The government’s diplomatic efforts are yielding results as the country is expected to receive, through the COVAX facility, 1.2 million Pfizer vaccines from the United States of America and 249,600 AstraZeneca vaccines from the United Kingdom.
Additionally, the government has committed itself to purchase, through the African Medicine Supply Platform, 17 million Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccines, totalling 18,449,600 million Covid-19 vaccines for the country.
Minister for Finance Ken Ofori-Atta announced this when he presented to Parliament yesterday, the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2021 Financial Year.
He said as a result of the increased international visibility and the exemplary leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during this pandemic, the Government has been able to procure and administer 1,271,393 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
He said while 865,422 people have received the first dose, 405,971 have been fully vaccinated, as of the end of June this year.
President Akufo-Addo, the Finance Minister reiterated, has set up a committee dedicated to facilitating Ghana’s domestic capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines, beginning with the process of fill and finish.
Mr Ofori-Atta noted that Ghanaians have given the Akufo-Addo administration another four-year mandate to manage the country, mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and pursue Ghana’s transformation agenda of equal opportunities and prosperity for all.
“We are in the 7th month of the journey and executing the mandate with diligence, integrity and faith and we are determined to overcome the challenges that confront the nation.
“Let us join hands to build a more inclusive, confident and hopeful society. COVID-19 has caused enough havoc, but we are resilient and confident people and should not allow ourselves to be defeated by the negatives”, he urged.
Economic Recovery Begins
Finance Minister Ofori-Atta provided evidence to back its claim that the Ghanaian economy has started recovering from the shocks it suffered as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
“I stand before this august House today to assure the nation that our transformation agenda is very much on course. However, with COVID-19 still with us, it is important to stress that this recovery is only the beginning; a beginning that requires our collective sense of responsibility and action as citizens to guide, protect and participate in the recovery efforts”, the Finance Minister told the legislature.
According to him, growth averaged 7% in the first three years of the Akufo-Addo administration until COVID hit and slowed it down to about 1% in 2020.
He said before this slowdown, about 3 million jobs were created while the private sector also expanded and created more jobs.
Mr Ofori-Atta noted that while the predicted economic slowdown has caused discomfort for some Ghanaians, early evidence in the 2021 macro data shows the recovery borne out of its interventions have started bearing fruits.
He said the government’s transformation agenda is “very much on course.”
Data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) indicate that the Ghanaian economy expanded by 3.1% in the first quarter of this year, the lowest since the same period in 2019.
The Bank of Ghana Composite Index of Economic Activity (CIEA) attests to the strong growth recovery, with the index growing at 33.1 per cent at the end of May 2021 compared to a contraction of 10.23 per cent at the end of May 2020.
“Mr Speaker, on inflation, we are witnessing one of the lowest numbers on record in about two years. Inflation, which, at the height of the pandemic, hovered around 11.8 per cent, dropped to 7.5 per cent in May 2021 before inching up slightly to 7.8 per maintain in June. The Bank of Ghana will continue to implement appropriate monetary policy to maintain the inflation rate within the target of 8 –2 per cent.
“The cedi has been relatively stable in the past four years and maintained its stability even in this pandemic year. For the first time in the Fourth Republic, the exchange rate did not see a spike after an election year. Cumulatively, from the beginning of the year to date, the exchange rate has depreciated by 0.6 per cent against the US Dollar and appreciating by 3.6 per cent against the Euro. This stability is expected to continue as we move towards the close of the year.
“The relatively strong performance of the external sector led to an increase in the reserves position to US$11.0 billion, equivalent to 5.0 months of imports, one of the highest on record. This compares well with a reserved position of US$9.2 billion, equivalent to 4.3 months imports cover, in the corresponding period last year.
“Mr Speaker, we are managing the finances of the country with discipline and competence. The fiscal operations for the period January to June 2021 indicate that the overall budget deficit was GH¢22.32 billion, equivalent to 5.1 per cent of GDP. The corresponding primary balance for the period was a deficit of GH¢7.3 billion, equivalent to 1.7 per cent of GDP, against a target deficit of GH¢4,797 or 1.1% of GDP. 23. We will continue to pursue our fiscal consolidation agenda to ensure that we remain within the appropriation given by this House”, Mr Ofori-Atta told Parliament.
GH¢100Bn GhanaCARES Obaatanpa
According to Mr Ofori-Atta, it is in line with the economic recovery that the GhanaCARES Obaatanpa programme was launched in November last year with an audacious GH¢100 billion revitalizations of enterprise support scheme.
The first phase of the programme, which was rolled out last year, builds on actions already taken by the government, including stabilization of the economy, ensuring food security, support businesses and workers, strengthening the health system and passage of legislation to facilitate quick economic recovery.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the second phase, which aims at revitalizing and transforming the economy from 2021-2023, will focus on supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into agriculture, building Ghana’s light manufacturing sector and several other sectors.
“Since the turn of this year, we have been purposefully pursuing the second phase of the Ghana CARES programme to revitalize the economy and set it on track for transformation. As already articulated, our approach under this programme is to revitalize the private sector in targeted sectors to fast-track competitive import substitution, export expansion and the creation of decent jobs for our youth in a commercial environment that is increasingly regionally integrated,” he pointed out.
Mr Ofori-Atta said to fully operationalize the programme, the government has put in place a well-thought-out implementation and coordination framework with a functional and staffed GhanaCARES Coordinating Office within the Ministry of Finance.
Additionally, GhanaCARES Delivery Units (including sector specialists from the Private Sector) has been activated in all participating Metropolitan and District Assemblies (MDAs).
Source: the custodian