Minister presents 2022 budget to Parliament today

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, will today present to Parliament the 2022 budget and economic policy of government.

The exercise is in line with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 21 (3) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, (Act 921).

In line with the constitutional provision, the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, on behalf of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, lay before Parliament, the 2022 budget estimates.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Finance on the 2022 budget yesterday, said the budget would primarily focus on expanding on the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as creating a climate-friendly entrepreneurial state to address unemployment and import substitution.

“Digitalisation of the economy, skills development and entrepreneurship will also feature prominently in the presentation,” the statement said.

The budget would outline measures to boost government revenue and the areas the revenues would be expended.

This is the sixth budget of the government since 2017 and second since the ruling government won power in the 2020 general elections.

Experts and financial think tanks were keenly watching the measures government would initiate to reduce growing public debt and the fiscal deficit in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

While government revenue was plummeting in view of the financial relief being provided to the citizens and businesses to cushion them, its expenditure was growing.

Ahead of the budget some of the think tanks, have called on the government to initiate innovative measures to boost revenue mobilisation.

Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in its expectation of the budget, said the government should take bold and innovative measures to mobilise resources and allocate them judiciously to sustain long-term growth.

It said Ghana had a serious challenge with domestic resource mobilisation as year after year domestic revenue fall short of budget target.

Among others, it proposed a number of actions to scale-up domestic resource mobilisation to support development.

They include addressing illicit financial flows, review of tax exemptions, and eradication of tax fraud.

  A Research Fellow of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, Leslie Dwight-Mensah said 2022 must come with some clear policies to reduce the growing public debt.

Ghana’s public debt currently stands at more than GHC300 billion, closing the fiscal space of government to borrow to address national development.

“The budget must show clear intention and efforts to reduce Ghana’s extremely high debt service burden.  This is the biggest challenge with the national finances at the moment,” he said.

The Research Fellow said without tackling the debt serving burden resolutely, there would be little room for the government to spend sustainably in desired areas of the economy such as infrastructure and job creation.

“This calls for strengthening the fiscal consolidation programme through more robust revenue generation and limiting expenditure growth to reduce borrowing.  The health of the economy depends on this,” he said.

Mr Dwight-Mensah said, “If government gets the debt service costs under control that will ultimately create fiscal space for spending.”

Members of the business community would be keen on additional measures government would introduce to cushion businesses in view of the negative effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on businesses.

Some businesses had collapsed and others are reeling in serious financial challenges in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with Mr Ofori-Atta last week, he said, the 2022 budget would focus on jobs and skills training to help address the growing youth unemployment problem in the country.

He said the budget would also come out with measures to support the private sector to grow.

“Let’s wait in the next 10 days to see measures government will come out with to address challenges facing the citizens and businesses,” Mr Ofori-Atta said a couple of weeks ago.

BY KINGSLEY ASARE

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