President Nana Akufo-Addo and some SHS students

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has said the Akufo-Addo government has saved Ghanaian parents GH¢2.2 billion through the Free Senior High School programme.

Presenting the 2020 mid-year budget review to Parliament on Thursday, 23 July 2020, Mr Ofori-Atta said: “Mr. Speaker, in acknowledging that education is the primary driver for upward social and economic mobility, we rolled out a raft of policy measures to improve the opportunities of our people”.

“We invested GH¢3.2 billion to implement Free SHS, resulting in over 1.2 million teenagers being in secondary school now, looking forward to better opportunities in life. For their parents and families, this has translated into GH¢2.2 billion in savings”, he said, adding: “That is money that the State has put back into the pockets of Ghanaians all across the country”.

According to him, “We have also invested in excess of GH¢1.6 billion in 100,000 jobless but educated young adults who had been ignored by the State and were in despair. Through the new NaBCO initiative, they have been engaged in various state and private institutions, with some of them securing permanent jobs in the process”.

“That is money in the pockets of our youth”, he said.

He said from the outset, “this government had determined that Ghana would be self-sufficient in food production through our Planting for Food and Jobs programme and would add value to what we produce, as well as, create jobs along the value chain under the 1D1F programme, which has currently over 70 factories in production, with many more under various stages of construction”.

“So far, we have invested over GH¢1.85 billion in our Agriculture sector, resulting in agricultural growth which averaged about 2.0 per cent between 2014 and 2016 to an average of 5.2 over the past 3 years”, explaining: “That is putting food in abundance on the table of Ghanaians, reducing the cost of living and putting money in the pocket of over 1.2 million farmers nationwide”.

The Finance Minister said: “We have relegated ‘dumsor’ to the past. It is clear to our fellow Ghanaians by now that we have enjoyed three and half years of reliable and cheaper power. We have spent in excess of GH¢4.7 billion on capacity payments, not only to ensure that we keep the lights on, but also pay for power we do not use under very questionable contractual obligations we inherited”.

“Mr. Speaker, to modernise the economy and improve its global competitiveness, we embarked on a transformative agenda to digitise the economy. We implemented the Digital Addressing System and the National ID programmes to ensure that each Ghanaian and their dwellings as well as business locations will be uniquely identified. All these efforts are being made to formalise the economy, improve the way services are delivered to our people and increase productivity. That is digitising the lives of Ghanaians. Now, more than ever, the possibilities of the digital economy have been brought to the fore”.

Additionally, he said “to protect the public purse and advance good economic governance, we set out to fully implement the provisions of the PFM Act 2016 (Act 921), including passage of the PFM Regulations 2019, L.I. 2378 to further strengthen cash management, budget execution and budget monitoring”.

Consequently, Mr Ofori-Atta noted, “we have, for the first time in the history of our budget management, consistently published Budget Implementation reports, Medium Term Debt Strategies, Issuance calendars as well as Annual Debt reports”.

“Mr. Speaker, never in the history of our Public Financial Management have we seen this degree of openness, transparency and accountability in the management of our public finance. This has enabled citizens to hold this Government more accountable than any other in our history”.

He said while accomplishing all these, “we also set out to complete the outstanding policy measures under the derailed IMF programme which we inherited. This culminated in our exit from the IMF Extended Credit Facility in March, 2019, much to the surprise of our friends on the aisle”.

Mr Ofori-Atta told the chamber that “the previous government had the penchant of awarding contracts by heart even when they had no idea as to how to pay for them. So, to protect the public purse, my Ministry initiated and requested the Auditor-General to audit and validate the over GH¢11 billion outstanding claims which had been approved and left by the previous government to be paid. The Auditor-General validated GH¢6 billion of the GH¢11 billion claims. We await the subsequent surcharging of all those complicit in the submission of the disallowed claims from the Auditor General’s Department”.

“Mr. Speaker, I am happy to inform this Honourable House that we have paid almost GH¢5 billion of the unpaid bills which we inherited and are managing the public purse in a much more responsible manner now”.

“Mr. Speaker, this Government under President Akufo-Addo, with these actions, has amply demonstrated its commitment to prudent financial management, investing broadly and inclusively in the nation’s development, ensuring value for money and being held accountable for our actions”.

“Mr. Speaker, we have also put in place key structural measures to sustain our path towards fiscal consolidation, growth and ensure irreversibility. These include the passage of Fiscal Responsibility Act 2018 (Act 982), forging Social Partnerships with Organised Labour and Employers to enhance the quality of dialogue and implementation”.

“We have also established and operationalised the Fiscal and Financial Stability Councils to enhance the monitoring of government’s fiscal and financial policies. Mr. Speaker, furthermore, we have initiated a collaboration with Faith-Based Organisations to promote the material, moral and spiritual growth of our country. This is in recognition of the important role that Faith-Based Organisation have played and continue to play in the peace, security and development of our country”.

By Media1

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