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Political differences not synonymous to enmity ET Mensah

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Political differences need not be synonymous to enmity.

Member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), E.T Mensah has rehashed the age-old wisdom that political differences need not be synonymous with enmity.

Citing examples to buttress his point, Mr. ET Mensah disclosed that he was a long-time friend of President Akufo-Addo.

He indicated that his relationship with the President solidified while both of them were in Parliament.

He also said he became an in-law to Mr Kojo Mpiani after his daughter got married to the son of the NPP kingpin in the United States of America.

The former NDC MP for Ningo Prampram and current Greater Accra regional representative on the Council of State made these revelations when he addressed the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA).

The meeting was a session of the TMA’s General Assembly and was presided over by the National Dean of Presiding Members and the Greater Accra regional Dean of Presiding Members, who is also the Presiding Member for TMA, Mr Joseph Korto.

The meeting was also attended by the MP for Tema East, Mr Isaac Ashai Odamtten.

Business

Post budget workshop helps MPs to interrogate budget statement

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Post budget workshop helps MPs to interrogate budget statement

Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has stated that post budget workshop was to help members interrogate critical issues during the consideration of the budget estimates and conduct effective oversight role.

He said it was also designed to provide members with insight into the budget to enable them debate and make meaningful contributions on the floor of the House.

He said as representative of the people they owed it a duty to thoroughly scrutinize the budget to determine the extent to which it addressed the country’s developmental challenges particular issues relating to poverty eradication, gender, children and vulnerable issues, employment, social issues, infrastructural challenges and the security of the nation.

He made the observation at a Post Budget Workshop for Members of Parliament (MPs) on the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government at Ho in the Volta Region.

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu has however served notice to government that the Minority Caucus in Parliament would not support the introduction of the proposed electronic levy policy in the 2022 budget statement.

He said the proposed levy served as a disincentive for the growth of the digital economy, investment and the development of the private sector of the country.

“Mr Speaker, our concern is whether the e-levy itself is not and will not be a disincentive to the growth of the digital economy in our country. We are convinced that the e-levy may as well even be a disincentive to investment and a disincentive to private sector development in our country.

“Mr Speaker, we in the minority may not and will not support the government with the introduction of that particular e-levy. We are unable to build a national consensus on that particular matter.”

The workshop is aimed at equipping members with skills to enable them scrutinize the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government and to pass the 2021 Appropriation Act.

The platform also created opportunity for knowledge and experience sharing by members and to understand the policy-underpinnings of government on finances and economic planning for the year 2022.

Mr Iddrisu added that the Minister of Finance in his effort to redeem the economy sought to introduce some measures including; the controversial e-levy or digital levy.

He said the proposed e-levy would be dangerous to the Ghanaian economy as many people would move back to the cash system and defeat the drive towards the paperless system, which he said was their motivating factor not to support the introduction of the levy.

“To paraphrase the Vice President why tax the ordinary poor people…since when have the poor been above ordinary for momo and banking to be taxed and even the projection of 1.75 percent e-levy may as well workout to be 3.75 percent” he added.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta in his comment highlighted some of the positive fiscal and macro-economic indicators, which he said pointed to good economic trajectory.

He said 2022 Budget Statement was geared towards post COVID-19 recovery agenda, revitalization and transformation of the economy while ensuring fiscal and debt sustainability to promote macro-economic stability for the recovery process and growth of the economy.

The proposed e-levy is scheduled to start on January 1, 2022, if approved by Parliament.

In 2020, the total value of transactions was estimated to be over GH¢500 million with mobile money subscribers and users growing by 16 percent in 2019.

According to a Bank of Ghana report, Ghana saw an increase of over 120 percent in the value of digital transactions between February 2020 and February 2021 compared to 44 percent for the period February 2019 to February 2020 due to the convenience they offer.

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Debate on 2022 Budget Statement begins Tuesday, November 23

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Debate on 2022 Budget Statement begins Tuesday, November 23

Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has informed Parliament that the debate on the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government would commence next Tuesday, November 23.

