Currency will stabilise by end of year — Ken Ofori-Atta
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has given an assurance that the currency will stabilise by the end of this year.
As part of efforts to achieve that, the minister said the Bank of Ghana (BoG) had intensified efforts at addressing speculation which he said was fuelling the depreciation of the Ghana cedi, including dealing with other challenges militating against the local currency in the long term.
Mr Ofori-Atta, who gave the assurance at an Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) forum in Accra last Thursday, however, stressed the need for citizens to play their part to create a macroeconomic environment capable of meeting the essential needs of individual households and businesses.
“As the Minister of Finance, no one needs to tell me the ravages of the cedi depreciation which has become an albatross on the neck of our local industries and the high cost of living for all citizens,” he said.
The minister said the global situation had led to the depreciation of the Yen, Pound and the Euro, “while the dollar keeps getting stronger, the exchange rates keep increasing with the resultant economic challenges”.
The forum was attended by chief executives, managers and directors of firms such as Nestle Ghana, Nandis Limited, Hollard Ghana, Unilever Ghana, Poly Plus Limited and Metalex Limited.
Others were from Coca Cola Bottling Company of Ghana, Jospong Group of Companies, Guinness Ghana, GHACEM Limited, Activa International Insurance, Coconut Grove Hotel, Kasapreko Company Limited and Wilmar Africa Limited.
The participants later went into a closed-door session during which they engaged the minister on how to carry through some of the President’s requests for support to revive the economy in the short term, among other issues.
Mr Ofori-Atta acknowledged that the country was currently undergoing some challenges and, therefore, entreated the people to be strong while supporting the government to overcome the difficulties.
He said exploiting the productive capacity of the country was vital for job creation, sustainable and inclusive prosperity for all, stressing that “we cannot continue to be a nation of importers”.
Mr Ofori-Atta said between 2017 and 2020, the country spent as much as GH¢6.9 billion to import rice.
He added that the country also imported about GH¢4 billion worth of fish, GH¢1.9 billion worth of chicken and GH¢487 million worth of meat.
The minister said the time had come for the country to accelerate the establishment of a foundation that will make industries the backbone of a resilient and structural transformation.
The President of the AGI, Dr Humphrey Kwesi Ayim-Darke, said the economic challenges confronting the country called for broader and inclusive consultations to complement the government’s effort at finding workable solutions to salvage the situation.
“There are some areas of concern that colleagues here will bring to your attention but I will highlight these — the Value Added Tax (VAT) structure and the flat rate levy.
“AGI requested a review of the current VAT regime to take away the levy component and restrict it to the VAT standard rate regime as it was before,” he added.