Discussants share views on 2017 budget

Discussants at a post budget seminar have expressed mixed reactions on government’s 2017 budget statement presented by Finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

While some of them expressed the hope that the budget would spur economic growth following the reduction and abolishing of “nuisance” taxes and levies, others held opposing views.

Making a presentation at the 2017 national budget seminar organised by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Kenneth Kwamina Thompson, Chief Executive of Dalex Finance said although, the tax cuts were meant to bring relief to businesses, some of them were unnecessary.

He said ‘kayaye’ (head porters) levy and tax relief on imported drugs did not have any meaningful impact on the private sector.

Mr. Thompson, however, commended the government for the one village- one dam and one district one- factory initiative and said the private sector could take advantage of them and help the government implement the policies.

He said there was the need to diversify the economy and not to rely on only agriculture and services, but investing in products for exports.

He expressed concern at the 3.2 growth projection for the agricultural sector in 2017 budget, adding that the sector recorded 3.6 per cent growth in 2016.

Mr. Thompson reiterated the commitment of the private sector to supporting government realise its vision in using agriculture to drive the industrial transformation agenda.

Contributing to the discussion, Professor Godfred Alufar Bokpin, Head of Department of Finance at the University of Ghana Business School said the challenges facing the economy required sacrifices from all Ghanaians.

He said Ghana’s economy had not changed structurally, pointing to post independence as the genesis of the crisis.

Prof. Bopkin said slump in commodity prices collapsed the economy, and suggested that the economy be liberalised to spur growth.

He said the Cedi could not stabilise against other international currencies because Ghana imported 70 per cent of goods and product from other countries.

Prof. Bokpin said Africa spent 60 billion dollars on food every year, notwithstanding the fact that she owned more than half of the world’s unused fertile land.

He said fiscal indiscipline during elections, particularly the 2012 election excesses contributed to Ghana’s economic turbulence.

Prof. Bokpin commended the government for allocating substantial resources to the agricultural sector and other critical sectors of the economy in the 2017 budget and urged the finance ministry and other implementing agencies to ensure the benefits trickles to ordinary Ghanaians.

Mr. Sampson Akligo, a financial analyst said the government considered the private sector as a critical component of growth and would provide it the enabling environment to thrive.

He said the ministry had introduced reforms to minimise corruption to ensure prudent management of resources.

He said the government had initiated innovative measures to rake in more revenue, while providing the opportunity to the private sector to help create more jobs and generate wealth.

By Malik Sullemana

 

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