He said the Business Committee looked forward to a well-researched and informed debate, and proposed that discussion for each day be structured along specific sectors.

“That is to ensure coherence, comprehension and logical flow of the debate,” the Majority Leader said, as he presented, in Parliament, the Business Statement for the Fifth Week Ending Friday, November 26, 2021.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the Business Committee recommended Tuesday, November 23, for the Finance, Environment, Gender, Foreign Affairs, Youth and Sports and Employment committees to take their turn.

Wednesday, November 24, is for the Health, Trade and Industry, Communication, Local Government, Lands and Forestry, Works and Housing, and Energy and Mining committees.

Thursday, November 25, would have the Education, Agriculture, Roads and Transport, Defence and Interior, Judiciary, Parliament, Independent Governance Institutions and Government Machinery committees taking their turn.

The leadership; the Majority and Minority sides, would conclude the debate on Friday, November 26.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said on each day of the debate, two members from each side of the political divide would be expected to contribute to the discussion.

He urged the House to stick to the 1000 hours normal time to start proceedings, having regard to the business scheduled for the week under consideration.

The Business Committee recommended extended sitting for each day to enable the House to conclude on Friday, as scheduled.

 

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Mahama’s attack of the economy defies logic – John Kumah

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John Kumah(Dep Fin Minister)writes: Mahama’s attack of the economy defies logic – Part

My attention has been drawn to Mr. John Dramani Mahama’s recent address dubbed “thankGhana.” In the address, Mr. Mahama made commentary on different facets of Ghana, including political governance, economic development, and job creation. I, however, would not spend time exposing the hypocrisy of Mr. Mahama on all the issues he raised but on the economy.

As a Deputy Minister of Finance, I feel compelled to provide some facts and figures to aid the understanding and appreciation of the former President on the excellent work President Nana Addo has done to correct the mess he left and the quest to build forward better post-COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps it is important for me to elucidate to Mr. Mahama the government’s strives to weather the devastating effects of COVID-19. Thanks to the “people first” policy of Nana Addo when COVID first came to our Country, lives were saved, businesses were protected, and the economic cost of the pandemic largely attenuated. As a result, Ghana is currently seeing a rebound in growth, inflation is on a downward trend albeit the recent blips, the Cedi’s depreciation is at an all-time low, and international reserve is at an all-time high of 6 months of import cover.

The government has continued with the much-needed flagship programmes expected to aid the Country’s economic transformation, including the recently introduced GhanaCARES programme. However, equally crucial to Ghana’s economic rebound is the maintenance of the Country’s security given the volatile security situation of the sub-region. Indeed, the government has provided the required resources to guarantee that the territorial integrity of Ghana is maintained. Also, the massive roll-out of COVID-19 jabs is facilitating the quicker rebound of the economy.

The former President repeatedly intimated that Ghana’s economy is in a dire state and require IMF support. Indeed, the former President said that the NPP Government has refused to accept and acknowledge the Country’s economic predicaments. The ex-President’s statement is surprising, especially when Nana Addo’s government has been honest with Ghanaians on the economic situation he inherited and the measures to turn around the fortunes of the Country. Maybe, a bit of macroeconomic statistics will enable the former President to appreciate the excellent work of Nana Addo’s Government.

By the end of 2016, when Mr. Mahama was the President, real Gross Domestic Product moniker GDP was 3.4 percent. End year inflation was at a high of 15.4 percent and a currency depreciation of 9.6 percent. Central government Fiscal deficit for 2016 was 6.5 percent. Indeed, if one look at the deficit front general government where all contingent liabilities are included, the deficit could be much higher. Primary balance, which indicates the Country’s ability to service its debt, was negative at 1.4 percent. Government’s short time securities were selling at an all-time high, with 91-day bills at 16.9 percent. Current account was in the negative at 6.6 percent of GDP. Trade balance was also negative, and Ghana’s international reserves could cover only 3.5 months of imports.

