The Great Expectations

Ken Ofori-Atta


In our communities these days when an event is upcoming, some residents would resort to the rendition of the song, “Biribi bƐ si.”

That means we are all expectant of a great event whose outcome nobody can determine, thus our anxieties are at fever pitch. Ghanaians have high expectations of the government Budget Statement and Economic Policy 2024 to be presented to Parliament today by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.

Faced with difficult economic circumstances, in the wake of the aftermath of COVID-19 and ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, our compatriots have every reason to expect the government to outline an economic blueprint that would loosen the rope that is suffocating majority of the people.

This year, those with investment in bonds and other securities suffered various forms of haircuts under the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP). We know what the government went through in meeting the agreement it reached with various bond holders.

Be that as it may, the government has done the best to keep the country’s head above water. Under these trying circumstances that giant economies such as South Africa and Nigeria cannot keep their lights on as they experience the John Mahama type of dumsor, the Akufo- Addo government has kept our lights on and fulfilled all statutory obligations including the payments of salaries of public sector workers.

We know times are rough for all Ghanaians but there is certainly a disconnect between the demands for salary increases and the call for a cut or total abolition of taxes.

Government workers need salary increment in order to meet the challenges of high cost of living.

Meanwhile, traders and manufacturers under the leadership of Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) and Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) have called on the government to either abolish certain taxes or reduce others in order to ease the burden of doing business.

There is the vexed issue of the COVID-19 levy and the tax on sanitary pads that various stakeholders have called on the government to take a critical look at in its budget statement today.

The government faces the dilemma of balancing its budget and at the same time meeting the numerous demands for roads and other amenities throughout the country.

The dichotomy between salary increment and the cut in taxes require that the government engages further to reach a consensus that promotes economic growth.

What we counsel is that the various interest groups must move away from their silos to the space that promotes the common good.

The government prior to the presentation of the budget engaged broadly, but in future we suggest town hall meetings where the people can make their demands, including providing solutions to our problems.

Again, some people have made demands for a cut in government expenditure and we think as part of the larger national conversation, we should be looking at that issue too.

The government should build consensus on the national economy because it is not in our interest for some of our people to sit on the fence.

We need all hands on deck to reconstruct the economy. It is sad that at this stage of our development, the NDC would want to do politics with our economy and in these their diabolical traits, they have found allies in some media houses, journalists, academia and civil society to prosecute its regime change agenda.

Their wish is that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should not approve the second tranche of its support to Ghana. However, it appears they are doomed to fail and face national condemnation as the government is focused to set the economy on the path of total recovery.

Finally, we hope the NDC Minority would desist from their usual practice of carrying placards during the presentation of the budget and allow all Ghanaians the opportunity to listen to Ofori-Atta so that they can scrutinise the government’s policies for 2024.