if these expenditures are excluded and the drop in Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth in 2020 primarily attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic is taken into account, the total stock of debt for 2020 would have been approximately GH¢238.9 billion.
This implies a debt to GDP ratio of 58.7%, which is below the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) threshold of 70%.
Public debt accumulation
Mr Ofori-Atta gave the rate of debt accumulation every four years since 2004 as (2004- 2008) -30%, (2008- 2012)-269%, (2012 -2016)-243% and (2016 and 2020) -137% and this includes the cost of the banking sector clean-up, excess capacity charges and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Finance Minister noted that despite the impact of the pandemic, the rate of growth of the public debt has been lower under Akufo-Addo’s government compared to previous administrations.
GH¢25.2 billion lost to COVID-19
On the fiscal front, he said the impact of the pandemic led to a downward revision of revenues by GH¢13.4 billion (3.5% of GDP) and expenditures by an additional GH¢11.8 billion (3.1% of GDP) with a combined fiscal impact of GH¢25.2 billion (6.5% of GDP).
Mr Ofori Atta said between 2017 and 2019, the economy grew by 7% on average in response to Government’s prudent management and implementation of government flagship programmes, being one of the highest and sustained growth periods.
Economic achievements between 2017 and 2019
As a result, he said Ghana recorded single-digit inflation of 7.9%, reduced fiscal deficits with three consecutive years of primary surpluses, relatively stable exchange rate, significant improvement in the current account with three successive years of trade surpluses and strong foreign exchange reserve buffers covering four months of import cover and relatively low, sustained interest rates of about 13% (Benchmark 91-Day Treasury bill).
As a result of the prudent policies, he said, the economy continued to remain resilient in 2020, even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
7 Interchanges under construction
Mr Ofori Atta stated that government has financed the construction of seven ongoing interchanges across the country, including those at Takoradi, Tamale, Tema, Obetsebi-Lamptey and Pokuase, to ease the traffic and enhance productivity.
Mr Ofori-Atta said he was working with the Minister for Water and Sanitation to immediately ensure potable water to areas with felt need, especially in the most areas.