President John Mahama
President John Mahama

Ghana can rise to the current economic challenges it is facing, while the proposed IMF programme to stabilise the economy will boost investor confidence in the country.

Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance ?
Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance

This was the upbeat message delivered by President John Mahama and Finance Minister Seth Terkper at the UK-Ghana Trade and Investment Forum in London on Thursday.
The IMF team is due in Ghana next month for a two-week visit to hammer out details of the economic stability programme.
President Mahama told British investors at the Forum that in the last three years the country had suffered from economic instability as a result of price volatility relating to gold and cocoa, Ghana?s main foreign exchange earners. For instance, cocoa price dipped by 40 per cent over the period.
Another financial worry for the government was its annual wage bill of GHc9 billion, which the President said was taking a huge chunk out of the government?s budget.
?In the face of this, the government responded quickly to arrest the trend,? President Mahama said.
He said the government?s aim was to keep expenditure down while increasing revenue.
?We need to provide more pillars on which the economy can stand when there are global commodity price shocks,? he said.
For instance, the service industry has overtaken agriculture in its contribution to GDP.
President Mahama said the government was directing more investment into this sector.
Touching on investment opportunities in Ghana, he told investors that transport infrastructure was a good sector to invest in.
He said the power sector was also another that needed a lot of investment.
?The demand for power in Ghana is rising rapidly because of economic growth in the country,? President Mahama said, adding that the government planned to expand power generation by 5,000 megawatts in the next three years.
He said that the oil and gas sector was beginning to have an impact on the economy, noting that in 2013 it contributed $700 million to the national purse.
This, though, was well behind the cocoa industry, which accounted for $2.7 billion.
In the wider scheme of things, the President said he would like to see speedier economic integration in the ECOWAS region, with Ghana being the hub.
He said he believed it was better to have a market of 350 million as opposed to just 25 million in Ghana.
?So we are looking to integrate our economy within the ECOWAS region so that goods and services can move freely among member states.
?West Africa is safe and open for business and we don?t believe that Ebola will have a negative effect on the region?s economy.
?Ghana is open for business,? President Mahama asserted.
Following the President?s lead, Finance Minister Terkper told investors: ?We expect Ghana to rise to the economic challenges it is facing today.?
He said that for years Ghana had consistently recorded economic growth, with the last few years averaging eight per cent.
But he admitted that there had been instability in the economy because expectations on oil and gas had been high and this had caused the economy to overheat. Mr Terkper said that tax from the sector had been ?grossly overestimated?.
However, Ghana remained a middle income country after rebasing its economy and increasing GDP per capita.
?Population growth has not taken us back to being a low income country,? Mr Terkper told investors, adding that the government had cleared its wage arrears and subsidies were within budget.
Organised by Development Market Associates (DMA), the Forum saw a high level of participation from the Ghana government and British businesses.
DMA noted: ?Over the past decade Ghana has been one of Africa?s economic success stories. It is currently one of the top 20 fastest growing economies in the world.?



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