Accra, July 31, GNA – Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, on Monday presented the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy to Parliament in accordance with Section 28 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016, (Act 921).
The Ghana News Agency, hereby, publishes the full text of the Budget Review Statement as presented by the Minister.
SECTION ONE: INTRODUCTION
1. Right Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members of Parliament, in accordance with Section 28 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), I stand before this august House, to present a Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2017 Budget. The 2017 Mid-Year Review is the first under the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).
2. Mr. Speaker, before I proceed to make this presentation, I wish to convey our heartfelt appreciation to this august House, on behalf of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for the cooperation and support of Honourable Members in the management of the economy over the past few months. It is our expectation that we continue to strengthen this relationship towards the achievement of our collective development goals.
3. Mr. Speaker on the 2nd of March 2017, I stood before this honourable House to present to you the President’s first Budget Statement, “The Asempa Budget” which brought hope back to Ghanaians and sowed the seeds for growth, prosperity and jobs.
4. After the approval of the budget on 31st March 2017, we went to work “in a hurry” and the signs are clear on the progress we have made so far.
5. Mr. Speaker, because of the prudent economic policies, improved fiscal discipline and competent management of the economy, the macro-indicators for the first half of the year are pointing in the right direction. Typical of the strengthening performance is the fact that for the first six months of the new Akufo-Addo government, both the fiscal deficit and primary balance outperformed their targets. The exchange rate is stabilizing, inflationary pressures have eased and interest rates are trending downwards. Progressively, confidence is being restored in the economy and we are confident that this positive trend will be sustained in the months and years ahead.
6. Mr. Speaker, through the cooperation of this august House, for which we are very grateful, we passed the Income Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 941); the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Act, 2017 (Act 943); the Special Import Levy (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 944); the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 946); Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 948), and the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Act, 2017 (Act 947), Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 942) and Customs (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 949)
7. Mr. Speaker as a result and in fulfilment of the President’s promise, Government has:
* abolished the 1 percent Special Import Levy which was imposed mainly on imported raw materials and machinery;
* abolished the 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on financial services;
* abolished the 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL imposed on airline tickets;
* abolished the excise duty on petroleum to reduce the excess burden on final consumers;
* reduced the special petroleum tax rate from 17.5 percent to 15 percent to mitigate the excess burden on final consumers;
* abolished the 5 percent VAT flat rate on the sale of real estate;
* abolished import duty on spare parts;
* exempted from tax, the gains from realization of securities listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange;
* reviewed the ESLA to reduce the cost of power and reduced the National Electrification Scheme Levy from 5 percent to 3 percent; and the Public Lighting Levy from 5 percent to 2 percent;
* replaced the 17.5 percent standard rate with the 3 percent flat VAT/NHIL rate for supplies by retailers and wholesalers; and
* Capped earmarked funds to 25 percent of tax revenue.
8. Mr. Speaker, we will be coming back to Parliament this week to lay the Regulations to abolish the 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on selected imported medicines, which are currently not produced locally.
9. Mr. Speaker, with this background and in accordance with the PFM Act, my presentation of this Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review will focus on the following broad thematic areas:
* an overview of recent macroeconomic developments;
* an update of macroeconomic forecasts contained in the 2017 budget;
* an analysis of the total revenue, expenditure and financing performance;
* a presentation of a revised 2017 macro-fiscal framework and the implication of the revised budget outlook for the Medium-Term Fiscal and Expenditure Framework; and
* Key highlights of 2017 budget implementation.
SECTION TWO: OVERVIEW OF RECENT MACROECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS
Updates on Macroeconomic Developments in 2016
10. Mr. Speaker, in the 2017 Budget, we provided information on macro-fiscal developments for the 2016 fiscal year. We, however, now have updated information which has resulted in the revision of some of the macro-fiscal variables for 2016. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, let me provide updates on these macroeconomic indicators.
11. Provisional data released by the Ghana Statistical Service in April, 2017 show that real GDP growth for 2016 was 3.5 percent, against the provisional estimate of 3.6 percent reported in the 2017 budget and lower than the 3.8 percent recorded for 2015, the lowest in over fifteen years. The Services sector, which though was the best growth performer in 2016, recorded a growth of barely 5.7 percent, followed by the Agriculture sector, growing at 3.0 percent and the Industry Sector which contracted by 1.4 percent. The economy we inherited Mr. Speaker, was severely impaired.
12. Mr. Speaker, the slowdown in growth in 2016 was largely underpinned by a substantial contraction in the Cocoa sub-sector (-7.0%) and the Petroleum sub-sector (-16.9%). The decline in the Petroleum sub-sector was largely because of the downtime that occurred because of damage to the turret bearing of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah.
13. The Services sector increased its share of GDP from 54.6 percent in 2015 to 56.9 percent in 2016. Over the same period, the share of Industry declined from 25.1 percent to 24.2 percent, while that of Agriculture also declined from 20.3 percent to 18.9 percent. The revised 2016 GDP data is presented as Appendix Table 1.
14. Mr. Speaker, on the fiscal front, updated information shows that the end-2016 fiscal deficit was worse than previously estimated, at 9.3 percent of GDP compared to the provisional figure of 8.7 percent of GDP on cash basis at the time of presenting the 2017 Budget. The deficit on commitment basis is now at 10.9 percent of GDP up from the 10.3 percent previously reported. This revision has been occasioned by the reversal of interest payment on a non-marketable instrument that fell due at end-2016 but recorded as part of 2017 flows, as well as the revision of the 2016 GDP by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) in April 2017.
15. Mr. Speaker, the interest payment reversed in 2016 amounted to GH?758.5 million and the 2016 nominal GDP was revised from GH?168.73 billion to Gh?167.31 billion. The revised 2016 fiscal table is presented in Appendix Table 2.
16. Mr. Speaker, in recent years the country has unfortunately accumulated a large amount of debt which resulted in the country being at a high risk of debt distress and putting our economic development in jeopardy. From a debt stock of GH¢9.5 billion at the end of 2008, it increased to GH¢122.3 billion at the end of 2016 (an increase of debt stock by 1,154%). The debt servicing payments arising from this legacy of debt accumulation amounts to some 45 percent of total domestic revenue. Unfortunately, our economy would have to live with this burden for some time as we make efforts to repair the damage. The revised 2016 nominal GDP of GH¢167.3 billion, puts the public debt-to-GDP ratio at 73.1 percent of GDP against the 72.5 percent reported in the 2017 Budget presented to this House earlier in March this year.
17. Mr. Speaker, we inherited a weak economy characterized by:
* high fiscal deficit (9.3% of GDP on a cash basis against a target of 5% on cash basis);
* a primary deficit of 1.4 percent of GDP against a target surplus of 1.2 percent
* high debt-to-GDP ratio (73.1% of GDP);
* high inflation (15.4%);
* low credit to the private sector;
* high interest rate (91-TB rate: 16.4%);
* weak domestic revenue mobilization;
* low external Reserves of 2.8 months of Import Cover;
* policy reversals including some unconstrained expenditures (Gh¢7bn of outstanding commitments and undischarged obligations); and
* weak economic growth (3.5%, lowest in fifteen years)
Recent Macroeconomic Developments in 2017
18. Mr. Speaker, consistent with Section 28(2) (c) of Act 921, we will now present macro-fiscal developments up to the first half of 2017. In cases where January-June 2017 data are not available, we will provide the latest available data.
19. Mr. Speaker, to put the performance of the economy in the first half of 2017 into perspective, it will be useful to remind ourselves of the macroeconomic targets we set for ourselves for the 2017 fiscal year based on the overall macroeconomic objectives of Government.
20. Consistent with our medium-term development priorities, the macroeconomic framework for 2017 aims at ensuring macroeconomic stability, shifting the focus of economic management from taxation to production, protecting the preferential option for the poor and making the machinery of government work to deliver the benefits of progress for all Ghanaians. Anchored on the medium term macroeconomic framework, the specific macroeconomic targets set for 2017 were as follows:
* overall GDP growth rate of 6.3 percent;
* non-oil GDP growth rate of 4.6 percent;
* end-year inflation rate of 11.2 percent;
* average inflation rate of 12.4 percent;
* overall fiscal deficit of 6.5 percent of GDP;
* primary surplus of 0.4 percent of GDP; and
* Gross Foreign Assets to cover at least 3 months of imports of goods and services.
