There is no doubt that the economy of Ghana faces a number of serious challenges for which reason bold initiatives will have to be put in place to address the pressing economic problems. It is clear from our general observation that standard of living is not as good as one would expect it to be.
On the basis of this, it has become clear that any budget which seeks to address the nation ought to be well thought through so as to be able to achieve its purpose.
One major challenge facing the nation is considerable debt overhung. To make matters worse, there are also rising interest payments caused by excessive borrowing.
These economic obstacles have made it very difficult for the economy to turn around and meet the aspirations of the people.
It was therefore necessary for the Minister of Finance to outline the challenges facing the nation, so as to let everyone appreciate the difficult times we are going through.
During the presentation of the budget, the finance minister made it clear that there are expenditure overruns and accumulated arrears caused by fiscal indiscipline, excessive sole sourcing and weak commitment controls. To be able to overcome these challenges, we need to adhere to strict financial discipline.
Again, there is the need to ensure that commitment controls are made very strong, so as to prevent unwarranted leakages. In the same way, excessive sole sourcing is also a problem that must be dealt with.
All these challenges have been addressed in the budget and that explains why many people see it as a budget of hope. This budget will not solve all the problems overnight but will require consistent implementation on the part of policy makers to ensure that the purpose outlined in the budget is achieved.
Once the required issues are addressed, the slowdown in economic growth will be reversed and made to grow at a faster rate than in previous times. A major obstacle facing the economy, as mentioned by the finance minister is the challenge posed by energy. The energy problem is to be fixed to ensure that the productive potentials in the various sectors of the economy are all addressed as expected.
Another significant issue mentioned by the finance minister, is the limited capital investment, among others, which have come about due to rigidities from earmarking of revenues that severely limits the fiscal space and undermines the prioritisation of government policies.
In view of these challenges, it was the aim of the 2017 budget to put a stop to increasing debt and rising interest payments. Additionally, arrears caused by fiscal indiscipline are to be addressed by strong financial controls. Another area needed to be addressed is efficient performance of activities aimed at bringing in the needed revenue.
Last but not the least, the budget as announced, sought to address rapid economic growth and ultimately bring improvements into the standard of living of Ghanaians.
During the presentation of the budget, the usual politics as seen in Parliament characterised the behaviour of Members of Parliament. What was interesting was that, even though the budget sought to sanitise the economy and effect growth, the minority in parliament condemned it. This kind of politics must give way to a more constructive exchange of healthy ideas that will compete with each other to ensure that at the end of the day the best option is what guides the country in its attempt to provide better economic conditions for everyone.
It is our view that economic matters ought to be taken more seriously than is being done so that only the best can be laid down for this country.