The report that Ghana's economy grew by 3.3% in quarter one of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, according to the Ghana Statistical Service and the assurance by the Minister for Finance that the government remains committed to implementing measures to address the perennial depreciation of the Ghana cedi against its major trading partners are some of the leading stories in the Ghanaian press on Thursday.
The Graphic reports that Ghana's economy grew by 3.3% in quarter one of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, the Ghana Statistical Service said on Wednesday.
The Government Statistician, Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim announced the provisional real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in volume terms said growth was driven by Information and Communication (1.0%), Crops and Cocoa (0.9%), Transport and Storage (0.4%), Manufacturing (0.3%) and Trade: Repair of Vehicles, Household goods (0.3%).
When seasonally adjusted, Ghana's real GDP increased by 0.9% in quarter one (January to March) of 2022; 1.0 percentage points lower than what was recorded in quarter four (October to December) of 2021.
The Services sector remains the largest sector of the economy with a 45percent share of GDP. The GDP share of Industry and Agriculture were 32percent and 23percent respectively.
Prof Annim said the main sectors with more than 10 percent expansion in quarter one of 2022 are Information and Communication (26.6%); Fishing (26.1%); Water Supply, Sewerage, Waste Management & Remediation Activities (25.4%) and Electricity (15.9%).
He also mentioned that seven sub-sectors led by Professional, Administrative & Support Service activities (-12.8%) and Public Administration, Defense and Social Security (-9.8%) contracted.
The remaining sectors that contracted during the period were Real Estate (-2.6%), Construction (-2.6%), Education (2.0%), Health and Social Work (-1.0) and Forestry & Logging (-0.1%).
The newspaper says that the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta has assured that government remains committed to implementing measures to address the perennial depreciation of the Ghana cedi against its major trading partners.
The Minister gave the assurance when he responded to a question posed to him in Parliament by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bongo Constituency, Edward Abambire on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
According to the Minister, government has so far implemented a 30% cut in expenditures as part of measures to reduce the fiscal deficit, noting that this is geared toward helping reduce the pressures on the exchange rate.
“Government is complementing efforts to keep the cedi afloat through its fiscal consolidation measures and real sector interventions. The implementation of the 30% cut in expenditures and other expenditure measures approved by Cabinet are all helping to reduce the fiscal deficit and thereby reduce the pressures on the exchange rate,” he said.
He said, in addition, government is undertaking real sector interventions including the Ghana CARES programme to support import substitution of products such as poultry, rice, and other essential commodities thereby reducing foreign exchange pressures from the imports of those products.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said government was also arranging to raise about US$1.0 billion to support the 2022 Budget and foreign exchange reserves.
The Graphic also reports that the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has directed two committees of Parliament to investigate the COVID-19 expenditure of the government.
They will also probe the receipt and application of COVID-19 funds by the government.
The committees, Finance and Health, will submit their report to the House in the first week of the next meeting of the House in October this year.
Mr Bagbin gave the directive on the floor of Parliament yesterday when the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, appeared before the House to give account of how COVID-19 funds had been expended.
The ruling by the Speaker was made after the Minority called for an ad-hoc committee to probe the utilisation of COVID-19 funds by the government.
While the Minority, led by its leader, Haruna Iddrisu, pushed for the setting up of an ad-hoc committee to probe COVID-19 expenditure, the Majority, led by its Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, argued that there were existing committees of Parliament that could be tasked to investigate the matter, instead of a special committee.
After the comments by both sides of the House, the Speaker said it had become necessary for further investigation and inquiry into how COVID-19 funds were utilised.
He said the Finance Minister only came to give the broad outline of the expenditure and, therefore, there was the need for Parliament to invite ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), as well as the COVID-19 Trust Fund, to come and give detail accounts on how the money they were given to combat the pandemic was spent.
The Ghanaian Times says that the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has said government spent GH¢12.036 billion on the coronavirus pandemic for the years 2020 and 2021.
Giving the breakdown of the utilisation on the floor of Parliament in Accra yesterday, Mr Ofori-Atta said the programmed expenditure for the years under consideration amounted to GH¢15.763 billion.
For 2020, Mr Ofori-Atta said GH¢8.122 billion was expended to provide support to households, supply equipment and provide relief to health workers, health infrastructure, security, operations, evacuations, quarantine and coordination, economic relief, stabilisation and revitalisation and COVID-19 complementary releases in 2020.
“Mr Speaker, a total amount of GH¢4.601 billion was programmed in the 2021 budget for COVID-19 related expenses. At the end of December 2021, total utilisation was GH¢3.914 billion representing 85 per cent utilisation,” he told the plenary.
Mr Ofori-Atta made these known when he addressed Parliament upon the invitation of the House to render account on the receipt and utilisation of the monies for the purpose of combating the pandemic.
According to him, government has so far mobilised GH¢18.19 billion from various sources including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Bank of Ghana, the Africa Development Bank and the European Union.
On support for households, he said GH¢1.550 billion was spent in total, including GH¢12.1 million on distributing packed hot foods and GH¢42.24 million on dry foods for residents in Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Greater Kumasi by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).
Health response supplies, equipment and relief for health workers, Mr Ofori-Atta said amounted to GH¢1.049 billion, GH¢600 million was spent on health infrastructure, GH¢875 million on security operations, evacuations and coordination, and GH¢1.992 billion on economic relief, stabilisation and revitalisation programmes.
He said GH¢1.501 billion was transferred to statutory funds, GH¢1.267 billion to settle outstanding indebtedness to contractors, and GH¢401 million to the National Identification Authority.
He said President Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo’s declaration during his message on the state of the nation that government has mobilised GH¢17.7 billion since 2020 to fight the pandemic has since been reconciled.
“We have subsequently reconciled the data and I can report that as of end of May 2022, we have mobilised GH¢18.19 billion to mitigate the effect of the pandemic,” he said adding the Vice President’s April7, 2022 submission at the TESCON Conference that government had spent GH¢8.1 billion on COVID-19, was within the context of expenditure for 2020.
“Mr Speaker, I believe this presentation demonstrates government’s commitment to accountability and transparency. All programmed, mobilised and utilised funds have been duly reported. As a government, we continue to operate an open-door policy and welcome any opportunity to engage in the national interest,” he stated.