Staying the course with regard to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and competing with the rest of the world is what the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy is about.
Unfortunately, the propaganda out there is about ‘taxing a nation of poor people,’ the attempts to create a non-existent ‘monster’ out of the Agyapa deal and the ‘huge’ national debt.
Little attention is however being paid to the strength of the cedi, the resilience of the economy, projected growth that still puts Ghana notches ahead of several dozens of global economies and neighbours in our own sub-region and the investor confidence that Ghana continues to attract.
Little attention is also being paid to the very critical expenditures related to that ‘debt’ and how, in only a few years from now, that ‘debt’, because of its productivity nature, could turn into national gains.
Additionally, we – or rather, the opposition National Democratic Congress and its partners – seem to ignore the fact that an ambitious budget such as the one unfolding is what is imperative in taking Ghana perpetually out of the clutches of the negative effects of the pandemic. This is a pandemic whose paralysing effects still gnaw at modest gains of most developed economies, including those which are ahead of Ghana.
After hours of vetting yesterday, the Finance Minister-designate made that point succinctly clear, cautioning that it is not about any Ghanaian entrepreneur or business and businessman, but the capacity and expertise available to be tapped to expand the economy and improve lives and livelihoods among all segments of our national population.
That point had previously been made by the Minister of Trade and Industry, who was defending the 2021 budget. And he had also cited huge opportunities that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA affords serious Ghanaian businesspeople of every area of economic activity who are ready to tap into the initiative.
Trade and partnerships among a population of hundreds of millions in the sub-region and beyond obviously must be encouraged, supported and even funded by serious nations like Ghana, if we want the best for our national economy, its businesspeople and entrepreneurs as well as citizens and informal economy actors.
That this government, under the watch of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his able team, including the Finance Minister, has literally juggled this economy to a level of robustness unparalleled in our history is a fact that even leading members of the opposition NDC admit.
With Ghana having credibility as a viable and vibrant economy, all we need to do, as the Finance Minister-designate insists, is to re-look at all the areas that have attracted cynicism, including the Agyapa deal. And this is why we believe the President meant well when he said he would bring back the deal to Parliament to enable the House peruse and scrutinise it in the supreme interest of Ghanaians.
It is, indeed, every Ghanaian’s prayer that whether it is Free SHS or Agyapa deal or COVID-19 Levy, Parliament has an abiding obligation to assist us as a nation to do enough to compete with the rest of the world.
That is the only way we can hold our heads high up and say, together, that we are getting there, regardless of which government, at any time in our history, is in power.