21. Mr. Speaker, we promised to stabilize the economy in a sustainable manner, while accelerating growth and creating prosperity and jobs for all. The macro-fiscal performance we have achieved in the first six months of President Akufo-Addo’s administration is showing remarkable progress. The major macroeconomic indicators are now trending in the right direction indicating that the economy is on track.
22. Mr. Speaker, developments from January up to June 2017, indicate that the President’s policies and programmes are yielding the expected results, and, in some case exceeding expectations.:
* The GDP for first quarter of 2017 grew by 6.6 percent against 4.4 percent for the same period in 2016;
* Inflation reduced to 12.1 percent at the end of June 2017, from 15.4 percent at end December 2016;
* Interest rates are on the decline. For example, the 91-day treasury bill rates have reduced from 16.4 percent at end 2016 to 12.08 percent at end June 2017;
* The fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP for the period January-June 2017 was 2.7 percent compared with a deficit of 4.0 percent over the same period in 2016;
* The primary surplus for January-June 2017 was 0.6 percent of GDP compared to a deficit of 1.3 percent over the same period in 2016; and
* The Gross International Reserves at the end of June 2017 was US$5.9 billion, the equivalent of 3.4 months of import cover, up from US$4.9 billion at the end of December 2016 (equivalent to 2.8 months of import cover).
23. Mr. Speaker, these indicators clearly show that the economy is on the path of recovery and investor confidence has been restored. Additionally, the business and consumer confidence surveys by the Bank of Ghana conducted in June 2017 broadly reflects positive sentiments in the direction of the economy as noted in the July edition of the Bank of Ghana’s MPC press release.
24. Mr. Speaker, based on the significant progress that has been made in macroeconomic stability and improvements in real GDP growth, the Fitch Rating Agency, on 12th May 2017, revised its outlook on Ghana’s long term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) from Negative to Stable and affirmed the country’s IDR at B. We are optimistic that we will sustain the gains made in macroeconomic stability and instil more confidence in the economy for both domestic and international investors.
25. Mr. Speaker, permit me to delve into the details of the macro-fiscal performance for the period under review.
26. Mr. Speaker, provisional data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) show that the overall real GDP growth (year-on-year) for the first quarter of 2017 was 6.6 percent, an increase from 4.4 percent registered for the same quarter of 2016. The Industry sector recorded the highest and impressive growth of 11.5 percent, up from 1.8 percent in the same quarter of 2016. The Agriculture sector recorded a growth of 7.6 percent, compared with 5.0 percent recorded over the same period in 2016. The Services Sector recorded a modest growth of 3.7 percent, compared with 6.6 percent in the same period of 2016, as shown in Appendix Table 3.
27. Mr. Speaker, the performance in the Industry Sector was largely driven by the Mining and Quarrying (which includes Petroleum) sub-sector, which had contracted over the corresponding period in 2016. Underpinning the year-on-year improvement in Agriculture was a strong growth performance in Crops and Cocoa, and a substantially improved performance in the Fisheries sub-sector. The year-on-year slowdown in growth of the Services sector reflects a corresponding slowdown in growth of the key subsectors of Information and Communication, and Finance and Insurance.
28. In nominal terms, the first quarter 2017 GDP at current prices was GH¢44.7 billion, compared with GH¢36.5 billion for the corresponding period in 2016. In real terms, these translate into GH¢8.6 billion and GH¢8.0 billion for first quarter 2017 and 2016 respectively. [EA1]
29. Mr. Speaker, headline inflation consistently declined from 15.4 percent in December 2016 to 12.1 percent in June 2017. The consecutive decline in inflation during the period was broad-based with food and non-food inflation declining. Food inflation went down from 9.7 percent in December 2016 to 6.2 percent in June 2017, while non-food inflation declined from 18.2 percent to 15.1 percent over the same period. The observed disinflation process was influenced largely by monetary policy tightness, fiscal discipline and stability in the exchange rate.
Monetary, Credit, and Financial Markets
30. Mr. Speaker, broad money supply (M2+) expanded by 23.7 percent in May 2017, in comparison with 16.8 percent a year ago. All the components of M2+ grew at higher pace in May 2017 compared with May 2016. Total outstanding credit stood at GH¢365 billion at the end of May 2017, of which the private sector accounted for 86.5 percent. Outstanding credit to the private sector recorded an annual growth of 16.2 percent in May 2017 against 10.1 percent a year earlier.
31. Mr. Speaker,interest rates have responded to government’s economic policies and are now trending downwards. The Bank of Ghana reduced its Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 450 basis points from January to July 2017: 200 basis points (bps) from 25.5 percent to 23.5 percent in March 2017, by 100 basis points in May to 22.5 percent, and further by 150 basis points to 21 percent in July 2017. The trend of lower interest rates we are seeing is in direct response to the equally consistent declines in headline inflation and inflation expectations, and the general improvements in the macroeconomic fundamentals. In response, the average interest rates on the 91-day bill has declined since December 2016 from 16.81 percent to 12.10 percent in June 2017 while the rates on the 182-day Treasury-bill rate fell from 18.5 percent in December 2016 to 13.28 percent in June 2017.
32. Mr. Speaker, the period under review witnessed a turn-around on the Stock Exchange, reflecting growing investor confidence in the economy. The Ghana Stock Exchange Composite Index (GSE-CI) closed at 1,964.6 points in June 2017, from 1,689.1 points in December 2016, gaining 16.3 percent on a year-to-date basis. Total market capitalization increased to GH¢59.5 billion in June 2017 from GH¢52.7 billion in December 2016, representing a year-to-date growth of 12.9 percent. The increase was due to higher trade volumes and share prices. Sectors that recorded market capitalisation gains were Oil, Food and Beverages, Agriculture, Finance, Distribution, Information Technology, and Manufacturing sub-sectors.
33. Mr. Speaker, global developments continue to impact on the country’s external sector performance. Provisional estimates show that the trade account recorded a surplus of US$1,429 million for the first half of 2017 due to a significant increase in export earnings combined with lower imports. This compares to an almost equivalent deficit of US$1,403.7 million over the same period in 2016.
34. Merchandise exports increased by 39.7 percent from a deficit of US$727.7 million same period last year to US$7.2 billion for the Jan-June 2017 period reflecting higher gold and crude oil export earnings. On the other hand, merchandise imports reduced by 14.2 percent to US$5.7 billion, mainly on account of decreases in both oil and non-oil imports.
35. Mr. Speaker, the Ghana cedi remains relatively stable on the back of Ghana’s improved external payments position, improved market sentiments, the positive impact of fiscal consolidation, and increased foreign exchange inflows since mid-March 2017.
36. Since March 2017, the exchange rate has been fairly stable on the back of government’s economic policies. This has been supported by improved liquidity, the emerging trade surplus and increased reserves. In the Inter-Bank Market, the Ghana cedi depreciated on cumulative basis by 3.7 percent, 8.3 percent and 10.8 percent against the US dollar, the pound sterling and the euro respectively by end-June 2017.
37. Mr. Speaker, the country’s Gross International Reserves improved markedly from a stock position of US$4.9 billion at the end of December 2016, which could cover 2.8 months of imports, to US$5.9 billion in June 2017, sufficient cover for 3.4 months of imports.
SECTION THREE: PROVISIONAL FISCAL PERFORMANCE FOR JANUARY-JUNE 2017
38. Mr. Speaker, fiscal policy in the 2017 Budget was designed to restore confidence in the economy, ensure fiscal and debt sustainability and promote overall macroeconomic stability. Preliminary fiscal data for the period indicates that:
* the overall fiscal deficit was 2.7 percent of GDP against a target of 3.5 percent;
* the primary balance for the period was a surplus of 0.6 percent of GDP against a targeted deficit of 0.01 percent;
* the lower than programmed deficit resulted from both revenues and expenditures falling below their respective targets;
* Total Revenue and Grants fell below target by 14.9 percent; and
* Total expenditure (incl. the clearance of arrears) was consequently aligned to match revenue inflows and thus was below target by 16.7 percent.
39. Mr. Speaker, Total Revenue and Grants for the period amounted to GH¢17.5 billion (8.6 percent of GDP) against a target of GH¢20.5 billion (10.1 percent of GDP). In nominal terms, the provisional outturn was 6.5 percent higher than the outturn during the same period in 2016, as shown in Appendix Table 4.
