Business News of 2014-07-11

We are not sitting on our oars - Terkper

Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper, has described as unfortunate, the suggestion that efforts being made to address the present economic hardship are not effective enough.

According to him, although short-to-medium term policies are being implemented to manage the situation, many of the actions being taken currently are likely to produce positive results only in a few years' time.

Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Henry Kofi Wampah on Tuesday called for stronger action from the Ministry of Finance and government to strengthen the country's economic indicators and reverse the downward spiral.

“Fiscal consolidation will require a more aggressive stance in the second half of 2014. Government must continue to enhance revenue measures and rationalise expenditures to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 8.5 percent of GDP for the year,” Mr. Wampah said in his latest monetary policy briefing in Accra.

Explaining the issues on Joy FM's Super Morning Show, Friday, Mr. Terkper said, the current situation was partly the result of the withholding of about $1 billion in grants by development partners since 2012, when the country attained lower middle income status.

The minister also stated that the country "lost almost $400 million in corporate royalty from the mining sector" in 2013 due to the fall in gold prices, coupled with the energy crisis that plagued the country in the greater part of last year and the early part of this year.

"The impression that government has not been explaining the situation of the economy or we have been sitting on our oars, is unfortunate...It is not that nothing is being done about the situation but some of the situations are endemic and we have a multiyear approach to solving them," he explained.

He maintained however, that "the situation is not all dire" as government continues to engage development partners for advise in support of government's own policies aimed at stabilising the economy.

"We are introducing what we call home grown policy...but that does not mean that we are not engaging the IMF for advice," Mr. Terkper said.

Touching on attempts to widen the tax net, the minister stressed: "It is not the intention of government to increase taxes and impose difficulties on people".

Interest rates have gone up substantially because, "we [government] are borrowing in a period of difficulties", he acknowledged.

He pointed out that the loans have been spent largely on construction projects but not on consumables as some seem to suggest.