Since the NPP government assumed office, real GDP has been growing with a 8.1 percent in 2017, 6.3 percent in 2018, 6.5 percent in 2019. Even with COVID-19, where the global economy plunged into recession, Ghana still recorded positive growth of 0.4 percent. According to the World Bank, the pandemic upended over a decade of growth witnessed in Sub-Sahara Africa, with an estimated negative growth of 2.4 percent in 2020. The negative growth was Africa’s first economic contraction in a generation and the deepest recession since the 1960s. Fitch Ratings acknowledged that Ghana’s 0.4 percent growth in 2020 was one of the few sovereigns globally to record positive growth, and they project a growth rebound of 5 percent in 2021.

On inflation, NPP’s record is unmatched. Nana Addo’s government has implemented policies and programmes which have resulted in a reduction in inflation from high end-year inflation of 15.4 percent in 2016 to 11.8 percent in 2017, 9.4 percent in 2018, and 7.9 percent in 2019. By 2020, with COVID-19, inflation increased to 10.4 percent but was lower than Mr Mahama’s 2016 record.

Regarding the Cedi’s depreciation against the major currencies, the performance of Nana Addo is unparallel. From a high of 9.6 percent in 2016, the average exchange rate dropped to 4.9 percent in 2017, 8.4 percent in 2018, and reduce to a low of 3.5 percent in 2021. Indeed, in February 2020, the Cedi was the best performing currency in the world. This clearly indicates that the NPP government has managed the currency better than we saw in the past. The Cedi’s performance so far this year has been phenomenal, especially when compared to 2019’s end-year larger depreciation of 12.9%, 15.7%, and 11.2% to the US Dollar, Pound Sterling, and Euro respectively.

For the most part of this year (Jan.–June 2021), the Cedi appreciated to the dollar and the Euro. As at 1st June 2021, the Cedi appreciated by 0.23% and 0.35% against the dollar and the Euro, respectively. But it depreciated against the GBP by 3.26%. This performance certainly is attributable to several measures initiated by Government and the Bank of Ghana (BoG), including the novel FX Forward Auction which has reduced pressure at the FX spot market and the Country’s relatively stable sovereign credit rating.

Other factors include the credible plan of Government to build back better the economy (restore macroeconomic stability) post-COVID-19 and return to the Fiscal rule by 2024, which has given confidence to investors. Also, the relatively large reserves and the excellent performance of the managers of the economy have contributed in keeping the Cedi in check. This has been achieved despite the deleterious external headwinds, including strengthening the dollar on the back of positive economic data, risk-off sentiments, and growth in US job numbers. By the end of August 2021, the Cedi depreciated by 1.6 percent against the US Dollar.

The figure attached shows the exchange development in Ghana from 2018 to September 2021.

It is important to note that developments in the exchange rate market under the NDC were much direr. Indeed, the Cedi as at the end of September 2012 had depreciated by 17.9% to the dollar, 14.1% to the GBP and 13.1% to the Euro at the interbank market. By September 2013, the Cedi gained marginally when it depreciated by 4.12% to the dollar, 9.97% to the GBP and 14.1% to the Euro. By the end of 2013, the Cedi maintained its level at 4.12% depreciation. However, the GBP further depreciated from 9.97% to 16.73% and Euro from 14.1% to 20.05%.

By September 2014, the currency saw it worse when it depreciated by a whopping 31.19% to the dollar, 29.32% to the GBP and 23.63% to the Euro. This development certainly reflected the competence or otherwise of the managers of the economy at that time. However, the situation improved slightly when the local currency depreciated by 14.8%, 12.6%, and 7.8% to the dollar, GBP, and Euro, respectively, by September 2015.

By the end 2016, the Cedi depreciated by 9.6% to the dollar, appreciated by 10% to the GBP and depreciated by 5.4% to the Euro. There is no denying that the NDC’s performance in the exchange rate market was dismal.

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