40. Mr. Speaker, total Domestic Revenue, comprising all categories of tax and non-tax revenues amounted to GH¢16.9 billion. Of this amount, total tax revenue (including upstream petroleum receipts) was GH¢13.7 billion, against a target of GH¢15.7 billion. The provisional outturn was 13.1 percent lower than the target of GH¢15.7 billion. Upstream petroleum receipts amounted to GH¢342.9 million, against a target of GH¢319.3 million; of which, GH¢115.65 million was from Corporate Income Taxes.
41. Mr. Speaker, revenue performance after the passage of the Budget at the end of March 2017 has seen much improvement compared to the first quarter. Tax revenue performance is expected to improve in the coming months as economic agents assimilate the new tax policy measures and the tax compliance measures to stop leakages, yield results.
42. Mr. Speaker, taxes on Income and Property and International Trade accounted for about 47 percent and 33 percent of the total shortfall in tax revenue respectively. The remaining 20 percent was accounted for by the shortfall in taxes on Domestic Goods and Services.
43. Mr. Speaker, a slower level of economic activity in the services sectors of the economy impacted Income taxes while lower import volumes led to lower revenues from International Trade taxes.
44. Grant disbursements from development partners amounted to GH¢808.4 million and was 20.6 percent lower than the budget target of GH¢1.0 billion. In nominal terms, the outturn was 27.9 percent higher than the outturn during the same period in 2016.
Total Expenditure and Arrears Clearance
45. Mr. Speaker, Total Expenditure, including payments for the clearance of arrears amounted to GH¢23.0 billion (11.3 percent of GDP), against a target of GH¢27.6 billion (13.6 percent of GDP). Budget allotments for the period, were reviewed to match the revenue inflows to ensure that our fiscal objectives and targets were not derailed.
46. Wages and salaries for the period amounted to GH¢6.8 billion (3.4 percent of GDP) which was within the target of GH¢6.9 billion.
47. Mr. Speaker, expenditures on the use of Goods & Services amounted to GH¢854.6 million (0.4 percent of GDP) against the target of GH¢1.4 billion (0.7 percent of GDP). This represents 61.4 percent of programmed target for the period.
48. Interest payments amounted to GH¢6.7 billion (3.3 percent of GDP) against a target of GH¢7.1 billion (3.5 percent of GDP), 5.5 percent lower than the target. Mr. Speaker, our liability management programme including re-profiling (extending maturity profile of domestic debt by issuing longer-dated instruments to replace shorter-dated instruments thereby reducing annual debt servicing cost and roll over risk) is expected to provide provisional savings of GH¢612 million. Domestic interest payment for the period amounted to GH¢5.3 billion against a target of GH¢5.7 billion, indicating potential savings of GH¢374.6 million for the period, arising mainly from the re-profiling of maturing domestic debt.
49. Mr. Speaker, Grants to Other Government Units, which includes the transfers made to Statutory and earmarked Funds, fell below target mainly because of lower domestic revenues.
50. Mr. Speaker, Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) amounted to GH¢2.4 billion (1.2 percent of GDP), 81.8 percent of the period target of GH¢2.9 billion (1.4 percent of GDP), Foreign-Financed Capital spending was, however, higher than target due mainly to improved project loan disbursements.
Overall Budget Balance and Financing
51. Mr. Speaker, the cash fiscal deficit of GH¢5.6 billion (2.7 percent of GDP) compared to GH¢6.7 billion (4.0 percent of GDP) recorded in the same period in 2016. This was financed mainly from domestic sources and included a draw down on government deposits with the Bank of Ghana. Total net Domestic Financing amounted to GH¢5.5 billion, while net Foreign Financing amounted to GH¢76.8 million.
52. Mr. Speaker, the primary balance recorded a surplus of 0.6 percent of GDP, against a target deficit of 0.01 percent, an indication that our fiscal effort is on track. This should ensure a lower rate of debt accumulation.
53. Mr. Speaker, petroleum receipts in the first half of 2017 amounted to US$277.79 million, compared to the end-year projection of US$515.57 million. The revenue accrued from the Ghana Group’s 1st and 2nd Tweneboah-Enyerah-Ntomme (TEN) liftings, as well as the 35th-37th Jubilee Fields liftings. The proceeds for the 1st TEN and 35th Jubilee liftings, undertaken in December 2016 were received in the first quarter of 2017.
54. Royalties from the Jubilee and TEN Fields for the first half of the year amounted to US$67.68 million, while Carried and Participating Interest amounted to US$182.13 million. Other petroleum revenue sources included corporate income tax (US$27.34 million), Surface Rentals (US$0.49 million) and Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF) income of US$0.17 million.
55. Mr. Speaker, of the amount received, a total of US$90.90 million has been transferred to GNPC in respect of Equity Financing Cost (US$51.81 million) and its share of the net Carried and Participating Interest (US$39.10 million). The balance was transferred to the ABFA (US$117.74 million) and the Ghana Petroleum Funds (US$78.25 million). Of the amount transferred to the Ghana Petroleum Funds, US$23.48 million and US$54.78 million were transferred to the Ghana Heritage Fund and the Ghana Stabilisation Fund, respectively.
Developments in Public Debt
56. Mr. Speaker, in nominal terms, the gross public debt stock stood at a provisional figure of GH¢138.5 billion (US$ 31.7 billion) as at end June 2017. The stock comprised external and domestic debt of GH¢74.6 billion (US$ 17.1 billion) and GH¢ 63.9 billion (US$ 14.6 billion) respectively. Mr. Speaker, contrary to the annual average rate of debt accumulation of 36.7 percent per annum over the last eight years, the rate of accumulation over the last six months is only about 13.3 percent.
57. Mr. Speaker, as of end March 2017, the debt-to-GDP ratio was estimated to be 70.9 percent and given the current trend, we expect the ratio to be around 71.0 percent by the end of the year, once all the effects of this year’s debt re-profiling have materialised.
58. Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that while we do not expect the debt reprofiling to add to the existing stock of debt, it is expected, however, that the stock of debt should increase marginally by the already programmed net financing of this year’s budget deficit.
Debt management strategy
59. Mr. Speaker, the Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy (MTDS) for 2017-2019 is in fulfilment of Section 59 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), and is the first to be prepared under the Act.
60. Mr. Speaker, the chosen strategy is in line with the debt management objectives of borrowing at a minimum cost and maintaining a prudent degree of risk while helping to develop the domestic capital market. It envisages increased interest by non-resident investors in the domestic bond market. Government intends to lower borrowing cost, minimize the growth of short-term domestic debt and lengthen the maturity profile of domestic debt under the re-profiling programme. The net result of this strategy should reduce the rollover/refinancing risk and broaden the range of instruments offered in the domestic market. It is important to recognize that re-profiling does not add to public debt and it remains our expectation that this august House, especially, will be united in supporting Government efforts to re-profile a significant proportion of our national debt stock.
Liability Management and the Re-Profiling Programme
61. Mr. Speaker, the re-profiling programme of domestic debt, which involved extension of tenor and issuance of longer dated bonds, has been largely successful. We issued the first 15-year bond in April and issued a second 7-year bond. Provisional interest savings arising from Government implementation of the liability management programme by re-profiling domestic debt is estimated at GH¢612 million for 2017.This re-profiling will not add to the debt stock by year-end but rather replaces existing debt as per the gross financing requirements.
62. Mr. Speaker, over the past few years, as a result of a culmination of a chronically high and rising public debt and unsustainable debt burdens, risks such as roll-over and refinancing our debt has confronted us as a country.
63. Mr. Speaker, for example, on a weekly basis, about GH¢1 billion of already contracted domestic debt was maturing. In fact, that means about GH¢4 billion of domestic debt matures per month at a time when our tax revenue per month is just about an average of GH¢ 2.2 billion. This then meant that we would have had a problem of refinancing this maturity. We would have had to stop salary payments and all government expenditures for the 2017 fiscal year, in order to pay back this debt. Even that one would still would not have been enough as it barely covers 50 percent of the maturing bill.
64. Consequently, Government chose the option of reprofiling the maturing domestic debt because the domestic debt more so than the external debt posed the greatest risk to the debt portfolio at this time.
