The Ministry of Finance has engaged a number of stakeholders to solicit their inputs into the 2020 budget statement and economic policy of government to be presented to Parliament in November 2019.
The stakeholders engaged included Imani Ghana, Makola Traders Union, Federation of Association of Ghana Exporters, Project Management Institute, Ghana Chapter, Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Oxfam Ghana, Send Ghana, Peasant Farmers Association Of Ghana, University of Ghana, Dome New Market Women Association, Project Management Institute and Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana who all presented their inputs, according to a statement by the Finance Ministry.
This annual engagement with a number of institutions and associations will ultimately help shape policies and programmes of government. It also provided an opportunity for people who could not submit written inputs to do so, the statement added.
Abena Osei Asare, a Deputy Minister for Finance in Charge of Budget who spoke on behalf of the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, noted that it was a constitutional requirement for the Ministry of Finance to solicit opinions of citizens before the budget is finally presented.
The Minister gave a brief overview of the economy noting that inflation had dropped to single digit, interest rates continue to drop, the fiscal deficit had reduced to below 5%, the real GDP growth rate was now very robust, debt to GDP ratio was below 60%, the financial sector was going through some restructuring which would bring some positives to the nation.
Mr. Ofori Atta stated that government recognized the role stakeholders play in the development of the nation that was why the Ministry had brought them together to brainstorm to come out with ideas and recommendations on how to move the country forward.
“We hope that this will continue to strengthen the coordination among all the players here and I am confident that in the spirit of open discussing and willing cooperation, we will all make recommendation that will help fashion out good economic policies for the attainment of broader objectives and equal opportunities for all,” the Minister stressed.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Patrick Nomo added that fora of this nature was crucial as it afforded policy makers the opportunity to listen and receive feedback from citizens.
He stated that the Ministry, unlike the previous years had gone beyond the normal stakeholders’ engagement to have broader consultation with other stakeholders whose inputs had been very impactful.
The Budget Division of the Ministry gave a presentation to update participants on actions the Ministry had taken on some inputs that were submitted by stakeholders last year.
There were brief presentations by a number of stakeholders that submitted inputs into the 2020 budget presentation process.
The statement said many of the opinions of the stakeholders engaged centered on increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol commonly referred to us sin tax, increase maternity leave from three months to six months, increase education and publicity on immunization, addition of value to Agriculture exports, decreasing of communication service tax from 9 to 7%.
Others included, provision of adequate training for local contractors so they can match the level of the expatriate, tax map to know those paying and those not paying taxes, how to get churches to invest its huge profits and capitals, there should be concrete strategy to collect tax at the local government levels, there should be Increase in ICT penetration, there should regular monitoring of beneficiaries of tax exemption policies among others.
The forum was attended by Hon. Kwaku Kwarteng and Hon. Abena Osei Asare both Deputy Ministers for Finance, Mr. Patrick Nomo, Chief Director of the Ministry, Mrs Evelyn Arthur, Acting Director of Budget, Ministry of Finance, staff of the Ministry and the Media.