Ghana’s IMF programme should focus on agriculture, revenue mobilisation …Prof. Quartey urges govt

The Enhanced Domestic Programme (EDP) being developed by the government for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme should be focused on agriculture and revenue mobilisation, the Director of Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Professor Peter Quartey, has suggested.

The EDP is a three-year fast-tracked macroeconomic stabilisation programme that seeks to restore investor confidence and achieve fiscal and debt sustainability and will serve as basis for negotiation with the IMF for a fund programme.

Ghana is currently pursuing an IMF programme for Balance of Payment support to attract the fiscal challenges facing the country.

“Any policy we prepare under the IMF programme should focus on agriculture and revenue mobilisation,” he said in an interview after the ISSER 2022 Mid-Year Budget Review last Wednesday.

Prof. Quartey stressed that agriculture was crucial to help address the food problem facing the country, which was occasioned by rising food prices, and enhance food security.

 “Agriculture is key, we may face many food crisis, if we are not careful and don’t tackle agriculture,” he said.

The global economy is currently facing food crisis, as a result of the Russian-Ukraine war and disruptions in global supplies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Against this backdrop, Prof. Quartey stressed the need for government to increase investments on irrigation, seed varieties, agriculture value chain, and credit guarantee for players in the agriculture sector.

That, he said would help the country to solve the food problem arising out of the increasing prices of food, stressing “Food at this time is very critical”.

On revenue, Prof. Quartey said the IMF programme should focus on aggressive domestic revenue mobilisation to shore up government revenue through non-tax revenue.

According to him, government could not continue to rely on tax revenue to raise financial resources to fund the budget and other development programmes, when it could rely on non-tax revenue to do same.

He said government could raise enough revenue from property rates, fees and fines.

Prof. Quartey said the Enhanced Domestic Programme being developed for the IMF programme should focus on coming out with strategies to block the leakages in the tax administration system as well as promoting digitalisation in tax collection.

The Director of ISSER commended the government for the passage of the Tax Exemptions bill into law and called for strict monitoring and evaluation with the sector Ministries and Agencies to ensure the compliance and proper implementation of the law.

He said the country in 2021 granted import exemptions of GH¢4.01 billion and this year the government project to grant GH¢2.388 billion import exemptions.

Touching on the country’s  debt situation, Prof. Quartey said the government should grow the country’s Gross Domestic Product (the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country within a year) to help bring down Ghana’s debt-to-GDP ratio.

He said Ghana presently could not borrow from the International Capital Market because it had hit the threshold.

According to data from Bank of Ghana, the country’s debt as at the end of June 2022 stood at GH¢393.4 billion, representing 78.3 per cent of GDP.

Prof. Quartey suggested that government should focus on multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank, since they had cheaper funds, sometimes below two per cent, compared with the commercial market which borrowed above eight per cent.

“So for me I want to see a strategy, a medium-term debt strategy to gradually reduce our debt to GDP ratio, when our debt is reduced, with macro stability, inflation coming down,  we will become attractive to the international capital market,” the Director of  ISSER said.

BY KINGSLEY ASARE

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