Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has revealed that the Government spent about ¢8,134 million, equivalent to 15.1% of Domestic Revenues to preserve livelihoods due to the outbreak of the COVID-19. According to him, this amount also represents about 8.1% of total expenditure.
Meanwhile, he highlighted several initiatives the government took to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of Ghanaians. This included the distribution of cooked food packs to vulnerable and underprivileged persons within Accra and Kumasi; free water supplied to 10 million people between April to December 2020.
As a result, he noted that this has increased the average monthly water supply by 43.21%. Monthly water supply rose from 9.24 million cubic meters to reach 13.23 million cubic meters. Besides, 474 small towns and 1,143 rural communities benefited from the Community Water and Sanitation Agency.
Furthermore, the government launched the GH¢750 million Coronavirus Alleviation Program – Business Support Scheme (CAP-BuSS). This aims at mitigating the impact of the pandemic on several Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs).
Giving an update on this, the finance minister stated that as of April 2021, about GH¢412.88 million had been disbursed to 277,511 businesses. According to him, about 69% of the beneficiaries are females. The scheme, he said, “has saved over 650,000 MSME jobs”.
Growth of public debt lower than previous administrations
Meanwhile, the finance minister has assured Ghanaians that the government is working very hard to reduce the growth of public debt. He explained that “the rate of growth of the public debt has been lower under our Government than under previous administrations”.
Moreover, he indicated that the rate of debt growth was lower despite massive investments in the government’s flagship programs. According to him, between 2012 and 2016, the country’s debt rose by 243% as compared to 137% between 2016 and 2020.
He cited the free SHS, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), NABCO, and One District One Factory (1D1F) as examples. Also, he mentioned the One Constituency One Ambulance, One Village One Dam (1V1D), and the restoration of teacher and nursing training allowances as some of such initiatives. According to him, the government did all these “while maintaining relative macroeconomic and exchange rate stability”.
Furthermore, he stated that the debt stock as of End-December 2020 stood at a nominal figure of GH¢291,614 million. This represents 76.1 percent of GDP compared to GH¢217,991 million, equivalent to 62.4 percent of GDP in 2019.
He highlighted GH¢ 25.2 billion as the Fiscal Impact of COVID-19 and GH¢ 21 billion as the Cost of Financial Sector Clean up. Also, he pointed out that the government spent GH¢ 12 billion on Excess Capacity Charges to IPPs. All these, he indicated, were included in the debt stock.
New Development Bank
Furthermore, he indicated that in the coming days, the government will move swiftly to address some of the issues that the #Fixtheeconomy has raised. Some of the things the government will do include the implementation of the US$200million Jobs and Skills Programme. Also, the government will enhance the distribution of potable water to areas most in need.
More importantly, he revealed that by the end of July, Ghana will have a new Development Bank. This “will provide long-term wholesale financing to the private sector through Commercial banks”.