Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu presents 2021 Budget today

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The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, is expected to present the 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Akufo-Addo government in Parliament today.

Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was designated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to do the presentation following the absence of the Finance and Economic Planning Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta, who is still in the United States of America (USA) for a medical review.

Mr Ofori Atta is even yet to go through parliamentary vetting and approval.

Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, in an interaction with the media earlier this week, hinted that as part of the government’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts, it will come out with creative revenue mobilization measures to fund projects earmarked for execution as well as other social intervention initiatives.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah stressed that it is important for the government to increase its revenue streams in order to embark on useful projects for Ghanaians.

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According to him, the government needs creative revenue mobilization measures that will enable it roll out its policies for the 2021 fiscal year.

A section of the public also thinks the Budget must make commitment to road construction projects, both trunk and inner city roads; provision of drinking water; and ensuring the sustainability of social interventions programmes.

TUC

For the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the government should make provisions in the Budget for the payment of pension lump sum owed workers who retired last year.

The labour union, in a statement ahead of the presentation of the Budget, said even though the government had committed itself to paying up the difference between what retirees received last year and what they should have received, it had failed to live up to its promise, resulting in loss of confidence in the government and financial difficulties for the affected workers.

The Secretary General of the TUC, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, who signed the union’s statement, said it was hopeful that the government would use the Budget to make it up to labour.

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“Last year, the government committed itself to toping-up lump-sum benefits for retirees who retired under Act 766 whose lump-sum benefits fell short of the lump sum under PNDC Law 247. We expect the budget to make provision for the payment of the lump-sum top-up this year.

“Workers who are retiring in 2021 are facing the same challenge. They also deserve lump-sum top-up,” the statement said.

The union further advised the government to review its decision to exclude all security agencies from the pension unification programme, as it would “perpetuate the discrimination in pensions”.

“As we stated in our New Year message, the TUC cannot support such a policy because it undermines the entire pension reform initiative under Act 766. We call on the government, once again, to convene a stakeholder consultative meeting to discuss this and other pertinent issues about pension,” it said.

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Social interventions

In a related development, Professor Eric Osei-Assibey, of the Department of Economics, University of Ghana, says he expects the government to introduce innovative ways to generate more revenue domestically to help finance government spending, which is likely to increase this year.

According to him, it is imperative for the government to create some fiscal space to spend more to protect the private sector and provide support for the vulnerable.

For instance, he says, government expenditure on social protection is expected to increase, as more people have lost their sources of income due to the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is not going to be easy for the government, but it will spend more on social interventions. Tax could be raised to generate more revenue to ensure the sustainability of social protection interventions. I expect some innovation in generating revenue domestically because the government can’t keep relying on borrowed funds,” he said in a media interview.

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