2018 budget to be presented on Wednesday

Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance

Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance

FINANCE Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, will on Wednesday be in Parliament to present the 2018 budget statement and economic policy of the government.

The presentation of the budget, the second of the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led government, is in line with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution.

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, presenting the business statement for the week last Friday, urged the legislators to avail themselves for that constitutional exercise on Wednesday.

The budget is expected to go heavy on job creation, industrialisation, agriculture and consolidating the economic gains made after a year in office.

With no new taxes expected for the year ending December 2018, indications are that government may push ahead with some fiscal reforms that could lead to further cuts in tax rates as well as social intervention.

Measures to ensure effective revenue collection are also expected to feature in the statement as government failed to meet its revenue target for the first, second and third quarters of this year.

Speaking at the 38th Annual Technical Conference in Accra, Ken Ofori-Atta said Ghana’s tax to GDP ratio is below what is required for economic development, hence the need to improve tax collection, hinting that improving domestic revenue would be one of the critical areas that the budget will address.

“Currently tax to GDP is about 16 per cent which is much lower in terms of where we are as a nation, which is much lower than it should be, since we should be looking at about 22 to 25 per cent and that poses a challenge.

“We have a situation where about four million people in the formal sector and about 1.1 million in the informal sector are paying taxes of about 3.5 billion,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo, speaking at a durbar of chiefs and people of Ga Mashie at Mantse Agbona on day two of his tour of the Greater Accra Region last week said the budget will give meaning to his government’s industrialisation agenda, which primarily focuses on the creation of jobs.

“The Finance Minister will present the budget to Parliament [on Wednesday] and it will focus on job creation. The Finance Minister is a magician; he finds resources at places you never expect him to find,” Mr Akufo-Addo said.

The Trades Union Congress, meanwhile, wants government to outline practical steps for job creation in the 2018 budget.

The greatest challenge facing the Ghanaian economy, in the view of the TUC, is how to create decent jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.

“We expect the 2018 budget statement to address this challenge in a more practical manner beyond the rhetoric. Stabilisation is necessary but not sufficient to deal with the employment challenge,” the TUC said in a statement.

“There is the need to get the economy on a higher and sustained growth path that creates decent employment. A disaggregation of current growth figures shows that economic growth is driven primarily by oil and gas and mining. These sectors cannot be relied upon to address the employment challenge,” it added.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI        

 

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