President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has charged the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to do all within his power to put the country’s economy on a sound footing as that is what the people of Ghana expect from him and from the Ministry of Finance post COVID-19.
Addressing attendees of the Minister’s swearing in ceremony at the banquet hall of the Jubilee House today the 30th of March 2021, after administering the oaths of office, alligiance and secrecy to the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, President Akufo-Addo said the ravages of the novel corona virus, COVID-19 on the Ghanaian economy are obvious for all to see. However, the nation the President says is looking up to his administration and for that matter the Finance Minister to help rescue the economy from the damage caused it by the pandemic.
“Everyone who watched him (Ken Ofori-Atta) on national television at the Committee hearings can understand why I had little choice but to re nominate him to serve another four years as Minister for Finance and why by the Grace of God he will be at the end of my second and final term of office, the longest serving Finance Minister in the history of the fourth Republic” President Akufo-Addo stated.
“Over two days, he exhibited clarity of thought, a clear understanding of how to grow an economy, and what prospects the economy holds for the Ghanaian people. He provided a staunch defense for his record in office as Finance Minister from 17th February 2017, when he inherited a weak, faulting economy from the Mahama administration and helped nurse the economy back to good health by 6th January 2021” the President further noted.
According to the President, The Finance Minister “highlighted what public service means to him and outlined the plans he has to help revitalize the Ghanaian economy and restore it to the kinds of growth and expansion witnessed before the onset of COVID-19”.
“Mr. Finance Minister, i congratulate you heartily on your appointment and I am sure you know that the Ghanaian people are expecting you to put the economy on a sound footing once again and help lead it out of the ravages of the pandemic” President Akufo-Addo said.
The Minister’s Response
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, in his response, registered his thanks to the President for the confidence he has reposed in him to serve as Finance Minister for another four years. He indicated that he remains committed to the vision of the President which is, building a Ghanaian beyond aid, “a prosperous and self confident Ghana in charge of her economic destiny”.
“Mr. President, the work ahead will be monumental but we are not naive regarding the effort required. Like Nehemiah, we continue to remain resolute in the face of this global pandemic and skepticism and we know our Lord will give us success as He did in the times of Nehemiah and has done for us since we came into government in 2017 with two fish and five loaves” Ken Ofori-Atta said.
The Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, missed his vetting on the 8th of March 2021, due to some post COVID-19 recovery complications he suffered. Ken Ofori-Atta upon advise from his doctors, traveled to the United States on the 14th of February 2021, for specialized treatment. He spent a little over a month in the US for his treatment and recovery.
Developments in the Absence of Finance Minister
As a result of the health challenge of then Finance Minister designate, for the first time in the history of the 1992 Fourth Republican Cconstitution, the budget and economic policy of the ruling government for a fiscal year (2021), was presented to Parliament by another Minister (Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the House) instead of the Finance Minister. The budget received parliamentary approval on the 19th of March 2021 by a majority vote of 137 as against 134.
All of President Akufo-Addo’s substantive Ministers of State and Regional Ministers were vetted by Parliament’s Appointment Committee and subsequently sworn into office by the President following parliamentary approval with the exception of the Finance Minister designate, Ken Ofori-Atta on the 4th of March 2021.
Vetting of Finance Minister
During his vetting on the 25th and 26th of March 2021, Ofori-Atta, identified revenue mobilization under property rates, addressing levels of tax exemptions, and digitization of tax administration and collection as the three main areas of focus in order to raise the needed revenues that the Ghanaian government will require to execute its development agenda.
These three thematic areas, he said, will help push the “current ratio of tax to gross domestic product of about 12.5% to the proposed ratio of at least 17%”, in an effort to progress towards a “Ghana Beyond Aid”.
He described the 2021 Budget statement “as a battle cry” to all Ghanaians “to share the burden” that COVID-19 has placed on the nation. He again noted that aside from the need to burden-share, Ghana must not lose sight of the fact that the 2021 budget seeks to complete at least 8,700 projects as the government’s way of bringing an end to the culture of not completing projects funded with taxpayers’ monies.
“Consolidation is important for us because the macro-economic indicators have been stable, and clearly what we did in the past three and a half years was what was able to support us in 2020 when the pandemic hit,” Ofori-Atta said.
“When you look at the taxes we abolished (in 2017), reduction in electricity and what we have done during this COVID-19 era, clearly, on a net basis, we have not really hurt the Ghanaian taxpayer, if you compare us to the previous government,” Ofori-Atta added.