GOVERNMENT YESTERDAY announced sweeping spending cuts to contain the deficit, as a first step toward expenditure rationalisation.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, who made the announcement during the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government, said there shall be no hampers for the 2022 festive season.
“There shall be no printing of diaries, notepads, calendars and other promotional merchandise by MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs for 2024,” he stated in Parliament.
According to him, all non-critical projects must be suspended for 2023 financial year, while all MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs are directed to reduce fuel allocations to political appointees and heads of MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs by 50%.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said this directive applies to all methods of fuel allocation, including coupons, electronic cards, chit system, and fuel depots, adding that accordingly, 50% of the previous years (2022) budget allocation for fuel shall be earmarked for official business pertaining to MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs.
Freeze On Tax Waivers
He also announced “a freeze on new tax waivers for foreign companies and review of tax exemptions for free zone, mining, oil and gas companies; a hiring freeze for civil and public servants; and no new government agencies shall be established in 2023.”
The minister intimated that the move reflects the government’s determination and resolve to confront the current daunting economic challenges facing the nation head-on and reset the economy.
“Mr. Speaker, the Government cares deeply about our people, and is very much concerned about their current plight and the future of our country,” he posited.
Ofori-Atta said the 2023 budget had been prepared with high consideration for the aspirations of Ghanaians and the brighter prospects of the economy to transition into Upper Middle Income within a decade.
In the immediate term, he asserted that the government would work towards securing an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, execute the debt exchange programme, improve the management of foreign exchange, and support the local productive capacity for food security.
“We are confident that the measures outlined in this 2023 Budget will redirect us on the path of macroeconomic stability and growth,” the minister said.
On the Ghana CARES programme launched two years ago to mitigate the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, the minister said a significant achievement had been made with the implementation of agreed activities despite the current macroeconomic challenges.
He stated that the high food prices and pressures on the local currency validates the current focus of the Ghana CARES Programme to bolster the productive and export capacity of the private sector.
To this end, an economic enclave project with focus on providing support for the cultivation of up to 110,000 acres of land in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central, Savannah and Oti regions is being pursued, he revealed.
He said this initiative, which seeks to expand the production and productivity in rice, tomato, maize, vegetables and poultry, is being led and coordinated by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) in collaboration with other government institutions such as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Ministry of Energy, Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA), 48 Engineers Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) under the Ministry of Defence, the National Entrepreneurial and Innovation Programme (NEIP) and the National Service Secretariat (NSS).
BY Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House