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04 October 2016

Non-oil sectors need consolidation

ebenezer-oduroThe Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu has called for policies that will stimulate and consolidate growth in the non-oil sector, which last year grew the fastest for the first time in five years; outpacing overall GDP growth.

This, he said, stems from the fact that in 2015, non-oil GDP growth was 4.1 percent as compared to the overall GDP growth of 3.9 percent, indicating that for the first time since 2011, non-oil GDP growth has outpaced total GDP growth.

“We cannot be overly dependent on oil. We must not use oil as an excuse for the non-performance of the other sectors of the economy,” Prof. Owusu said when he launched the State of the Ghanaian Economy Report (SGER), 2015 in Accra.

The comments come in the wake of a slump in the country’s quarterly GDP figures, which according to the Ghana Statistical Service grew by 2.5 percent in the second quarter of this year as compared to an economic growth of 4.8 percent in the first quarter; a decline the Service attributed to the hitches in oil production due to the challenges on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah.

According to Prof. Owusu however, other sectors of the economy are performing creditably for which reason the agriculture sector in particular must be revamped to give the country a strong economic footing and a return to stable terms.

The SGER report, which analyses the actual economic figures churned out by the Ghana Statistical Service, indicates that real GDP dipped from 4 percent in 2014 to 3.9percent in 2015.

Ghana’s GDP is projected to increase to 4.5percent in 2016 on grounds that energy supply remains stable. However, Professor Felix Asante, Director of ISSER and Co-ordinator of SGER, said that three key factors could compromise this year’s economic outlook.

“Debt strategy of increasing borrowing on the private capital market whilst the challenge of spending efficiency lingers maybe counterproductive.

The increasing levels of taxes as well as the energy challenges that the country has faced may compromise the growth target for 2016,” adding that:“Fiscal outcomes are compromised in election years and it remains very important that we remain firm in our commitment not to get carried away by the pressure to spend.”

Prof. Asante explained that political as well as fiscal discipline is required to improve macroeconomic stability, saying: “This calls for a serious prioritisation of public finances.”

The report among other things, portrays a decline in the country’s educational standards especially in the areas of mathematics and sciences.

The ISSER study shows that enrolment in education,particularly at the basic level doubled from 3.5million to nearly 7million from 1990s to 2012.

Interestingly, public schools had a range of 58percent to 75percent trained teachers due to the posting of newly trained teachers from colleges of education compared to 9-16 percent in private schools.

Quality wise however, high performing pupils were found to be more likely to attend private schools despite the high percentage of trained teachers at public schools.

This, Professor Jonathan Fletcher, Dean, School of Education and Leadership of the University of Ghana said needs a ‘serious rethink’.

There also exist large disparity between the high performing well-endowed and poor performing deprived schools, the report says, adding that the disparity in student performance is a major concern which needs addressing if quality education is to be increased.

Source: B&FT

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