Preliminary fiscal data for January to October, 2016 has revealed that the country’s revenue and expenditure fell below the respective targets for the period resulting in fiscal deficit higher than anticipated, Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance has said.
“We are likely to miss the fiscal deficit target of 5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product by 2 percentage points,” he said.
Addressing a news conference to highlight on the State of the economy from January to October, 2016 in Accra yesterday he said “the higher than fiscal deficit is partly due to weak tax revenue performance as well as uncontrollable factors such as crude oil price and volume shocks including FPSO turret bearing challenges.”
Mr. Terkper however, stated that the country’s short term economic prospects look bright.
He said the economy was seeing a turnaround and was projected to grow above six per cent before the end of the year.
He said the Extended Credit Facility programme under the International Monetary Fund and the Consolidation programme being pursued by government were yielding positive results.
“Ghana is seeing a turn around and all indicators show that the economy is seeing positive growth. The country is not going to see a reversal of the consolidation programme,” he said.
He said the ratings from international rating organisations indicate that government had put in place the right policies “to nurture positive economic growth.
“The country is recording positive growth in the Gross Domestic Product and the fiscal and current account deficit are also plummeting,” he said.
Mr Terkper said in spite of the fiscal consolidation programme, which had run for the past for years, government was investing heavily in the real and social sectors of the economy.
Touching on the country’s debt, Mr Terkper said the country had achieved stability in debt, the first in the past twelve years, though the country’s debt in nominal terms had gone up.
He said the government had outlined a number of programmes to reduce the country debt and mentioned some of the measures as raising long term bonds to finance capital projects in the annual budget.
In addition, Mr Terkper said the government had decided to the country’s loans on projects that could pay for themselves and was pursuing a Interest Rate Hedging regime to absorb the country from interest rate shocks.
Mr Terkper emphasised that Ghana must build strong institutions in order to consolidate the middle income status adding that it was against that background that the government had established the Ghana Exim Bank and the Ghana Infrastructure Fund to reduce the burden on government to raise loans to finance roads and other infrastructural projects.
He also said government had established a Sinking Fund, indicating that $133 billion of the Sinking Fund had been used to buy back the 2007 bond issued by government.
The Finance Minister refuted the allegations that government had depleted the Stabilisation Fund, saying about $250 million was used to support the budget.
Touching on the IMF programme, Mr Terkper said three reviews had been done and the fourth to be done next year.
Per the IMF Board Report, he said the performance under the programme had been satisfactory and progress was being made to address the macroeconomic challenges facing the economy.
On the Oil and Gas sector, he said the country was doing well and the recent power outages had been brought under control, adding that projections done indicate that power supply would outstrip supply in the next three years.
Consequently, Mr Terkper said the government had put a moratorium on the granting of license to Independent Power Producers (IPP) and was currently doing a review on the IPP sector.
“Gas from the TEN project is expected to flow early next year to augment gas supply from Nigeria and that will significantly improve power supply in the country,” he said.
A Deputy Minister of Finance, Casel Ato Forson, who chaired the programme, dismissed allegations that the outgoing government had depleted the state coffers.
He said outgoing government was leaving behind a strong revenue base for the incoming government, stressing the outgoing government was leaving a Sinking Fund of more than $300 million.
By Kingsley Asare