Why we must pursue inclusive growth
The key point of the Budget Statement read a few days ago by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, was the focus of the economy expanding in value terms to GH¢1 trillion by end of 2024.
A key milestone indeed.We have moved from a third world economy to middle income status within this fourth republic. The economy keeps expanding each year, which is positive for every economy. Interestingly, a key sector that has driven the economy has been on the back of the service industry in recent times. The industrial sector, rather unfortunately, has been missing with regard to higher growth prospects needed to generate the economic impact we so desire — jobs.
Graphic Business takes note of the contribution of the agriculture sector to the economy over the past years. However, the key question is, why are food prices so high?
A key component of government’s growth strategy for 2024 lies in some laudable projects to be anchored on the Planting for Food and Jobs version 2 (PFJ 2). There is also talk of economic enclaves and many other initiatives as outlined in the budget statement.
Over the past year when inflation soared to a dizzying height of 54 per cent at the beginning of this year, a key component driving the consumer price index was hinged mainly on soaring food prices among other variables.
Of course, the increases in utility tariffs also played a major role in the escalation of prices, while the wobbly cedi also accounted for spikes in the inflationary pressures because of our over dependence on imports.
The question posed earlier has been a major concern for many. Given that if Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) had been such a success, there would have been a mitigation on the impact of food prices on the Ghanaian consumers in the midst of the global confluence of crises which accounted for soaring world prices of goods. (Let us be mindful that Ghana had one of the highest inflationary rates in the world).
In other words, we are yet to feel the full impact of PFJ 1 on account of the rising cost of food prices.
Therefore, this presents an opportunity to review the PFJ initiative as well as many other related initiatives as Government has outlined in the budget statement with regard to the PFJ version 2.
Government recognises in its own budget that unless there is a critical shift in the way we have carried on the business of agriculture with half-hearted solutions in this country, we will always go in circles.
While, it is good to engage the Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) to facilitate the business of agricultural linkages and or supply chain, it is equally important that the lessons learnt under the PFJ 1 is brought to bear to scale up the project. Eventually its impact should be measured by the cost of common food stables.
Graphic Business is in agreement with all the experts who propose that government should, as a matter of urgency, give priority attention to agriculture as a means to engender our economic growth and create the needed jobs through agriculture value chain and exports.
It is a recognition not lost on government that the only way to ensure an inclusive GH¢1 trillion economic expansion is through a radical thinking of the business of agriculture and position it to grow in leaps and bounds taking advantage of the value chain processes.
The issues being talked about are not just test book knowledge, but practical solutions that have the potential to quadruple our economy by taking advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, only if we stop paying lip service to this very important sector.
It is a national shame for Ghana to be importing onions and tomatoes from landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali.
Graphic Business dare to say that a GH¢1 trillion economy is meaningless unless it is linked up to the liberation of the micro-economy and provides prosperity for all- that is inclusive growth.
We cannot talk of a GH¢1 trillion in the abstract, it has to be meaningful to the ordinary man on the streets, workers, farmers, and workers in general.
Needless to reiterate, the business of agriculture, not just agriculture in its present form has the potential to translate the GH¢1 billion economy into foods on our tables and real incomes in our pockets.
After all, of what good is a GH¢1 trillion economy, if such an economy cannot generate jobs and feed its people?