Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister has insisted Government’s commitment to an integrated infrastructural development programme across the country, from a variety of funding sources, ‘to move goods, food items and people from one location to another.
‘This will create jobs and prosperity and ensure value for money and position Ghana as the transportation, energy and logistics hub in the region,’ he said.
Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta said this on Thursday, when he presented the Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the 2019 Financial Year and the 2018 Annual Report on the Petroleum Funds, in accordance with Section 48 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815), as amended, in Parliament.
The 2019 Budget Statement has the theme: ‘A stronger economy, for jobs and prosperity’.
He gave an indication that Ghana is determined to maintain the economic discipline and competence so that a bailout will not be necessary for the future.
The present IMF bailout, the Minister said became a necessary option in 2014 when the government lost its fiscal discipline and had very little choice, coupled with the constraints it imposed and the numerous critics it received.
Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta added that Government is not proud that there is still hardship in the country but comforted by the fact that it has managed to ease the impact of the hardships that Ghanaians had been resigned to prior to December 7, 2016.
The Finance Minister disclosed Cabinet’s approval for the establishment of a home-based airline to commence operations next year with private sector participation to provide regional and inter-continental services for the efficient movement of people, goods, and services as well as promote tourism.
On access to water under the ‘Water for All’ agenda, urban water systems-Kpong Water Supply Expansion – phase two, Aqua Africa Water Project, Tamale Water Supply Expansion Project, Sunyani Water Project, Sekondi-Takoradi Water Project and Esiama Water Project, she said it will be continuously expanded to enable many Ghanaians to have access to potable water.
Regarding Agriculture, he said Government will launch the livestock model of Planting for Food and Jobs called “Rearing for Food and Jobs” (RFJ) aimed at increasing the production of selected livestock, especially poultry, adding that, ‘It is a key goal of government to replace a significant fraction of imports with domestic production to save foreign exchange in the medium term.’
To add value to Ghana’s natural resources, the Minister said ‘Government will focus on leveraging our huge bauxite resources to develop a comprehensive aluminum industry and also starting development of a PetroChemicals industry to add value to our oil and gas output.’
The government, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta maintained will broaden the tax net by simplifying the payment of taxes through different routes under the guidance of GRA.
‘This will include the elimination of paying for government services with cash, Requiring that citizens show their TIN before accessing social services like free health care under the National Health Insurance Programme, free secondary school education under the Free SHS programme beginning in September 2019 and other services like vehicle licensing and registration, passport services, banking service as well as mobile money services.’
On the other hand, the point of collection of withholding tax will be shifted to the point of export to simplify the collection of the tax for both small-scale mining operators and tax authorities.
To this end, Government in keeping with its commitment to lighten the tax burden of wage earners at the lower levels of the wage ladder has indicated that minimum wage will attract no income tax.
Furthermore, in line with Government’s promise to protect the public purse, the Special Prosecutor’s Office has been allocated GH￠180 million, with a commitment to provide additional resources during the course of 2019 to enable the Special Prosecutor’s Office to carry out its mandate.
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye ruled that matters relating to finance and expenditure in the Budget Statement be referred to the Finance Committee of Parliament and the other subjects also referred to the respective Committees of Parliament for further deliberations, in accordance with Act 140 sub-clause (51) of the Constitution.