Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, a former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on Tuesday advised government to stick to its ?no new project? policy in the 2013 budget.

He said that is the only way to ensure fiscal discipline and stabilise the country?s economy.

Dr. Botchwey said this when he opened a two-day Budget Advocacy workshop in Accra under the auspices of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) with support from STAR-Ghana.

The workshop is on the theme: ?Tracking the Performance of the 2013 Budget Statement and Expectations for 2014.?
Dr. Botchwey said there is no substitute for discipline in public investment programmes and underscored the need for the country to live within its means.

He identified the servicing of huge arrears from previous years and making unbudgeted expenditures and executing projects more than their estimates as major challenges facing the country, and called for a ?one-shot correction? to put the economy back on track.

?We are currently dealing with cumulative effects of indiscipline, and we need a one-shot correction.?
He said the country must define clearly the criteria for admitting programmes into the budget to avoid spending outside the budget.

?If we are able to hold the line, it will help us; if not, it will affect our productivity,? Dr Botchwey said.
He challenged journalists to help shape national debate on the economy and desist from presenting issues in a ?populist? manner.

Mr. John Gatsi, an economic expert at the University of Cape Coast, said the country needs to develop an internal debt sustainability ratio to consolidate the economy.

He called on government to focus on non-petroleum exports and support locals to go into production instead of engaging foreign intermediaries.

Mr. Zakari Mumuni, an official from the Research Department of the Bank of Ghana, who presented a paper on ?Managing the Current Account Deficit,? said high consumption, low saving, natural disasters and competitiveness accounted for the country?s current account deficit.

He called for the adoption of policies that would boost exports and curtail import of consumables such as rice.
Mr. Lloyd Evans, President of IFEJ, said the workshop was to kick-start debate on the 2014 budget with inputs from the public.


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