65. Therefore, the strategy for 2017 was to issue long-term bonds which have an elongated tenure instead of 91-day Treasury bills which are issued on a weekly basis and as such mature on a weekly basis. The reprofiling replaces these short-term maturing bills with a new long-term domestic loan.
66. Consequently, we issued about GH¢9.0 billion to reprofile the maturing domestic debt. This amount is different from the regular budget financing of the deficit. As this amount is replacing already existing debt and future maturing debt, it means that, the reprofiling transaction does not add on to the domestic debt.
67. The benefits so far have been instrumental for macroeconomic stability. There has been a reduction in the mix of short to long-term loans. The stock of the 91-day bill declined on a cumulative basis by about 7.95 percent and 13.95 percent for first and second quarters, respectively. On the other hand, the 182-day bill also declined cumulatively by about 17.57 percent and 34.27 percent for first and second quarters, respectively. This is good news as it would reduce the pressure to refinance the monthly GH¢4 billion maturities of domestic bond.
68. A major expected impact from the reprofiling operation is a reduction in interest rates. Over the period under review, interest rates on all marketable instruments have declined significantly despite the relatively high monetary policy. The 91-day T Bill rate has fallen significantly from 16.73 percent in 2016 to around 11.93 percent in June 2017. The 182-day T-bill rate has also declined from 17.64 percent in December 2016 to around 12.9 percent as at end of June 2017. The 1 year, 2 Year, 3 Year and 5 Year Bonds all declined from 21.00 percent, 22.50 percent, 24.00 percent and 24.75 percent as at end 2016 to 15.00 percent, 17.00 percent, 18.50 percent and 18.75 percent respectively.
69. The reprofiling has also led to an extension of Tenor with the Issuance of the first 15-year bond and is currently the longest dated Domestic Bond. As at last year, the longest dated domestic bond was 10 years. In addition, a second 7-year bond was issued in April 2017.
70. The yield curve at the primary issuance of domestic bonds has also improved significantly compared to the trend in recent years.
71. Following the reprofiling exercise, the savings from interest cost is estimated at GH¢612 million.
72. Mr. Speaker, this is a significant performance, considering that interest payments have been increasing in recent times.
Energy Sector Legacy Debt
73. Mr. Speaker, the huge pile up of arrears in the Energy sector continues to impact negatively on our economy. It stifles the capacity of players in the power sector to keep our lights on; it denies the banks liquidity, and, in all, frustrates economic activity and growth. That was why streamlining the Energy Sector legacy debt was made a priority policy initiative in the 2017 Budget Statement. As indicated, revenue streams from the Energy Sector Levies Act (ESLA) will be used to ensure certainty of cash flows for the payment of all corresponding debts.
74. Mr. Speaker, in this regard, two Joint Lead Managers (JLM) have been appointed to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to issue a domestic medium-to-long term Energy Bond by securitizing the ESLA receivables.
Implementation of the Credit Risk Assessment Framework
75. Mr. Speaker, as stated in the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of government, the financial state of SOEs continues to be of concern. Government has started the implementation of Credit Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF) in observance of the provisions of the PFM Law. This framework helps to determine, largely, the ability of SOEs to repay their debt obligations.
76. In this regard, SOEs seeking government support in the form of guarantee and/or on-lending facilities are evaluated through the CRAF framework before any request is granted. The implementation of this measure is to ensure that SOEs will remain creditworthy over the medium to long term after the restructuring of the energy sector debts.
SECTION FOUR: REVISED 2017 MACRO-FISCAL FRAMEWORK
77. Mr. Speaker, since the presentation and approval of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy by this august House in March, there have been some developments, both externally and domestically which have necessitated a revision in the 2017 Fiscal Framework. Consistent with section 28(2)(D) of PFM Act, we present the revised budget for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year.
78. The revised assumptions for the 2017 Mid-Year Review, relate specifically to non-oil tax revenues and non-oil related expenditures.
79. Mr. Speaker, following the performance of non-oil tax revenues for the first six months of the year, the assumptions underlying the projections for some tax types, namely, Corporate Income Tax (CIT), Import VAT and Import Duty are being revised. Together, these amount to GH¢1.5 billion (0.7 percent of GDP).
80. Mr. Speaker, these revisions have mainly been informed by lower than anticipated Corporate taxes and lower import volumes for the first six months of the year. Even though the trend is expected to improve, we still find it prudent to revise the projections downwards.
81. Mr. Speaker, unlike the practice in the recent past where government expenditures have actually increased in the face of declining revenues we are now in a regime where spending is based on recognised revenues and expected receipts.
82. To ensure that we do not compromise our fiscal consolidation objectives and targets, expenditures are planned to match the downward revision in revenues. The downward revision in revenues and expenditures as well as reclassification of inflows from the sale of shares have resulted in the revision of the fiscal deficit target from 6.5 percent of GDP to 6.3 percent. These revisions are consistent with our fiscal and debt sustainability objectives. Mr. Speaker, being mindful of the high debt burden which has arisen largely because of high fiscal deficits in the past, the revision of the fiscal deficit further demonstrates our commitment to fiscal discipline.
83. Mr. Speaker, going forward we will strengthen the implementation of revenue measures to ensure that we meet our revised revenue targets. To ensure that the fiscal objectives and targets are not compromised, we will make the necessary downward adjustment to discretionary expenditures in the event that we are not able to meet our revenue targets.
Revisions to Total Revenue and Grants, and Expenditure
84. Mr. Speaker, Total Revenue and Grants has been revised downwards by 0.9 percent of GDP from GH¢44.5 billion to GH¢43.1 billion. As earlier stated, the revision to total Revenue and Grants emanates from revisions made to Corporate Income Tax, Import VAT, Import duty as well as the reclassification of expected non-tax revenue inflows from the sale of government shares of GH¢500 million as financing.
85. Mr. Speaker, total Expenditure has also been revised downwards by 1.1 percent of GDP from GH¢58.1 billion to GH¢55.9 billion, as shown in Appendix Table 5. The key revisions to expenditures include:
* 0.4 percent of GDP (GH¢867.0 million) adjustment to Goods and Services;
* 0.3 percent of GDP (GH¢553.2 million) reduction in total transfers to Other Government Units, which comprise all statutory and earmarked funds; and
* 0.3 percent of GDP (GH¢683.0 million) adjustment to Capital expenditure.
86. Mr. Speaker, despite the measures being taken to ensure that we maintain fiscal discipline, government remains strongly committed to growing the economy and delivering services to our people through strategic allocation and efficient use of resources. Our flagship programmes such as the Free SHS, NHIS, School Feeding, LEAP, Planting for Food and Jobs etc. will be protected.
Overall Balance and Financing
87. Mr. Speaker, following these adjustments, the overall fiscal balance is expected to improve from a deficit of GH¢13.2 billion (6.5 percent of GDP) to GH¢12.8 billion (6.3 percent of GDP).
88. Total financing of the deficit will comprise a net foreign repayment of GH¢1.3 billion while Net Domestic Financing (NDF) will amount to GH¢14.1 billion.
89. Mr. Speaker, the resulting primary balance from the adjustments in revenue, expenditures, and financing is a primary surplus equivalent to 0.2 percent of GDP.
Gross Domestic Product
90. Mr. Speaker, even though the projected real GDP growth of 6.3 percent for 2017 has not been revised, the nominal GDP has been revised downwards from GH¢203.41 billion to GH¢202.01 billion, reflecting mainly the revision of the deflator downwards.
91. Mr. Speaker, based on the above considerations, the revised macroeconomic targets are summarised below:
* Overall GDP growth rate is maintained at 6.3 percent with nominal GDP revised slightly to GH¢202.01 billion from the original projection of GH¢203.41 billion;
* non-oil GDP growth rate maintained at 4.6 percent;
* end-year inflation rate is maintained at 11.2 percent;
* overall fiscal deficit has been revised downwards from 6.5 percent of GDP to 6.3 percent of GDP;
* primary balance has been revised from a surplus of 0.4 percent of GDP to a surplus of 0.2 percent of GDP; and
* Gross Foreign Assets to cover at least 3 months of imports of goods and services, remains the same as originally programmed.
