In presenting the government’s Mid-Year Budget Review yesterday, the Minister of Finance assured that all programmes that will be executed up till the end of the fiscal year will continue to improve lives and livelihoods.
According to the Minister, infrastructure projects under execution will be completed on schedule as government cuts down on spending in various sectors, with a focus on productivity through clearly defined initiatives that enhance social protection and economic stability.
Thankfully, Ghanaians can be assured that the measures for rebound put in place for the year under review, and which were designed to get the country back to a path of debt sustainability and increased growth, have begun yielding some results.
The refreshing bit is that economic growth had recovered from 0.5 percent in 2020 to 5.4 percent in 2021, and the fiscal deficit had declined from 14.7 percent in 2020 to 11.4 percent in 2021.
Aside of that is the fact that government forecasts a growth rate of 3.7 per cent, which is modest under a COVID-19 environment and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Of course, there had been heightened investor concerns that saw credit rating downgrades, and closed access to the international capital markets, resulting in severe pressures on the Cedi, and subsequently triggering high inflation.
Again, these have culminated in high prices for building materials, food, fuel, transport, among others, leaving a debilitating toll on the cost and standard of living of ordinary citizens.
It is interesting to note that, all over the world, the socio-economic challenges have forced governments to develop strategies for mitigating the plight of vulnerable groups and poor population segments.
It is in that regard that government, according to the Finance Minister, will not relent in sustaining its safety net programmes in ensuring that citizens are moderately cushioned against the harsh effects of the global crisis.
This means that initiatives in health and education, including the Free SHS Programme and National Health Insurance Scheme, will be sustained for the benefit of the poor in particular. Indeed, that also means programmes in skills training to enhance opportunities for youth to access jobs should continue to receive the required attention.
Additionally, government has given further commitment in improving food security through provision of inputs on time to ensure that the sector delivers optimally.
More importantly, as the experts have indicated, the way forward for any effective rebound is industrialisation and its inherent benefits of job creation. That is why an initiative like 1D1F should continue to receive all the attention it deserves.
The YouStart programme must also be implemented well, as a fundamental intervention in advancing an entrepreneurial nation to create jobs.
Another feature of the global economic crisis is that it has led to reduced revenues, limiting governments in executing their development and social transformation mandates.
That is reflected in the poor showing of the E-Levy, and proposed revenues failing to hit the treasury to support national development, including government taking on new employees, particularly in the education and health sectors.
We want to encourage government agencies tasked with revenue mobilisation to strive to improve their efforts at maximising revenue generation under these trying times.
It is also the conviction of the Daily Statesman that more effective mechanisms and relevant strategies will be put in place to maximise revenue collection from big businesses and property owners to improve the revenue base.
The simple truth is that, while we may be in dire straits as an emerging economy and nation of largely vulnerable citizens, we cannot postpone structuring of an effective tax system to fund our development programmes.
It is an obligation that government and political actors, for that matter, must strive to tackle in the national interest.