Time to support govt to realise budget projections

But for the constitutional provision making it imperative for the government to present a budget before the end of the year, one would have wondered if a budget could be presented yesterday, considering the hardship in the country, the call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to axe the Finance Minister, Mr Ofori-Atta, from office and other matters.

In fact, Article 179 of the country’s 1992 Constitution requires that, at least, one month before the end of the financial year, the President must cause to be prepared and presented to Parliament a budget for the following financial year.

Therefore, yesterday, the crestfallen Minister of Finance had to present the 2023 Budget and Economic Policy to Parliament.

The minister in particular and the government in general deserve commendation for meeting the constitutional provision in the midst of all the chaos.

Mr Ofori-Atta yesterday emphasized that the 2023 Budget and Economic Policy was hinged on a seven-point agenda to restore macroeconomic stability and accelerate economic transformation under the Post-COVID-19 Programme for Economic Growth (PC-PEG).

He mentioned the make-up of the agenda to include aggressive domestic revenue mobilisation; streamlining and rationalising expenditures; boosting local productive capacity; and promoting and diversifying exports.

The rest are protecting the poor and the vulnerable; expanding digital and climate-responsive physical infrastructure; implementing structural and public sector reforms.

The details, including a freeze on the hiring of both civil and public servants, reducing e-levy charges from 1.5 per cent to one per cent and cutting by 50 per cent public sector institution imports for inputs or consumption, can be read elsewhere.

It must be noted that all budgets are projections meant to ensure fiscal orderliness but there can be wrecks on the way and these are not projected.

However, the country’s managers must begin now to envisage some of the odds that can overwhelm, particularly the failure to tame the fall of the cedi against the dollar and other trading currencies.

Last year, the 2022 Budget Statement was dubbed ‘Agyenkwa’ Budget and aimed at strengthening the economy in the face of the COVID-19 menace and one of the details was job creation and skills training for the youth to tame the growing unemployment in the country.

Most of the lofty projections in that budget for the benefit of the country this year have been wrecked by a number of factors, chief among them the almighty Russian-Ukraine war and the diarrhoeal fall of the cedi to the dollar and related skyrocketing prices of goods and services that have significantly reduced the people’s purchasing power.

We pray that the government would realise its three critical imperatives for the fruits of the budget to be enjoyed in the coming — successfully negotiating a strong International Monetary (IMF) programme; coordinating an equitable debt operation programme; and attracting significant green investments, which are business practices that have favourable impact on the natural environment. 

We think that the government must not be left alone on the journey to restoring the economy to normalcy to bring some relief and joy to the people.

Every adult citizen and resident should be hardworking and avoid negative practices like corruption, thievery at the workplace, evasion of taxes, refusal to pay tolls like property rate and utility bills, and cheating in pricing of goods and services. 

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