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2023 Budget is beautiful, but would it be implemented? Bismark Ayorogo expresses worry

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It would be recalled that in the 2023 Budget Statement and Financial Policy, the government stated, “to boost local productive capacity, we will among others: cut the imports of public sector institutions that rely on imports either for inputs or consumption by 50% and will work with the Ghana Audit Service and the Internal Audit Agency to ensure compliance; support the aggressive production of strategic substitutes, including the list disclosed at the President’s last address to the nation; Support large-scale agriculture and agribusinesses interventions through the Development Bank Ghana and ADB Bank; introduce policies for the protection and incubation newly formed domestic industries to allow them to make the goods produced here competitive for local consumption and also for exports. To promote exports, we will among others: expand our productive capacity in the real sector of the economy and actively encourage the consumption of locally produced rice, poultry, vegetable oil and fruit juices, ceramic tiles among others.”

When the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, presented the 2023 Budget on the floor of Parliament, he continued to say, “Mr. Speaker, as I have already indicated, Ghana’s heavy dependence on imports places tremendous pressure on the Cedi, creating an unfavourable balance of payments position. On average, Ghana’s import bill exceeds US$10 billion annually and is accounted for by a diverse range of items that include iron, steel, aluminum, sugar, rice, fish, poultry, palm oil, cement, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, Toilet roll, toothpick, fruit juices, etc. We currently have the capacity as a country to locally produce items that account for about 45 percent of the value of our annual imports. These include rice, fish, sugar, poultry, cement, pharmaceuticals, jute bags, computers, etc. To this end, Government will target these products for import substitution by supporting the private sector, through partnerships with existing and prospective businesses to expand, rehabilitate and establish manufacturing plants targeted at producing these selected items.”

Additionally, “it has been two years since the launch of the GhanaCARES programme to mitigate the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. Significant achievement has been made with the implementation of agreed activities despite the current macroeconomic challenges. Mr. Speaker, the high food prices and pressures on the local currency validates the current focus of the GhanaCARES Programme to bolster the productive and export capacity of the private sector. To this end, an Economic Enclave project with focus on providing support for the cultivation of up to 110,000 acres of land in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central, Savannah and Oti Regions is being pursued. Mr. Speaker, this initiative which seeks to expand our production and productivity in rice, tomato, maize, vegetables and poultry is being led and coordinated by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) in collaboration with other Government institutions such as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Ministry of Energy, Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA), 48 Engineers Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) under the Ministry of Defence, the National Entrepreneurial and Innovation Programme (NEIP) and the National Service Secretariat (NSS),” the Minister said.

Bismark Ayorogo, the Executive Director of  Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA) is excited about the wording of the 2023 Budget Statement. Mr. Ayorogo is however sceptical that the government would be able to implement fully the strategies contained in the budget. 

He said this when he spoke on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East Show today, Tuesday, November 29, 2022. 

“I think that the budget talks about boosting local capacity, aggressive industralisation, import substitution and all that has been beautiful but the thing is that it is not new and therefore it is not news to us. This is what we have always said. We know all the beautiful things we need to do to solve the problems. We know what we can do to grow the economy but doing what we know we should do for the betterment of this country now and in the foreseeable future has always been a challenge,” he said. 

Mr. Ayorogo continued to say, “if after 60 years we are still importing toothpick, is it something that we should be proud of?Some of us applauded the government when it announced to the world its policy to industralise and because they believe in slogans, they decided to say One District One Factory. The bottom line is we really need to industralise.”

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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