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Help improve ease of doing business- Bawumia charges state agencies



Help improve ease of doing business- Bawumia charges state agencies

Help improve ease of doing business- Bawumia charges state agencies

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has charged state agencies whose mandate have a direct impact on businesses and investments to implement reforms that will help improve the country’s ease of doing business. The World Bank ranked Ghana 114th out of 190 countries in the world and 14th in sub-Saharan Africa in its latest ease of doing business ratings.

The latest ranking means that Ghana has moved six places up from the 2018 ratings that saw the country place 120th.

However, speaking at a national stakeholders’ meeting on reforms by the government to further improve ease of doing business in Accra yesterday, the Vice-President said although the country had made some gains, more work needed to be done to consolidate the gains and make Ghana the preferred destination for investors.

“The reasons behind the improved performance in the ease of doing business in 2019 are improvement in trading across borders through the implementation of the paperless customs clearance system, construction permits that strengthen construction quality controls and improvement in paying taxes.

“But we only moved up by six places; meanwhile the ranking is very competitive and all countries are reforming their operations to do well. So if we go to sleep, others will overtake us,” he said.

The meeting brought together officials from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), such as the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), the Registrar-General’s Department, the Judicial Service and some private sector players.

Key personalities who were at the meeting included the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo; the Registrar-General, Mrs Jemima Oware; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEPA, Ms Afua Asabea Asare, and a Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Marful-Sau.

The meeting was meant to appraise the reforms being taken by the agencies to improve service delivery to help improve the business environment.

The MDAs made presentations on how they were reforming to deliver on their mandates.

Dr Bawumia said the marginal improvement in the country’s ease of doing business was a reflection of the strategic steps the government had taken to digitise access to public services and formalise the economy.

He said there was an urgent need for MDAs to make conscious efforts to implement more reforms to ensure that obstacles to business development were removed to boost investor confidence in the country.

That, he said, required that state institutions moved away from the manual processes in delivering services to electronic platforms that would reduce human interfaces and reduce corrupt practices.

He said the manual system did not only make service delivery more cumbersome but also increased the turn-around time and discouraged the business community from doing business.

For instance, he asked the Customs Division of the GRA to take steps to reduce the manual examination of cargo at the ports, since that process was counter-productive.

“Information available to me shows that 90 per cent of containers coming in are still being physically examined, but it also translates into a revenue gain of about 0.38 per cent.

“There is the need to move towards the use of scanners and risk engines to reduce the stressful exercise of bringing the cargo out and refilling it.

“If we use the risk engine and it shows green, we should allow the containers go, so that we reduce physical examination to about 10 per cent as soon as possible,” he said.

He commended the MDAs, especially the GRA, the Registrar-General’s Department and the Judicial Service, for starting processes to reform their operations.

Private sector

For his part, Mr Osafo-Maafo said there was the need for a concerted effort to consolidate the marginal gains in the ease of doing business by removing obstacles that hampered the growth of the private sector.

He said the document on reforms for improved service delivery that was developed by the previous government had been reviewed to include the private sector, with a view to making the private sector the real driver of growth.

He, therefore, urged the various public sector agencies to play their facilitation role well, so that the private sector would be empowered to grow its businesses and create jobs.

Mr Osafo-Maafo urged members of the public to show a sense of patriotism by fulfilling their tax obligations and also supporting reforms aimed at transforming the economy.


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Akufo-Addo is a transformational leader – Economist



Akufo-Addo is a transformational leader – Economist

Mr Habibu Adam, an Economist, on Friday said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is a transformational leader who’s like is yet to be witnessed in the fourth republic.

“Right from Election 2016 campaigns to his inaugural speech on January 7, 2017 to the first budget of the new administration, the rhetoric of the President has sort to portray him as a transformational leader not seen in the Fourth Republic,” Mr Adam told the Ghana News Agency in an interview.

Mr Adam, who is also a Senior Economist at the Office of the Senior Minister, said this is based on the State of the Ghanaian economy and two years into Nana Akufo-Addo’s Government- “What are the real issues? And Why Ghanaians should be patient”.

He said the President came to meet challenges – coming at a time that the economy was experiencing low growth, rising rate of unemployment, high fiscal deficits, high and rising debt, and increased depreciation of the cedi, high cost of food, housing and utilities and high non-performing loans amongst others.

He said President Nana Akufo-Addo also inherited an economy with symptoms of deeper structural problems that required a wide range of reforms.

“As usual with the United Party (UP) tradition, the agenda was set right from the inaugural speech. However, many doubted the capability of the government in carrying out its ambitious plans considering the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) programme and the declining growth of most of the sectors of the economy.

“It is important to note that virtually all the targets set under the IMF programme have been missed as at the end of December, 2016. For instance, a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth (including oil) of 3.6 per cent was the lowest in 23 years- a deficit target of 5.3 per cent under the IMF programme was missed.

“The actuals were 9 per cent on cash basis and 10.2 per cent on commitment basis,” Mr Adam said.

The Senior Economist said Ghana’s total public debt from independence to 2008 (52years) stood at GH¢ 9.5 billion (33 per cent of GDP).

