The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, says government has modified the famous 2022 financial statement and economic policy to reflect some of the concerns raised by the minority legislators.
The modifications include issues the government itself has identified as far as the 2022 budget is concerned.
The Minister for Finance, who was addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday, stated that the details of the modifications had already been sent to parliament, in response to demands by stakeholders, including the minority.
The minister updated the people of Ghana on some proposals government had submitted to the House on the 2022 budget.
The proposals included the Agyapa Royalties Ltd., which he said the government would amend paragraphs 442 and 443 to take out references to mineral royalties’ collateralisation.
He said that it was important to note that, any reference to Agyapa was for informational purposes, and as such was not reflected in the fiscal framework.
GH¢10m for Keta, others
He added that in respect of the tidal waves that rendered about 3,000 people homeless in Keta, the government would make the necessary budgetary allocations of at least GH¢10 million.
He explained that the amount would be used to complete the feasibility and engineering studies for the coastal communities adversely affected.
The minister said that the government would broaden the scope of the study to consider a more comprehensive solution to protect Ghana’s 540 km of coastline, including the 149 km between Aflao and Prampram.
One of the concerns of the minority was the wording of the paragraph on Aker Energy. The minority said the paragraph did not reflect the records and decisions of the House.
Addressing the media, the finance minister indicated that, relating to the Aker Energy transaction, the government would amend paragraph 829 of the 2022 Budget on the acquisition of a stake from Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum by GNPC.
This, he said, was meant to reflect the resolution of Parliament dated July 6, 2021 that, “the terms and conditions of the loan for the acquisition of the shares shall be brought to Parliament for consideration, pursuant to Article 181 of the Constitution.
Concerning the benchmark values, the government stated that it will avoid any difficulties for importers and consumers, while protecting the interests of local manufacturing industries in order to secure and expand jobs for our people.
He explained that the administrative exercise, which reviewed 43 out of 81-line items, had the objective of promoting local manufacturing and the 1D1F policy, including the assembling of vehicles.
He said, “It is important to note that this adjustment affects only 11.4% of the total CIF value, of which 50% is for vehicles. From our analysis, the potential increase in retail prices should be relatively insignificant and, therefore, inflation should be muted.”
According to the minister, the YouStart policy will also benefit the accomplished trade with appropriate training and access to capital to become manufacturers in order to expand the industrial base of our society and the import substitution strategy, in line with the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
The main reason there seems to be no peace between the minority and the majority is the proposal for the 1.75% electronic transaction levy, otherwise called the “E-Levy.”
The minority had maintained that it was an obnoxious tax and that it would not be approved by them.
The government, on the other hand, had explained to the minority why they sought to have the minority reason with them that the government had introduced that means to expand revenue mobilisation.
At the press briefing yesterday, the minister said that on the matter of the E-levy, having regard to its serious fiscal implications, the government would continue its consultations with the Minority Caucus in Parliament and other relevant stakeholders, with a view to achieving consensus and reverting to the House in the shortest possible time.
With the House approving the budget last week, the minister indicated that the government would now move on to the urgent task of working towards the passage of the appropriation bill before parliament rises on December 17, 2021.
He said that government would work with the relevant committees of Parliament to reflect these modifications in the budget, as was the usual practice, before the Appropriation Bill was passed.
He also mentioned any other concerns that may arise during the committees’ discussions of the estimates, as is customary.
He believed that the concerns raised in Parliament on the 2022 budget should be resolved during the discussions of the budget estimates of MDAs, other government obligations and bills at the committee level.
He concluded by saying that “the national budget remains the single most effective tool to address the greatest challenges of our nation. As a country, we cannot allow such a strategic national tool to be held hostage by partisan interests, especially when the consideration stage offers every opportunity for such redress.”