92. Mr. Speaker, these revisions are consistent with government’s resolve to grow the economy and create jobs while maintaining macroeconomic stability through fiscal discipline and prudent economic policies. We will strengthen our collaboration with the private sector to address issues such as tax, energy, and cost of credit that impede their growth and expansion.
93. Mr. Speaker, as a demonstration of our commitment to fiscal discipline, government has taken a decision to introduce a numerical fiscal rule to guide the implementation of fiscal policy. In this regard, we will bring to this house an amendment to the PFMA to limit the fiscal deficit within a range of 3 to 5 percent of GDP for any fiscal year.
SECTION FIVE: IMPLEMENTATION HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2017 BUDGET
94. Mr. Speaker, please permit me to now provide you with updates on implementation of some of the major programmes for the 2017 fiscal year.
Planting for Food and Jobs Programme
95. Mr. Speaker, in fulfilment of our promise to Ghanaians, we launched the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme to increase production, ensure food security as well as create jobs. As at June, 2017, about 185,907 farmers, out of a total of 200,000 farmers targeted for the 2017 cropping season, were registered. The farmers are being provided with seeds, fertilizers and extension services to improve their yields.
96. During the same period, a total of 56,028 bags of improved seeds of maize, rice, soybean and sorghum, as well as 22,904 sachets of onions, tomatoes and pepper were distributed to beneficiary farmers across the 10 regions of Ghana. An additional 16,808 bags of improved seeds of maize, rice, soybean and sorghum, and 22,968 sachets of onions, pepper and tomatoes will be distributed before the end of the year.
97. Mr. Speaker, over 1,896 hectares of maize, rice, soybean, sorghum, onion, pepper and tomatoes are under cultivation. An additional 569 hectares will be cultivated before the end of the year to bring the total to 2,465 hectares.
98. Mr. Speaker, fertilizer is also being provided at a subsidized rate of 50 percent to participating farmers. I am happy to announce that, the reports we are receiving suggest that the fertilizer is getting to its intended beneficiaries and at the reduced price. Beneficiary farmers pay 25 percent of the subsidized price before collection and 25 percent after harvest. As at June 2017, a total of 61,568.05mt (1,231,361 bags) out of 156,000mt (3,120,000 bags) was supplied, representing 39.47 percent of the target. Distribution of fertilizer is on-going especially in the 3 northern regions.
99. Mr. Speaker, a total of 822 agricultural extension personnel trained by the Agricultural Colleges, who had been unemployed, were recruited and posted to 187 districts across the 10 regions of the country.
100. Mr. Speaker, Government has initiated the following actions to improve the marketing of agricultural produce:
* Linkage to institutional buyers (MDAs, Grains and Legumes Development Board (GLDB), Poultry Farmers, Licensed Agents, etc.);
* Restructuring of Grains and Legumes Development Board (GLDB) to absorb operations of National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) and facilitate the purchase of produce from farmers;
* Restoration of existing warehouses – COCOBOD sheds, NAFCO warehouses to provide storage space for agricultural produce;
* Provision of warehouses in designated districts; and
* Aggregator-led business model - Involvement of aggregators in nucleus out-grower schemes to help address bottlenecks in produce marketing by farmers.
101. Mr. Speaker, plans are also afoot to address the challenges associated with the supply of agriculture inputs and machinery. Government is procuring various agricultural machinery such as tractors, power tillers, slashers, mechanical planters, boom and vineyard sprayers, motorized sprayers, combine harvesters, irrigation kits, green houses, and grain dryers, which will be distributed to the farmers before the end of the year.
102. Mr. Speaker, the incidence of the fall army worm invasion which was first reported in April 2016, posed a challenge to increased food production. A total of 112,812 hectares of crops were infested, out of which 14,411 hectares were severely affected. The most affected crops were maize and cowpea.
103. Government responded by setting up a National Taskforce and sub-committees to create awareness and take steps to control the spread of the menace. Over 74,000 litres of various chemicals were procured and distributed to all the 216 districts in the country to control the infestation. Farmers are being educated on early detection of the fall army worm invasion.
104. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry will continue to sensitize and create awareness among the farmers and the general public and also manage the pest in abandoned heavily infested fields, which could serve as breeding grounds for re-infestation. The Ministry is also establishing a national pest surveillance system.
105. The President’s commitment to supporting farmers to feed the country and improve their own lives is very much on course.
106. Mr. Speaker, Ghana’s cocoa output, which was over 1 million tonnes in 2010/11 crop year, has declined to an average figure of 830,000 tonnes per annum in the past five years. It is the objective of the Government to reverse this declining trend and to increase production to more than 1 million tonnes per annum within the next four years.
107. Mr. Speaker, in this regard, Ghana Cocoa Board has rolled out the artificial pollination programmes which are aimed at increasing productivity of cocoa farmers from an average yield of 450kg/ha to over 1,000kg/ha. COCOBOD has trained and deployed 10,000 hand pollinators to assist farmers. It is projected that 24,000 hectares of farms will be pollinated in 2017 with an expected increase to 30,000 hectares in the next three years.
108. Mr. Speaker, in view of the effects of climate change and the associated harsh weather conditions, COCOBOD is promoting irrigation among cocoa farmers. This has the potential to increase cocoa production and to ensure high survival of transplanted cocoa seedlings.
• Irrigation systems are being set up around the cocoa stations and piloted on cocoa farms around the cocoa stations for effective monitoring and evaluation. Private sector companies with experience in irrigation in cocoa farms are leading the process with close collaboration of Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) and Seed Production Division (SPD).
109. Mr. Speaker, in light of estimated 22 percent of the country’s current cocoa tree stocks classified as over-aged/moribund or CSSVD infected, COCOBOD with support from Government has continued the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme.
Mr. Speaker, COCOBOD has also reformed the Mass Cocoa Spraying to involve greater private sector participation and farmer ownership.
110. Mr. Speaker, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire produce about 60 percent of the world's cocoa and face common challenges in production and marketing of the beans to which the individual country specific solutions are not sufficient to remedy.
111. Mr. Speaker, under the determined leadership of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Ivorian counterpart, the Ghana-Côte d'Ivoire Cooperation has been renewed and energized leading to a meeting in April 2017 in Abidjan and followed by a second meeting in Accra in June 2017. The meetings have set out the framework of the cooperation and worked out details of its implementation. The implemented decisions and initial successes so far include
• a common strategy,
• anti-smuggling initiative,
• a funding arrangement to undertake critical projects in both countries
• increasing use of cocoa butter equivalent (CBEs)
• formation of a new producer organization.
112. Mr. Speaker, a Ghanaian student is eligible to benefit from the Free SHS policy if he/she writes the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) from 2017 and is placed by the Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) into a publicly funded second cycle institution. Beneficiaries of this Government scholarship will enjoy it for a period of three years. Foreigners are excluded from the Free SHS.
113. Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the poor and the vulnerable are not left behind, students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be considered for placement. To prepare them adequately for a successful SHS programme, special in-school tuition will be provided for them. Additionally, 30 percent of vacancies in elite schools will be reserved for students from Public Junior High Schools.
114. Mr. Speaker, government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that the quality of education is not compromised as a result of the implementation of the Free SHS programme. In this regard, a number of interventions have been outlined as part of the implementation of the programme. Notable amongst them are the following:
* Provision of four core textbooks for all first year students;
* Rationalization of teacher deployment and training at the SHS level;
* Optimization of instruction time by extending the school day as well as the number of instructional days;
* Establishment of robust school inspection and accountability systems; and
* One hot meal a day for day students.
Restoration of Health Trainee Allowance
115. Mr. Speaker, the government planned to restore health trainee allowance in 2017 starting with the 2017/18 academic year. All health trainees in public training institutions will receive allowance starting September 2017. The Ministry of Health has made provision of Gh¢149million to pay for the four months ending December 2017. This will enable the health trainees concentrate on their education, reduce hardship especially on students from vulnerable and poor families and avoid disruptions in the school curriculum system.
Restructuring of the National Health Insurance Scheme
116. Mr. Speaker, the NHIS has undergone several changes since its inception. At the time this government took office, the scheme was facing challenges in claims management (e-claims), delays in processing of claims, coupled with other challenges in the administration and management of the NHIA. The government promised to restructure the NHIS and make it more efficient and effective. Mr. Speaker, a committee has been put in place to review the report (commissioned by the previous government) and put together a plan for restructuring the scheme.
