The Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta presented the 2019 Budget statement to Parliament. According to Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, the private sector added 208,620 formal jobs in the first 10 months of 2018, an increase on the 197,000 formal jobs registered in 2017.
Excerpts of the 2019 Budget statement dubbed "A Stronger Economy, for Jobs and Prosperity" read:
Mr. Speaker let me say how pleased His Excellency the President is, that in 2018, 270,000 young Ghanaians (90,000 in 2017/2018 and 180,000 in 2018/2019) who would not have been able to access secondary education were able to attend to do so because of Free SHS. We cannot downplay how significant this is to build a future for every citizen of this land.
Mr. Speaker, the days of an ailing National Health Insurance Scheme are behind us. We have re-energised the scheme which is now able to settle its bills, thereby ensuring that many more Ghanaians have access to quality healthcare across the country.
For our Government, support for the private sector is a top priority. Our efforts to improve the business environment were duly recognised in the 2019 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, in which our position improved from 120th to 114th, out of 190 countries.
This is just the beginning, as we strive to continually improve the business climate in Ghana. We can and will do much better. The government has provided strong support to stimulate the private sector. In addition to bringing down interest rates, we provided direct support to the sector, through the Stimulus and 1D1F programmes. The 1D1F programme has generated strong interest from several banks. Fifty-five (55) companies have been funded, with several others in the pipeline.
Mr. Speaker, Government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme (PFJ) is yielding impressive results. In order to consolidate the gains achieved under programme, Government, last week, operationalised the Ghana Commodity Exchange, the first electronic commodity exchange in West Africa. Going forward, there will always be a ready market for farmers who produce grains such as corn and soya, among others.
Through this exchange an estimated 200,000 skilled jobs will be provided not only in Accra but in key agriculture production and trading centres including Wenchi, Tamale and Sandema which host warehouses to support the exchange. Some of the jobs to be created include commodity brokers, data analysts, credit officers and grain pickers.
Mr. Speaker, Ghana’s credibility in the international capital market is on the rise. As a testament to the prudent fiscal and monetary policies of this Government, in May 2018, The AkufoAddo Government successfully issued its first Eurobond, with shining success: a hat trick of 3 Ls:
•Largest Eurobond issuance of $2 billion;
•the Longest maturity period of 30 years; and
•the Lowest pricing in Ghana’s history–8.627 percent for the 30-year bond!
Mr. Speaker, 2018 Ghana’s appeal as the preferred investment destination has grown significantly and we have attracted global industry giants such as Volkswagen, Nissan, ExxonMobil and Siemens to establish local assembly plants.
Mr. Speaker, our policies have improved the business environment and the private sector has responded by increasing jobs. Based on SSNIT data, the private sector added 208,620 formal jobs in the first 10 months of 2018, an increase on the 197,000 formal jobs registered in 2017.
We have resourced the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to develop a more robust system to track employment on a quarterly basis.
Government is also doing its part on job creation. Over the period 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Finance granted financial clearance to various agencies to recruit 88,719 Ghanaians into critical sectors of agriculture, health, and education to enable us to improve service delivery. In addition, the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO), a three – year transitional job opportunity for young graduates has enrolled 100,000 young graduates to support the delivery of critical public services.
Mr. Speaker, this is a monumental achievement as it is the largest single jobs and skills development programme in the last 50 years. The testimonies from the beneficiaries and their families have reaffirmed Government’s commitment to transform our society.
Mr. Speaker, in recent times, the NPP Government has had to inherit an IMF programme from our friends across the aisle which we have successfully completed. Notwithstanding exiting this current programme after successful completion, we will continue with our prudent management of the economy and buttress that with legal and institutional measures to ensure irreversibility of the gains made so far. However, as a member in good standing, we will continue our productive policy and technical collaborations with the IMF.
Mr. Speaker, Ghana can look forward with renewed confidence. This seminal 2019 budget, which comes at the mid-term of our administration aims to consolidate the gains from tough reform measures taken so far and surge boldly forward in growing our economy especially as we successfully exit the ECF programme with the IMF, our trusted advisors in the past three years. Under the ECF programme, we jointly made some difficult decisions, which have enabled us to improve our macroeconomic situation.
Mr. Speaker, we would like to acknowledge the role and contributions of the IMF in our achievements in macroeconomic stabilisation and growth. As a member of the IMF, Ghana will continue to engage the IMF through Article IV consultations and other arrangements even after its exit from the current ECF Programme.
As we complete and exit the programme in December 2018, we are also instituting measures to ensure irreversibility of the macroeconomic gains we have made. Consequently, we will, among others:
●legislate a fiscal responsibility rule to cap the fiscal deficit to no more than 5% of GDP as part of measures to promote budget credibility and fiscal sustainability;
●strictly enforce the PFM Act to promote efficient and effective public financial management;
●continue with the zero central bank financing arrangement with the BoG to curb fiscal dominance as part of measures to rein in on inflation;
●maximize domestic resource mobilization and increase Tax Revenue-to-GDP ratio to levels in line with our peer Lower Middle-Income countries;
●implement expenditure efficiency and rationalisation measures to increase efficiency in public spending and free more fiscal space for growth-oriented and job-creating programmes;
●enforce the Public Procurement Act and ensure sole sourcing is minimized to promote competition and efficiency in public spending, thereby, promoting value for money; and
●institute risk management framework to mitigate macrofiscal risks. In view of this a Fiscal Risks Unit has been established at the Ministry of Finance.
God has demonstrated countless times that He can use ordinary people, ordinary nations in ordinary times to do extraordinary things. Ghana has a history replete with “extraordinary” achievements – nationally, regionally and internationally. These achievements were the result and culmination of right choices.
Mr. Speaker, having set the tone for this budget, in accordance with the Public Financial Management Act, I will proceed to provide details of Government’s plans for 2019, focusing on:
●Recent global macroeconomic developments, and their implications for Ghana;
●Ghana’s macroeconomic performance in 2018, and our targets for 2019 and the medium term; and
●Sectoral performance, Government’s key programmes, and policy initiatives, and the consequent deliverables.