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Business News Wed, 15 Nov 2017

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2017 gains must be consolidated to guide 2018 budget - Economic Consultant

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The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, will today Wednesday November 15 announce ambitious programmes in the 2018 budget that will seek to consolidate the stability in the economy, lessen the burden of the private sector and set in motion the first phase of the government’s economic transformation agenda.

The minister will do this by targeting a lean fiscal deficit of below five per cent, a growth rate of more than seven per cent and a positive primary balance that can support the “new thinking that the country should not borrow to refinance debt”.

Expectations are high as the country awaits the minister to seek approval to spend some GHC61 billion.

However, Economic Consultant, Patrick Stephenson has said that the 2017 Asempa budget read by the Finance Minister in March this year did not meet up to the numerous campaign promises made by the ruling government.

According to Stephenson, what has transpired since the Akufo-Addo administration came into office is not up to an appreciable level, considering the reforms the New Patriotic Party stipulated to put in place to revive the ill economy.

He is of the view that, although impressive efforts have been made so far by the government, the relapse of private actors and economic stakeholders following their commitment to join force with the state has hampered the budget management and economic management policy.

“…what we have seen since March, we saw minimal recovery in the real sector of the economy is not up to appreciable levels that would have been expected. The implication of that has been a reduction in the government’s ability to mobilise the required domestic revenue it needs to finance its usual expenditure that typically we would expect and so that equally hasn’t happened to appreciable levels that the government would have thought about,” he said.

Commenting on his expectations of the much anticipated budget reading, Patrick Stephenson commended the NPP for stabilising the economy, while juxtaposing it with the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama administration.

“Fast-forward 2018, we would expect a certain consolidation of the gains because as we speak the micro-economy appears to have stabilized a bit, if you look at prices of goods and services it appears to be moderating downwards because we haven’t seen fluctuations like we saw before in the energy basket component”.

“…again we have seen some moderation in the rate at which the currency has depreciated. Over the last four years we had an average depreciation that was a little over 11 percent, now we are doing something between 2 and 3 percent and that in itself is not too bad. And we would expect that these gains will consolidated so they speak to the sort of strategies that the government is going to put together in the coming budget which is the budget for 2018,” Stephenson noted.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

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