117. Mr. Speaker, presently the LEAP programme has 213,048 household in all 216 districts in all ten regions of Ghana. Out of the 213,048 beneficiary households, 193,920 beneficiaries are registered and receive payment on the Ezwich platform operated by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlements System. The remaining beneficiary households are in the process of being registered onto the Ezwich platform.
118. Total payment made from January to 31st July 2017 is GH¢56,317,670.94. The Government is currently working on a productive and financial inclusion strategy to facilitate the graduation of LEAP beneficiaries from the cash transfer programme.
School Feeding Programme
119. Mr. Speaker, the concept of the Programme is to provide children in selected public kindergartens and primary schools in deprived areas of the country with one hot, nutritious meal per school day, using locally grown foodstuffs.
120. The immediate objectives of the programme are:
* Increasing school Enrolment, Attendance and Retention
* Reduce Hunger and malnutrition
* Boost Domestic Food Production
The long-term goal is to contribute to poverty reduction and food security in Ghana.
121. Currently, the programmer feeds 1,671,777 children in 5,530 schools in all 216 districts and provides employment for over 4,730 caterers.
122. Mr. Speaker, achievements for the year include, the development of an effective linkage of the programme with farmer based organistions; development of a new caterer engagement contract, bye-laws and constitution to govern caterer associations and operations and a strategic plan to enhance collaboration among stakeholders at the district level.
123. Mr. Speaker, the energy sector, particularly the electricity sub-sector, has been a major challenge to the growth of the economy in the past years before we took over the administration of the country. The difficulties and unstable electricity supply had created significant constraint on industrial production and socio-economic activities in the country.
124. Besides stabilizing the electricity supply, Government has made significant progress with respect to the interventions that were promised in the 2017 Budget Statement. Government has taken steps to deal with the financial difficulties in the sector. Cabinet has approved the implementation of the Cash Waterfall Mechanism (CWFM), which, together with the Energy Legacy Debt restructuring programme, is intended to resolve the perennial cash flow difficulties in the energy sector. Steps are being taken to implement the CWFM immediately.
125. Mr. Speaker, we inherited a power sector which had contracted so many power purchase agreements (PPAs) well beyond the country’s demand which had the potential to exacerbate the already dire financial crisis in the sector. As promised by His Excellency the President in the 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA), Cabinet is deliberating on a Strategy Paper submitted by the Ministry of Energy towards rationalizing the PPAs to ensure some least-cost power generation capacity additions.
On the regulatory front Cabinet has approved the establishment of the Electricity Market Oversight Panel (EMOP). The EMOP has been provided under the Electricity Regulations, LI 1937 but has not seen the light of day since 2008. The EMOP is to be inaugurated in August, 2017, to begin implementing its mandate. The EMOP is to exercise oversight responsibility over the Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) in Ghana with the objective of infusing operational sanity in the generation and supply of electricity in Ghana and particularly managing and optimising hydroelectric generation in the country.
126. Mr. Speaker, one key intervention that Government had promised in the 2017 Budget Statement was the restructuring of the Volta River Authority (VRA) to bring about increased operational efficiency and private sector investments in the power sector. Government has approved the VRA restructuring agenda submitted by the Ministry to Cabinet and processes towards the implementation of the restructuring agenda have begun under the coordination of the Ministry of Finance.
127. Mr. Speaker, in the renewable energy front, Government has given approval to Bui Power to collaborate with SYNO Hydro to construct a 250mw solar power facility to operate as a hybrid electricity generation source to complement the hydro- electricity so that the Bui power plant can enhance its electricity generation capability during off-peak periods.
128. Mr. Speaker, in 2017 we inherited from the previous government Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supply contracts that were mispriced. Prices were higher than indigenous sources of gas and in some cases higher than the crude oil, it was designed to displace. We have restructured and renegotiated the terms of LNG supply such that the price is now below that of indigenous gas and guaranteed for the long term to be below that of alternative fuels such as light crude oil. Our successful renegotiations of these LNG contracts will result in savings of approximately a billion dollars.
129. Mr. Speaker, these initiatives are aimed at achieving a reduction in the per kilowatt price of electricity for industry and households.
130. Mr. Speaker, as part of Government’s effort to improve public mass transportation, the Ministry initiated processes for the acquisition of buses for the two Public Bus Companies. The objective is to improve the current bus fleet of Metro Mass and Inter-City State Transport Corporation (ISCT). In all a total of 800 buses will be acquired. These include 200 Compress Natural Gas (CNG) and 500 diesel buses for the Metro Mass Transit and the remaining 100 diesel buses for ISTC.
131. As a demonstration of Government’s commitment to address challenges at Ghana’s Ports, and to improve ports efficiency, the government has decided to implement the following interventions:
* The launch of the first phase of the interconnectivity of computer systems between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire Customs to facilitate better collaboration and coordination;
* Removal of all customs barriers on transit corridors;
* Mandatory Joint inspection by regulatory agencies at the Ports; and
* Implementation of 100 percent paperless processing procedures.
132. Mr. Speaker, the establishment of a Ministry of Railways Development was to address what the President has continuously described as one of the greatest tragedies of our post-colonial development. From the colonial legacy of 947 kilometres at independence barely 13 percent was operational in January 2017. The renewed interest that has been generated in the sector by over 200 companies both local and foreign expressing interest in participating in the redevelopment of the rail sector more than justifies the wisdom in setting up a Ministry to focus on the redevelopment of the sector.
133. Mr. Speaker, Tema to Akosombo has commenced and is projected to complete by mid-2020. On the Eastern Line, a feasibility study is ready to trigger a procurement process. On the Central Spine we have commenced the process of procuring a consultant to undertake a feasibility study.
Roads and Highways
134. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry maintained its focus on routine and periodic maintenance activities to protect the huge investment made by Government in the provision of the road infrastructure.
135. As at end of June 2017, routine maintenance had been undertaken on 6,233km (52% of the approved work plan) of the trunk road network; 8,899km (39% of the approved work plan) on the feeder road network; and 6,000km (59% of the approved work plan) on the urban road network.
136. Mr. Speaker, within the same period, periodic maintenance activities, comprising re-gravelling/spot improvement and resealing works had been carried out on 199km (57% of the approved work plan), 100km (33% of the approved work plan) and 180km (51% of the approved work plan) on the trunk, feeder and urban road networks respectively. Periodic maintenance activities on the urban roads were mostly focused on resealing and asphalt overlay works which saw 100km of roads asphalted in MMDAs such as; Tema and Accra.
137. Also, minor rehabilitation works covering minor upgrading and the construction of culverts and drainage structures were carried on 261km (75% of the approved work plan) and 25km (25% of the approved work plan) on the feeder and urban road networks respectively. The details of progress on some of the maintenance projects are shown below;
Mankessim – Abura – Dunkwa
Nkawkaw - New Abirem
Kpone - Katamanso and Golf City Area
Third Ring Road in Tamale
Asphaltic Overlay of 250km of roads
Ayefua Area Roads
Dalive – Agortaga Ph 2 (Km 6-12,2)
Anyinasuso - Abonsuaso - Nyameadom - Danyame ph 1
Kpeme-Nyonya-Gbi Wegbe Feeder Roads Phase II (Km 0.00 - 12.700)
100%138. The development activities undertaken include Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Construction of Bridges and Upgrading The details of progress on some of the projects are shown below;
Nsawam - Apedwa Road, Kwafokrom - Apedwa
Agona Junction – Elubo
Ayamfuri – Asawinso
Wa – Han
Kansaworodo Bypass Phase 3
Kasoa Interchange and Ancillary Works
Dualisation of Ho Main Road
Construction of Ho Bypass
Nkwanta-Oti Damanko (Km0 -50)
Nkwanta-Oti Damanko (Km50-62.3)
88%139. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry’s Public Private Partnerships (PPP) programme for the financing, construction and management of road infrastructure is progressing steadily. Currently the pre-feasibility report of the Accra – Takoradi project is being updated whilst that for the Accra-Tema Motorway is almost completed.
