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Government begins implementation of flagship programmes in second half of 2017

By
Benjamin Mensah, GNA

Accra, July 31, GNA –
The Government has successfully laid the foundation for flagship programmes and
would start implementing them in the second half of the year (2017).

Finance Minister Ken
Ofori-Atta said the focus of the Government in the first half of the year was
to stabilise the economy and to re-establish the principles of good economic
governance.

In a Mid-Year Fiscal
Policy Review of the 2017 Budget, the first under the Public Financial
Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), presented to Parliament on Monday, Mr
Ofori-Atta said measures to strengthen revenue performance to enable the
Government achieve its objectives were being put in place.

The Minister, on March
2, 2017, presented the first budget, christened; “Asempa Budget (Good News
Budget), to “brought hope back to Ghanaians and sowed the seeds for growth,
prosperity and jobs,” but which the Minority described as Asam Bone (Bad News)
budget.  

Mr Ofori-Atta
commended the Government for “the prudent economic policies,” saying it has
improved fiscal discipline and competent management of the economy, with the
macro-indicators for the first half of the year pointing in the right
direction.

The flagship programme
“Planting for Food and Jobs”, has already taken off, with about 185,907
farmers, out of 200,000 targeted for the 2017 cropping season having been
registered and provided with seeds, fertilisers and extension services to
improve their yields.

Other flagship
programmes include the; “One District, One Factory” and the restructuring of
the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Mr Ofori-Atta said for
the first six months of the Akufo-Addo Government, both the fiscal deficit and
primary balance outperformed their targets.

“The exchange rate is
stabilising, inflationary pressures have eased and interest rates are trending
downwards. Progressively, confidence is being restored in the economy and we
are confident that this positive trend will be sustained in the months and
years ahead,” he said.

During the period, the
House passed the Income Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 941); the Customs and
Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) Repeal Act, 2017 (Act
943); the Special Import Levy (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 944); the Energy
Sector Levies (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 946); Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act,
2017 (Act 948), and the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Act, 2017 (Act
947).

The Special Petroleum
Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 942) and Customs (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 949)
were also passed.

The Government also
abolished the one per cent Special Import Levy which was imposed mainly on
imported raw materials and machinery; the 17.5 per cent VAT/NHIL on financial
services; the 17.5 per cent VAT/NHIL imposed on airline tickets; the excise
duty on petroleum to reduce the excess burden on final consumers and reduced
the special petroleum tax rate from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent to mitigate
the excess burden on final consumers.

It has abolished also
five per cent VAT flat rate on the sale of real estate; the import duty on
spare parts; exempted from tax, the gains from realisation of securities listed
on the Ghana Stock Exchange.

The Government has
also reviewed the ESLA to reduce the cost of power and reduced the National
Electrification Scheme Levy from five per cent to three per cent; and the
Public Lighting Levy from five per cent to two per cent.

The Finance Minister
announced that he would come back to Parliament this week to lay the
Regulations to abolish the 17.5 per cent VAT/NHIL on selected imported
medicines, which are currently not produced locally.

The Mid-Year Fiscal
Policy Review focused on an overview of recent macroeconomic developments; an
update of macroeconomic forecasts contained in the 2017 Budget; analysis of the
total revenue, expenditure and financing performance; a revised 2017
macro-fiscal framework and the implication of the revised budget outlook for
the Medium-Term Fiscal and Expenditure Framework.

According to the
Minister, the New Patriotic Party inherited a “severely impaired economy, but
provisional data released by the Ghana Statistical Service in April, 2017,
however, show that real GDP growth for 2016 was 3.5 per cent, against the
provisional estimate of 3.6 per cent reported in the 2017 Budget and lower than
the 3.8 per cent recorded for 2015, the lowest in over 15 years.

The Services Sector,
which though was the best growth performer in 2016, recorded a growth of barely
5.7 per cent, followed by the Agriculture Sector, growing at 3.0 per cent and
the Industry Sector which contracted by 1.4 per cent.

 GNA

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