However, by 2016, the public debt had ballooned to GH¢ 122 billion (73.1 per cent or the revised figure of 56.6 per cent of GDP). Interest payment was about GH¢ 14.1 billion 6.2 per cent of GDP.

Mr Adam said the difficulty faced by Nana Akufo-Addo’s government was that three budget items consisting of wages and salaries, interest payments and amortization and statutory payments consisted 105 per cent of government revenue.

“This means that government had additional 5 per cent to meet the three budgetary items,” he said.

He said the state of the Ghanaian economy was akin to the ‘HIPC’ economy the Former President John Agyekum Kufour’s government inherited in 2001 except that there was no HIPC benefits this time since Ghana is now a Middle-Income Economy.

“The only alternative left for the Nana Akufo-Addo’s government was to borrow initially to stabilize the economy before pursuing its growth agenda.

“This is the most popular option among Keynesian Economists. Hence, the rise in public debt for the first two years of the current administration.

“The good news is that while in the past we could not relate the debts to projects or programmes in proportional terms, the current administration now provides the lists of all the borrowed funds to specific projects and programmes,” Mr Adam added.

Source: GNA

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Maintain freeze on public sector employment after IMF exit – Economist



Maintain freeze on public sector employment after IMF exit – Economist

Maintain freeze on public sector employment after IMF exit – Economist

The government has been warned to resist any temptation to lift the ban on employment into the public sector at the end of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme on April 2.

Speaking to Citi News, Economist at the University of Ghana, Dr. Ebo Tuckson said Ghana needs to move beyond government being the main supplier of jobs.

“We shouldn’t, once we leave, freeze public sector employment because when we do that, then we inflate the wage bill. That is one of the main reasons for expenditures that normally cause us to run huge fiscal deficits.”

“We should rather provide the environment for the private sector to thrive; for the private sector to generate employment and jobs that the economy needs,” the lecturer said.

In 2015, the three-year loan agreement concluded between the Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) contained agreements to freeze employment in government departments except for those under education and health.

This was part of measures to stabilize the economy and effectively manage the public wage bill.

The agreement was also expected the government to limit the nominal increase in the total wage bill to no more than 10 percent.

Ahead of the election in 2020, Dr. Ebo Tuckson also urged the government to be measured in its spending so it does not overrun the estimated budget for the year.

“If you look back over the fourth republic, with the exception of President Kufuor in his second election, where he was able to maintain the budget and not overrun it, all other government’s we have had have overrun their budget… The politicians, you know, when things heat up and things have to be done, that is when we sacrifice all these things and overrun the budget.”

IMF journey ends

The Executive Board of the IMF just approved the final disbursement of about US$185.2 million to Ghana.

The IMF Executive Board completed the seventh and eight reviews on March 20, 2019, under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) supported arrangement.

The fund pointed out that, considering Ghana’s resolve to tackle difficult reforms, the Executive Board also approved the authorities’ request for a waiver of the nonobservance of a few program targets.

Ghana’s three-year arrangement was approved on April 3, 2015, for about US$925.9 million or 180 percent of quota at the time of approval of the arrangement.

It was extended for an additional year on August 30, 2017, and is to end on April 2, 2019.

The arrangement aimed to restore debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability in the country to foster a return to high growth and job creation while protecting social spending.


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Bawumia to engage Ghanaians on country’s economy on April 3



Bawumia to engage Ghanaians on country’s economy on April 3

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and Head of the Government’s Economic Management Team, will on April 3, lead government team to a Town Hall Meeting at the College of Physicians and Surgeons to answer questions from the public on government policies and programmes.

The meeting, under the auspices of the Ministry of Information, would enable government officials, including state actors such as Ministers of State, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives and heads of agencies to provide account of their stewardship and provide vital information to the public.

It would also afford Ghanaians the opportunity to ask pertinent questions bordering on the various sectors of the economy and make contributions towards the governance process.

Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, the Information Minister, addressing journalists at a media encounter in Accra on Wednesday, said the maiden town hall meeting would come off on March 29 at Kasoa Datus School Park.

He said a total of 24 separate town hall meetings would be organised across the country this year.

The Minister said the town hall meetings were designed to bring governance closer to the people and showed a major shift in the government policy to make information accessible and useable by both Ghanaians within and in the Diaspora.

The town hall meetings, he said, would be accompanied by exhibitions by the Information Services Department that would provide pictorial and audio visuals of government activities over the past two years.

Mr Oppong-Nkrumah also used the media encounter to brief journalists about the Vice President’s official visit to India, to participate in the 14th Confederation of India Industries EXIM Bank on India-Africa Partnerships held in New Delhi, India.

Vice President Bawumia encouraged more investments for the country and held separate meeting with the India EXIM Bank officials.

During the meeting, Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said the Vice President signed a $150 million financing facility for agricultural mechanisation in Ghana and a $30 million facility for the Yendi water project.

The Minister explained that the $150 million facility would be used for provide equipment and training for the various agriculture mechanisation centres and service of equipment centres for access to farmers, while financing of the Yendi water project would aid in ensuring rapid socio-economic development in the area following the peaceful resolution of the age-long chieftaincy litigation.


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