Water and Sanitation
140. Mr. Speaker, government has secured a US$48.85 million loan from the AfDB to improve sanitation conditions in the Greater Accra Region in a five-year project. Government is also focussed on delivering improved sanitation for all, consistent with the Sustainable Development Goal 6 through its key initiatives such as “Water for All”, “Toilet for All”, among others.
141. A sector-wide strategic plan has been completed, setting a road map on how to address the constraints confronting the sector and how to overcome them. This plan also includes a Total Sanitation Campaign Strategy that would also address the attitudinal transformation issues of Ghanaians with regard to sanitation.
142. Mr. Speaker, recognizing that some of the major constraints impeding the efficient collection of waste in the country include inadequate infrastructure as well as the delay in payment for services arising out of accumulated bills, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources has undertaken the assessment of the value chain of waste management business in the country and prepared policy proposals to restructure the sector as well as streamline its financing to ensure the effective collection of waste in the country.
Combating Galamsey (Illicit Mining)
143. Mr. Speaker, the previous piecemeal attempt of solving the challenge of illicit mining in the country has not seen any significant result. The Government has, therefore, put together a five-year project called Multilateral Mining Integration Project (MMIP). This will address the problem over the five-year period creating over 500,000 job opportunities in phases as follows:
* Train 100,000 small-scale miners;
* Reclaim 7,140km2 (3% of total land size of Ghana);
* Prospect 2,500km2;
* Build skills for employment (10-12 weeks);
* Create 100,000 jobs; and
* Create 20,000 acres of oil palm plantations.
144. Currently government has constituted a seven-member ministerial team to provide a medium term solution. Government has already disbursed GH¢56 million to an emergency programme. Most of the degraded areas have been tested for mercury levels and are ready for reclamation. Over 3000 floating platforms on most of the rivers in Ashanti, Eastern, Central, Western and Brong Ahafo regions have been removed from those rivers. More than 1,300 earth moving equipment have also been taken out from the sites. Our rivers are showing signs of improvement, thereby returning our treatment plants back to work.
Youth Employment Agency (YEA)
145. Mr. Speaker, the Agency with approximately 62,000 beneficiaries have since June this year introduced beneficiaries’ timesheet to address the practice whereby beneficiaries are paid without any records of work done.
146. The Agency in ensuring value for money, protecting the public purse and efficiency has increased the beneficiaries monitoring assistants from 256 to 600.
147. The Agency has started the process to recruit over 60,000 unemployed youth under the following modules:
* Youth in Security
* Youth in Afforestation
* Youth in Graduate internship
* Youth in Paid internship.
* Youth in Sanitation
Establishment of the Zongo Development Fund
148. Mr. Speaker, broad consultations with relevant stakeholders were undertaken towards the establishment of the Zongo Development Fund. A total of 3,548 stakeholders including, Members of Parliament, Development Partners, Imams, Christian groups, Traditional Rulers, Zongo Chiefs, Clan Heads, Women Groups, Youth Leaders, MMDAs, NGOs, representatives of Political Parties and Media Practitioners, were consulted. Cabinet has granted approval for the policy. The Bill will be submitted to Parliament before the end of the year.
Private Sector Development
149. Mr. Speaker, work has started on a number of initiatives in the 2017 Budget to empower the private sector.
Building an Entrepreneurial Nation
150. Mr. Speaker, after years of unstable power supply (Dumsor) and macroeconomic instability, businesses, especially manufacturing, were negatively impacted. As part of the response, a quick disbursing Stimulus Fund has been created to support distressed but viable companies. To date, over 350 applications have been received, out of which 80 have been selected for support in the first phase of the programme. The second phase of the exercise is ready to commence.
151. Mr. Speaker, under the government’s industrial transformation agenda, the implementation of the One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative has commenced. A programme implementation framework which sets the modalities of implementation has been prepared. To date, the Technical Support Group for the programme has already reviewed a total of 234 business plans received for the 1D1F initiative. About 59 percent of these applications are from the manufacturing sector whiles 33 percent are from the agribusiness sector. It is envisaged that more than 50 Districts will start actual implementation of their enterprises by the end of the year, with the potential to generate about 80,000 direct and indirect jobs.
152. Mr. Speaker, in order to improve the business environment to make the country an attractive destination for investments and make Ghana the most business friendly nation in Africa, a comprehensive programme for business regulatory reform has been launched. This includes the following:
a) reforms aimed at improving Ghana’s rankings on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index;
b) establishing an electronic register for business regulations, legislation and processes which will provide a complete repository of business laws and regulations;
c) conduct a rolling review of business regulations to ensure real time response to regulatory reform;
d) develop a centralized web portal for business regulations which will provide an interactive platform for public consultations;
e) design targeted regulatory reliefs for SMEs in order to reduce entry barriers for young entrepreneurs and start-ups; and
f) establish Regulatory Reform Units (RRU) within MDAs to conduct Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIA).
153. This will lead to the creation of a permanent system of quality control for the introduction of new business regulations.
National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP)
154. Mr. Speaker, His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the National Entrepreneurship & Innovation Plan (NEIP) to support start-up and early-stage businesses with a seed-capital financing of the Ghana Cedi equivalent of US$10million. The NEIP will include business development services, incubator hubs and business accelerator services.
155. Mr. Speaker, NEIP, which is expected to raise additional US$100million in private capital and multilateral funding to fund its programmes will be managed by a Private Sector Implementation Partner (PSIP). The selection of the PSIP is in progress and will be completed in about three weeks. It is envisaged that NEIP will have several self-contained modules on ICT, Tourism, Agriculture, Health and other similar critical areas that will be managed by subject-area specialists to make sure we leverage this as a vehicle for value-creation and youth employment.
Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP)
156. Mr Speaker, the promise to tackle infrastructure challenges at the constituency level, especially in rural and deprived communities, is very much on course. The Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme will deliver the One District, One Factory; One Village, One Dam; Small Business Development; Agricultural Infrastructure; “Water for All” Projects; and Sanitation Projects. Other constituency-based infrastructure projects including culverts, school buildings, and Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds will also be funded under the IPEP.
157. Mr. Speaker, 10-member regional teams for the ten regions have been constituted to manage the implementation of the IPEP. The Teams have completed the constituency infrastructure needs assessment and the reports are ready for consideration.
Establishment of the Development Authorities
158. Mr Speaker, we commenced the process to establish the development authorities to ensure that the IPEP and other local initiatives are implemented in a well-coordinated manner. The three Bills for the establishment of the three Development Authorities namely, Northern Development Authority (NDA) to take care of the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions, Middle-Belt Development Authority (MDA) for the Ashanti, Eastern, and the Brong Ahafo Regions, and Coastal Development Authority (CDA) for the Volta, Greater-Accra, Central and Western regions will be laid before this august House shortly.
Abolish levies imposed on kayayei by local authorities
159. Mr. Speaker, all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies have abolished levies that were imposed on Kayayei. Revenue collectors in the various MMDAs have accordingly been stopped from demanding payments from kayayei. Additionally, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has exempted levies on Kayayei in the Fee Fixing Guidelines that will be applied to MMDAs in the year 2018. The Fee Fixing Guidelines have been developed, validated and adopted, and training of core staff of the MMDAs are on- going.
160. Meanwhile Government is taking pragmatic steps to enable MMDAs generate enough funds to implement their medium term development plans. These include the implementation of Business Enabling Environment Programme, which has streamlined the process involved in obtaining Building Permit from 15 processes to 11 and reduced the number of days from 145 to 90 in Accra and Tema Metropolitan areas.
Election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives
161. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has set- up a Committee to carry out an extensive study and recommend legislative reviews necessary to ensure the election of our MMDCEs. A roadmap has been developed to guide the legislative reviews and stakeholder consultation toward election of MMDCEs. His Excellency the President also announced during the orientation of MMDCEs, that the appointment of the current MMDCEs was the last in Ghana.
Formalising the Economy and Financial Inclusion
162. Mr. Speaker, progress has been made on all three components aimed at formalizing the economy. These are, the National Digital Property Addressing System, the National Identification Scheme, and Interoperability of Banking and Mobile Communication platforms. Various technical committees were constituted to prepare a roadmap for the implementation of these projects subsequent to which service providers have been, or are being selected. Government is on course to completing the National Digital Property Addressing System upon which the issuance of National Identity Cards will commence in October, 2017. The Interoperability project is also scheduled for completion by end 2017.
Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment
163. Mr. Speaker, Government took a bold decision to cap all earmarked funds to 25 percent of tax revenues to allow a realignment of budget revenues to government priorities and make possible increased expenditure on government priorities. The implementation of the policy is on course with a few challenges which are being resolved.
Financial Sector Development
164. Mr. Speaker, our commitment is to implement reforms to strengthen the pensions and insurance industry to ensure the availability of cheaper long term capital to the private sector. Over the past 6 months, we have finalized the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, which aims to increase access to finance from the current national average of 58 percent to 75 percent by 2023. We are also working to commit 20 percent of the proceeds of the G20 Compact with Africa to strengthen the financial sector, focusing on venture capital financing and support for small and medium scale industries.
165. Mr. Speaker, as at April 2017, the banking sector comprised 33 universal banks with a combined network of 1,377 branches across the country. Despite the strong performance of the banking sector for the first four months of the year, as evidenced by the improved performance in asset growth, the sector is still threatened by the high Non-Performing Loans (NPL).
166. We are however confident that, with the planned issuance of the energy sector bond in the coming months, the NPL ratio will improve significantly, and with increased liquidity, our banks will be in a better position to deliver cheaper credit to the private sector.
Capital Market Developments
167. Over the past six months, we have started the process of lengthening and normalizing the yield curve, lowering benchmark interest rates, and pursuing macroeconomic stability, to position the capital market for growth.
168. Specifically, government introduced the 15-Year Fixed benchmark bond aimed at lengthening the maturity profile of the domestic debt and more importantly to serve as a reference benchmark for pricing of corporate issuance. Activities in the secondary market on the Ghana Fixed Income Market (GFIM), have been very encouraging with about 21 corporate bonds having liquidity premium decline from 2.48 bps in April 2016 to 1.46 bps in April 2017. Interest rates are on the decline especially on short-term instruments and contributing to the normalization of the yield curve.
169. We have amended the Income Tax (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 941) to exempt gains on investment from taxation for 2 years, one of the major policy initiatives in the 2017 budget.
170. We have also worked with the industry regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to strengthen regulatory capacity and build important structures for robust market surveillance. The SEC is also developing necessary Regulation and Guidelines including Guidelines on Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and Guidelines on Mortgage Backed Securities to facilitate licensing and supervision.
Pension and Insurance Sector
171. Mr. Speaker, total assets of the insurance industry stood at about GH¢3.64 billion at the end of March 2017, as against GH¢3.49 billion in December, 2016.
172. In line with the 2017 budget, we have started the process for the Ministries of Finance and Employment and Labour Relations to co-supervise the National Pensions Regulatory Authority. This is an important step towards streamlining the regulations of the pensions and insurance industry.
Expenditure Management and Commitment Control
173. Mr. Speaker, Government has taken steps to clean the payroll data using the SSNIT biometric database. In April 2017, workers who failed to biometrically register with SSNIT had their salaries suspended. Preparatory works are also on-going to interface the Government payroll with SSNIT biometric database as well as register the Government CAP 30 workers on the SSNIT Biometric database before the end of the year.
174. In order to implement the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in compliance with provisions in the PFMA, a liquidity impact assessment of the closure of accounts with commercial banks was completed and the impact found to be minimal. We have therefore begun the process to close all GOG Bank accounts with commercial banks and transfer balances to the Central Bank. Closed accounts at commercial banks currently stand at 1,985 and the remaining 2,015 accounts is expected to be closed by September, 2017. IGF and Donor funds will be implemented in phase II of the programme.
2018 Wage Negotiations
175. Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of completing the 2018 wage negotiations by end April 2017 as required by the PFM Act, we are glad to inform the House that through the tireless effort of the National Tripartite Committee (NTC), comprising Organised Labour/Associations, Employers’ Associations and Government, the 2018 National Daily Minimum Wage was determined. Similarly, the 2018 public sector base pay has been successfully negotiated by the Public Sector Joint Standing Negotiating Committee (PSJSNC) to increase by 11 percent for the 2018 fiscal year.
176. Mr. Speaker, with your permission, we would like to use this occasion to express our deepest appreciation to Organised Labour/Associations and Employers Association for their effective collaboration with Government to conclude wage negotiations for 2018, way ahead of the preparation of the 2018 Budget. This development will certainly enhance the predictability of the fiscal impact of wage adjustments on the budget.
Foreign Direct Investment
177. Mr. Speaker, as part of government’s plans to attract foreign investment, government has signed a number of Double Taxation Agreements with countries, including Mauritius, Morocco, Czech Republic, The Netherlands and Singapore. Already we are seeing positive signs of greater investor interest from these countries.
178. Mr. Speaker, the GIPC is on track to meet its target of US$5 billion by the end of the year. This is shown in the FDI results recorded by the Centre within the first half of the year.
179. The total number of projects registered in the first half of 2017 was 95, with a total estimated value of US$3.25 billion. There was an increase of 5.56 percent in the number of projects registered as compared to the number recorded in the corresponding period of 2016. The FDI component of US$3.16 billion recorded in the first half of 2017 increased by 100.91 percent over the amount recorded in the same period of 2016.
180. The Netherlands topped the list of countries with the largest FDI value, amounting to US$2.44 billion in the first half of the year, while China with 21 projects topped the list of countries with the highest number of registered projects.
Improved Development Cooperation
181. Mr. Speaker, government over the past six months has taken deliberate steps to reengage and repair our relationship with our Development Partners to facilitate development cooperation. We have institutionalized new engagement modalities and platforms to ensure a more open and transparent dialogue. This has led to a restoration of confidence in and support for our economic development agenda. We are witnessing increased financial support and commitment to our development programmes.
182. Mr. Speaker, given that economic performance was off-track in 2016 and the IMF Programme was severely compromised, we expect to complete the Programme through our budget cycle of January 2018 through December 2018, to ensure that we meet the Programme objectives and targets. It is our expectation that the IMF Board will meet in August 2017 to approve the fourth review of the Programme.
183. Mr. Speaker, another milestone was our successful enrolment as a G20 Africa Compact Country after meeting all the necessary member requirements. Under the Compact, an MOU was signed with Germany which will trigger a disbursement of 119 million Euros. The proposed focal sectors of engagement with Germany are energy (renewable energy, complemented by technical and vocational training) and the financial sector.
Non-Debt Infrastructure Financing
184. Mr. Speaker, we have signaled to the market that going forward, our strategy is to tap into non-debt, structured financing arrangements that bring private capital to major infrastructure projects. An example being the Integrated Aluminium Industry, which involves value-adding development of our bauxite deposits. This will be leveraged to finance major infrastructure projects, including the construction of the Central and Eastern Rail Lines with the extension to Paga.
SECTION SIX: CONCLUSION
185. Mr. Speaker, in March when I presented the budget, I indicated to this august House that we were going through the process of determining the actual state of the economy. As I have already indicated, real GDP growth for 2016 was lower than anticipated and the deficit was also higher than was projected.
186. However, as a government, our focus in the first half of the year was to stabilize the economy and re-establish the principles of good economic governance. Like Nehemiah, we are rebuilding the walls of good economic governance. Our belief is that we need to protect the public purse and secure value for money for state resources.
187. We want to provide good economic environment for businesses in particular and to get Ghana working again and I am happy to say that the economy is stable:
* Inflation is trending downward
* The cedi has stabilised
* Interest rates are lower
* And there is a general feeling of optimism and hope.
188. We have spent time going through a rigorous preparatory process for all the initiatives we announced. Most Ministries have held extensive consultations and discussions with their stakeholders. We have laid the foundation for successful implementation of our flagship programmes which we believe will turn around the fortunes of this country.
189. The second half of the year will see commencement of actual implementation of our flagship programmes. New businesses will be set up under our one district one factory programme, existing businesses will be stimulated and rejuvenated and service delivery in state agencies like sanitation and power will see visible improvements. Our free SHS will be rolled out and we will begin the scaling up of our Infrastructure projects like rail and roads.
190. Mr. Speaker, we are putting in place measures to strengthen revenue performance to enable us achieve our objectives. In the spirit of prudent economic management, we have revised our expenditures whilst ensuring that we do not compromise on the promises we made to Ghanaians.
191. Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that this august House take note of the revisions to the 2017 Budget.