It’s a 2020 Budget for growth as roads roll out Featured

By Patrick Kwame Abrokwah-Djampem November 15, 2019 21493 7682 comments

A lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Kennedy Abrokwa, has described the 2020 Budget as “positive”.

The economist said the outcomes it seeks to achieve are based on the fiscal discipline, commitment to good governance and willingness to tackle development challenges shown by the Akufo-Addo government during its three years in office.

Dr Abrokwa cited the government’s insistence on not borrowing too much from domestic financial institutions, and said this commitment has resulted in stability of interest rates.

Fiscal discipline

“When government is disciplined in its revenue management and expenditure base, there is positive reflection in all sectors of the economy,” he said.

The successes Ghana has achieved in the short period since the government came into power emanate from the fact that export earnings are rising, with the resulting stability of the cedi.

He mentioned cocoa and oil as two major sources of export earnings which are cushioning the economy.

Overall growth

“Crude oil production is going up, manufacturing is picking up, agriculture is picking up and we need to intensify processing and strengthen our processing base,” Dr Abrokwa said.

He also advocated a lower bank lending rate to enable businesses to go into production and manufacturing and reduce dependence on exports of raw materials.

Dr Abrokwa commended the government for the revamping the cocoa sector in its quest to add value to Ghana’s prime agricultural export commodity by processing the beans locally with a capital injection of $600 million from the African Development Bank.

His comments, made on an Accra-based radio discussion programme The National Agenda, came a day after the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, presented his 2020 Budget statement to Parliament.

Fixing roads

Meanwhile, government has announced that Ghana’s major roads will finally undergo some expansion and rehabilitation before the end of this year, but with the bulk of work to begin in 2020, Finance Minister.

The Finance Minister confirmed the announcement early this week by Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia that the first phase of the Sinohydro barter arrangement will take off to launch the construction of 150 new roads nationwide.

National chorus

“Ghanaians want action on our roads, not words or plans or Green Book claims about what has been done,” Mr Ofori-Atta said. “We intend to swing into action and let our work do the talking for us.”

Many roads are reportedly in bad shape and, according to statistics from the Ministry of Roads and Highways, of the total network of more than 780,000 kilometres under the ministry’s portfolio, only 27 per cent are paved.

The paved network includes trunk, feeder and urban roads; 41 per cent of the total network is in good condition.

NDC’s poor legacy

The Finance Minister said the challenges in the road sector are enormous, and despite the euphoria surrounding the alleged achievements in the sector by the previous government, the Akufo-Addo government inherited poor networks and bad roads the length and breadth of Ghana, as well as a huge accumulated debt.

The government has said that to get the sector moving and contractors back to work, it will pay 80 per cent of all contractors to enable them to recommence work.

“We have identified critical roads across each of the 16 regions and construction would begin on all these critical roads soon,” said Mr Ofori-Atta.

In addition, the Finance Minister disclosed that COCOBOD has secured funds to continue ongoing and new work on cocoa roads which is expected to commence soon.

It will be recalled that during the 2018 Mid-Year Review, the Minister signaled the government’s engagement with Sinohydro Corporation Ltd in a barter arrangement, leveraging on proceeds from refined bauxite in exchange for execution of various infrastructure projects in Ghana.

Subsequently, by a resolution dated 28/07/2018, Parliament approved the Master Project Support Agreement (MPSA) between Sinohydro Corporation and the Government of Ghana, dated May 16 2018, for construction of selected priority infrastructure projects.

Green light

“I am delighted to announce that we have received communication from Sinohydro that they have achieved financial closure for the first phase of projects under the Sinohydro MPSA, with Sinosure issuing insurance cover for the initial four lots (Tamale Interchange, Prestea and Cape Coast inner-city roads, selected feeder roads in the Ashanti and Western Regions and the Hohoe-Jasikan-Dodo Pepesu road),” the Minister announced.

“While there has been a significant amount of work done on the Tamale Interchange, the sod-cutting for Prestea and Cape Coast inner-city roads, selected feeder roads in the Ashanti and Western Regions and the Hohoe-Jasikan-Dodo Pepesu road will be done by end of November for work to commence in earnest,” he said.

“Evaluation of the remaining six lots is almost completed and work is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2020.”

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