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Will there be hope in Akufo-Addo’s maiden budget?

President Akufo Addo Inauguration President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Thu, 2 Mar 2017 Source: kasapafmonline.com

By: kasapafmonline.com

This morning, the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Attah, will present to Parliament, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s maiden budget.

Expectations are very high looking at the numerous ambitious programmes the President while in opposition as flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised Ghanaians during the 2016 electioneering campaign.

Just to remind ourselves of some of the programmes, Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP promised to initiate the one-dam-one-village project to help revive Ghana’s ailing agricultural sector so that the country will become self sufficient in food production and to export the surplus to other countries for foreign exchange.

There was also the promise of one million US dollars for each constituency to facilitate growth at that the local level. The concept about this ambitious project is to curb rural-urban migration which has become a headache for successive governments.

The Zongo Development Fund also comes to mind as one of the social contracts our President while in opposition with the NPP signed with Ghanaians.

Allowances to nursing and teacher trainees which was scrapped off during the era of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was also promised to be restored when the NPP is giving the mandate by the good people of Ghana to manage the economy on their behalf.

For three consecutive electioneering campaigns (2008, 2012 and 2016), the NPP trumpeted fees-free SHS as one of their flagship projects to be implemented when giving the nod to govern Ghana. This pro-poor intervention program is to help alleviate the sufferings of Ghanaians, many of whom are not able to afford the continuously increasing school fees.

The promise of the reduction of taxes (Corporate taxes, import duties among others) to support industries and SMEs is also still fresh in our minds. In the same vein, the removal of some levies, especially, on utility tariffs are not forgotten.

Property addressing system and the issuance of a National Identification Card are also some of the initiatives that easily come to mind as part of the numerous promises by the NPP while in opposition.

There was also the promise to increase the allowance to National Service Personnel (NSP). In fact just some few days for the NDC to exit power, the NDC took the bull by the horn to increase allowance to NSP. The astronomic increase received some bashing from the new administration. It therefore remains to be seen how the 2017 budget will address this issue.

There comes also the promise for the creation of jobs to reduce the increasingly unemployment situation which has become a threat to national security.

Much as these promises were made on the campaign platform, Ghanaians are wide awake to see how the new administration will situate them (promises) to the 2017 budget which happens to be the maiden economic and financial policy of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The expectations of Ghanaians are very high because the NPP never told them where they will get the funds to finance these programmes which contributed to bringing them to power.

While the issue of funding has become so critical, it is instructive to know whether the budget will be specific on the need for us to go for new loans.

Is there going to be another entry into the Eurobond market to raise some capital to finance some of the ambitious projects promised by the President during the electioneering campaign?

Will COCOBOD again go for syndicated loans to purchase cocoa beans during the 2017/2018 crop season?

Ghanaians are also in a hurry to know what the President’s maiden budget will do to the debts of the Volta River Authority (VRA), the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).

Expectations are also high on how the budget will deal with the country’s ever increasing debt portfolio which currently stands at GH?122billion.

Thousands of graduate unemployed youth who hurriedly went to the polling stations across the country to vote out the NDC and bring in the NPP will also be glued to their seats to listen to what the budget will say about employment opportunities in the economy if any.

But above all, what measures have been put in place to stabilize the currency and lower interest rates? This is very critical since the prices of goods and services hugely depend on how strong the Ghanaian Cedi is against the major trading currencies, especially, the US dollar, the Pound Sterling and the Euro.

The issues mentioned above may not be all what Ghanaians are looking up but I am tempted to believe that these are the most critical areas would want the budget to address.

Should that happen, then it means there is a brighter future for Ghanaians and the hope that many are looking forward to in this new administration will become a reality.

If not, there will be a renewed spirit of anxiety and this administration will never get the peace to do its work until they are booted out of power.

Columnist: kasapafmonline.com
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