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A briefing to aid Regional Budget Officers and District Information Officers in the dissemination of the 2014 Budget Statement and Economic Policy has been taken place in Accra.
The programme, organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), had the objective of bringing all stakeholders together to enable them have a first-hand understanding of the issues and policies stated in the budget so as to share them with others.
In a presentation on highlights from the budget, the Minister, MoFEP, Mr Seth Terpker, said the 2014 Budget Statement and Economic Policy was on the theme ‘Rising to the challenge: re-aligning the budget to meet key national priorities.’
Mr Terkper said the days when Ghana identified itself as a developing country were over since it had now attained a middle income status and that there was, therefore, the need to come up with measures to enable the country maintain that status.
He said it was for that reason that the President, Vice President and the members of the Executive were cutting their salaries by 10 per cent to be channelled into development projects.
The Finance Minister disclosed that the 2014 budget had made provisions to establish an Infrastructural Fund that would fundamentally change the mechanism for the funding and delivery of infrastructure in the country as well as reduce cost and promote more efficient delivery of capital projects.
To readjust major expenditure items towards national priority programmes, Mr Terpker disclosed that government, through the 2014 budget statement, would remove subsidies on petroleum and utilities and rollout strategies that would help sustain the payroll without spending much of the country’s revenue as had been the norm.
On debt management, he said, government would adopt escrowing and other innovative methods of debt financing and the use of long-term funds to support capital projects.
He debunked rumours that government was introducing fifteen more taxes into the system and explained that the taxes measures outlined in the budget statement were being introduced to aid the smooth running of the existing ones.
Mr Terkper said making adjustments and correcting problems did not mean the country was failing, but that those were necessary steps to enable the country become more independent.
He used the occasion to announce that the country’s economic growth had increased by eight per cent.
In his remarks, a Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Information and Media Relations (MoIMR), Mr Felix Kwakye Ofosu, said being the mouth piece of government, it was the mandate of MoIMR to inform Ghanaians on the policy statements of government and help in the better understanding of government’s vision.
He expressed the hope that the participants would be able to digest the all issues pertaining to the 2014 budget statement and the policy initiatives so that they could all contribute their quota in the re-alignment geared towards the country’s national priorities.
The Director of Budget at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Patrick Nimo, who made a presentation on the policy initiatives outlined in the budget, said the focus of the budget was to realign spending to areas were the country would reap results.
Mr Nimo said in doing that, government would ensure that wages would not take a chunk of the country’s revenue so as to channel it into other areas for development projects.
Furthermore, he said, the days when payroll audit was done once in a while were over, and that from next year, payroll audit would be done regularly to help check all the disparities in the pay policy while ensuring sustainability in the new scheme.
Mr Nimo said government would ensure that all ghost names were cleared from the payroll by making each agency to receive the payroll of those whose names were presented through appraisals and salaries paid to the right people for the jobs they did.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney & Chantal Aidoo )