Budget review to rally nation behind IMF deal

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta
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The government will use the mid-year budget review (MYBR) to be presented Monday, July 25 to rally the nation behind a prospective programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is intended to improve upon the country’s balance of payment (BOP) and fast track the economic recovery.

It would also use the opportunity to call for a non-partisan support for the programme, which it said was occasioned by the ravages of the COVID-19 pademic and the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

NABCo arrears

It is understood that the Finance Minister, Mr Ofori-Atta, would use his sixth MYBR in a row to announce a concrete plan to clear the backlog of arrears owed personnel of the Nation builders’ Corps (NABCo) as well as integrate them into the YouStart programme.

He would also assure Ghanaians that the government would work to protect its social intervention programmes in any discussion to improve upon the fortunes of the economy.

Of particular interest would be the free senior high school (SHS) programme, the school feeding programme and the Agenda 111, which have come under serious criticism in recent times, following concerns over expenditure pressures.

National support

People familiar with the review process said Mr Ofori-Atta would announce measures to protect those programmes from any expenditure cuts as part of a broad strategy to insulate the vulnerable from the fallouts from any fiscal consolidation exercise.

He would also reiterate the need for perspective to the challenges facing the country, with emphasis that until the COVDI-19 pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine crisis derailed the government’s agenda, the government was on course to building a sound economy that could stand the test of time.

Consequently, the minister is expected to call on Ghanaians to support the government as it navigates the tough challenges of bearish commodity prices, record-high global inflation and weak growth amid growing concerns of debt pressures.

The support is needed to stabilise the economy and improve upon their living conditions.

NABCo trainees to be paid

The people familiar with the review process said the presentation to Parliament would also announce plans to integrate personnel of the Nation Builders’ Corps (NABCo) into the YouStart programme.

It is further understood that the review would contain plans to pay the personnel their outstanding arrears in the coming months as part of the integration process into the YouStart.

Announced in the 2022 budget, the YouStart programme is a novelty by the government to promote entrepreneurial activities and provide jobs, particularly for the youth.

It is the government’s special purpose vehicle to provide funding and technical support to the youth and youth-led enterprises to assist them start, build and grow their own businesses.

Mr Ofori-Atta told Parliament earlier this year that the government, in collaboration with the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme, the Ghana Enterprises Agency, faith-based organisations, and financial institutions, will provide loan packages ranging from GH¢50,000 – GH¢500,000 to youth-led enterprises and Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) under the YouStart initiative.

He said such businesses would also be supported with technical skills, training as well as mentoring, to enable them develop commercially viable enterprises.

The minister was optimistic that these would lead to an increase in economic activities and contribute to the reduction in the cost of living as incomes are earned and output is produced.

Sources said the integration of the NABCo personnel into the programme would help to strengthen it while addressing the issues of allowances that has long bedeveiled that programme.

Source: Daily Graphic

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