After over an hour of explaining what the government has done and intends to do before the year ends, opinions have expectedly been divided.
Mr. Ofori-Atta touched on the government’s expenditure so far, as well as relief options to alleviate Ghanaians from the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
He further reiterated President Akufo-Addo’s conviction that government knows how to bring the economy back despite the devastating impact of the pandemic.
The Minister, however, noted that although government is doing its best to hold the economy, things will not be easy.
He said the pandemic has had a negative effect on the world economy and Ghana’s economy has been no different.
Below is a 10-point summary of the Finance Minister’s mid-year budget review presentation:
1. Leadership in handling COVID-19
The Finance Minister noted that government has been decisive in its leadership and handling of the pandemic.
He mentioned the extra allowance to frontline health workers, income tax exemption for all health sector workers and a GHc560 million kitty for the National Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan.
He also pointed to the refurbishment and expansion of some 10 treatment centers across the country, GHc54.3 million used to feed the poor and vulnerable during lockdown, as well as the evacuation of Ghanaians who were stranded abroad.
2. Measures to mitigate COVID-19 in schools
Mr. Ofori-Atta outlined measures taken by government to ensure that Ghanaians, both young and old, are safe from COVID-19.
He said over 600,000 face masks have been distributed to tertiary institutions nationwide, while thousands of liquid soap, hand sanitizers, and thermometer guns have also be shared.
He Minister added that a total of 1,167 Senior High Schools (SHS) have also been fumigated and disinfected to ensure that students are safe.
He added that Junior High Schools (JHS) have also been given hand sanitizers, veronica buckets and thermometer guns.
3. Goodies and freebies to Ghanaians
The Finance Minister outlined a couple of goodies the government is offering Ghanaians to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He announced that government’s absorption of water and electricity bills has been extended for another three months.
He also revealed that the Communication Service Tax (CST) has been reduced from 9% to 5%.
4. National Unemployment Insurance Scheme
Mr. Ofori-Atta also announced a National Unemployment Insurance Scheme, which is to offer temporary income to persons who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
Under the scheme, laid off workers will have access to restraining to take advantage of new job opportunities.
The Finance Minister said plans are already underway on the design and legislation of the scheme.
5. COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES)
The Minister also shed light on the Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES).
He said government aims to ensure food security, protect businesses and workers, strengthen the health system, attract private investments and support Ghanaian businesses.
6. Agricultural modernization
The Finance Minister also spoke about agricultural modernization programmes by the government.
He said 1.5 million farmers have enrolled under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, while 6,270 units of agricultural machinery and equipment have been supplied to farmers.
He added that 700,000 MT of fertilisers, both organic and inorganic, have been distributed to farmers and 300,00 MT of improved seeds of maize, rice, soybean, tomato, onion, sorghum, and pepper have also been supplied to farmers across the country.
7. Expansion of LEAP programme
Mr. Ofori-Atta said government has also successfully expanded the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) programme.
According to him, the LEAP programme has been expanded to 334,084 households across the country.
He said the number of beneficiaries under the school feeding programme have also increased from 1,671,766 in 2016 to 2,980,00 currently.
He added that a combined almost 100,000 nursing and teacher trainees have also benefited from allowances since 2017.
Support for entrepreneurs
8. Update on ‘Year of Roads” project
Also contained in the mid-year budget review presentation was a detailed update on the ‘Year of Roads’ project.
The Finance Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped road projects from being constructed.
He said the Enchi-Dadieso Road and Bolga-Bawku Road have been completed, while others across the country are at various stages of construction.
9. Infrastructure for poverty eradication
Mr. Ofori-Atta also did a presentation on the infrastructure geared towards eradicating poverty in the country.
He said government has completed 568 community-based mechanized water systems, 41 prefabricated grain warehouses, 88 small earth dams and 600 10-seater water closet toilets.
He added that 32 rural markets have also been completed, while 10,000 hospital beds have been acquired to boost admission and 10 community clinics completed.
10. Projects for Inner Cities and Zongos
The Finance Minister went ahead to trumpet some governmental projects that have uplifted the inner cities and zongos.
He said five youth parks have been constructed at Akim Oda, Old Tafo-Kumasi, Yeji, Salaga and Bolga, while 654 boreholes are also under construction.
He said 354 youth have been trained in vocational skills and 982 household toilets have been completed, with over a thousand others under construction.