2024 Budget: Economic stability topmost concern of industry, trade community

Minister Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta is expected to present the 2024 Budget in Parliament on 15 November

Ahead of the 2024 Budget presentation this month, captains of industry and trade have called for policies and programmes that will maintain economic stability in the country.

That would be key in ensuring proper planning and investing in business expansions to create more jobs for Ghanaians while paying prompt and appropriate taxes to shore up government revenue.

Fitch Solutions, a global rating agency and the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), have projected a 3% growth for Ghana by the end of 2023 on the back of recent economic recovery.

The recovery, largely attributed to the implementation of the US$3 billion loan-support programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has resulted in an average of 3.2% growth in the first two quarters of 2023.

Figures from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) have also shown a reduction in the inflation rate from 53.6% at the beginning of 2023 to 38.1% as of September 2023.

As of September 2023, the local currency, the cedi, has depreciated year-to-date cumulatively by 23.5% compared to the same period in 2022.

Nonetheless, industry and the trading communities are of the view that a reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT), removal of COVID-19 levy, and special import levy, in addition to further decline in policy rate, inflation, and cedi depreciation would create a conducive environment for businesses and trading activities.

“The stability we’re experiencing now, especially, for the first two quarters of 2023, is good for us,” Dr Joseph Obeng, president, of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency.

“Inflation has responded positively, and depreciation of the cedi has not been bad, but these are not at an appreciable level for businesses and industry to thrive,” he explained.

“As it is now, we’re looking for stability in the economy; a situation where businesses can plan, invest and retool businesses, to create the needed jobs, especially, for the teaming youth,” Dr James Asare-Adjei, chief executive Officer (CEO), Asadtek Group said.

Dr Asare-Adjei, who is also a former president, of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), noted that the current economic situation was not good for both the business and trading communities.

“Currently, we have a lot of businesses which are moving out of the country into the neighbouring economy because you have a situation where countries around us are doing single digit in interest rate and policy rate,” he said.

He said they anticipated that the 2024 budget would have a more practical outlay that would help in solving some of the key problems in the economy and make businesses grow.

At the inaugural Ghana Mutual Prosperity Dialogues organised by the government in Accra, on Thursday (2 November), Seth Twum-Akwaboah, CEO, of AGI, reiterated the call for government to create an enabling business environment.

“In creating that congenial environment, we don’t expect to see several layers of regulations that only add up to the cost of doing business,” Twum-Akwaboah said.

The government has committed to maintaining macroeconomic stability with additional measures in the 2024 budget on the back of the implementation of the post-COVID-19 Programme for Economic Growth (PC-PEG).

“For the government, the most important thing is stability – not necessarily going on a drive to acquire liabilities per say, but stability that will give confidence to other investors,” Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Information Minister explained.

At the 2023 IMF/World Bank Group Annual Meetings in Marrakech, Ken Ofori-Atta, also pledged that there would be more prudent fiscal measures in the 2024 budget to keep the macroeconomy stable.

That would ensure that inflation continued to go down and the currency remaining stable, “that’s an assurance from government that will surely happen” Ofori-Atta said.

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