2024 Budget Statement must count for something
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, goes to Parliament next week to present the national budget amid all the fanfare and drama.
It may, perhaps, be the finance minister’s last budget reading, if the conventions established some time ago are continued.
That is, a new administration will present its own budget when the baton of governance changes after the 2024 General Election.
Assuming that the current government is able to “break the 8”, we do not see the current Finance Minister returning to his post.
This is on account of the fact that he is currently, under the 4th Republic, the only finance minister to serve an entire eight years, as we do not foresee any cabinet reshuffling from now till after the 2024 election.
Again, we have been told that Ken suffered the after effects of COVID-19 health-wise; we wish him well.
On a personal level, we would presume that eight years of being in the political limelight would be fulfilling for any finance minister.
On these accounts, therefore, this may well be his last “full-year budget reading”, even though in practice, he may have the opportunity to present a mid-year budget next year and also present a three-month budget for the beginning of 2025, if the above mentioned convention is applied.
Ken Ofori-Atta indeed is a strong character. He survived the clamour to get him out of office by both the opposition and his party members in Parliament.
And we believe the decision to maintain him at the peak of the country’s economic crises was a good one.
We are the beneficiaries of stability at the leadership front at the nation’s treasury as all macro-economic indicators are trending downwards albeit, slowly.
That is why Ken’s “final” Budget statement should count for something. Even though, we acknowledge that there is actually very little room for the Finance Minister to manoeuvre on account of our country’s programme with the IMF.
However, there is some hope. Under the IMF programme, we take note that all government’s social intervention projects have been maintained; talk of School Feeding Programme, Free SHS, NHIS, Planting for Food and Jobs, LEAP, Obaatanpa Cares Programme etc.
On the other hand there is also the added effect of job freeze in the public sector, government expenditure rationalisation and overall government spending cuts.
Graphic Business also takes note of the recent World Report that projects that a lot more Ghanaians have moved below the poverty line on the basis of higher inflation and the higher cost of living generally in the country as a result of the global supply chain disruptions following the pandemic.
Therefore, being minded of these developments and taking a cue from the responses of about 130 businesses in a survey (please refer to our front page story of today), we expect the 2024 Budget statement to bring some relief, no matter how marginal, to businesses.
After all, it is the private sector that can spur the needed economic impetus for growth and job creation that the country so badly needs.