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2017 Budget to focus on stimulating growth, job creation

March 1, 2017, 2:52 p.m.

Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta is expected to announce the abolition of import levies and taxes among others on some financial services as he prepares to present the 2017 budget in Parliament Thursday.

The Budget presentation, which will be the first of the Akufo-Addo administration would be also expected to spell out sources of funding for a number of the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) promised policies including free senior high school (SHS) and reduction in fuel and utility tariffs.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said government would fund the cost of public SHS for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017/2018 academic year onwards.

He explained that by free SHS there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees and no utility fees.

Spelling out the details of the policy “so that no one in Ghana is left in any doubts”, President Akufo-Addo added that in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”

There has been a raging controversy after Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo in an interview with Joy News said government might use the Ghana Heritage Fund to finance the policy which is starting in the 2017/2018 academic year.

National Democratic Congress (NDC) minority in Parliament described government's decision to use the Heritage Fund as "lazy and incompetent."

At a news conference addressed by former Deputy Finance Minister, Casiel Ato Forson, the NDC MPs said any attempt to divert the Fund could destabilise the economy of the country.

However, Obuasi West Member of Parliament (MP), Kwaku Kwarteng, who is on Parliament’s Finance Committee said government has not taken any definite decision to use the Heritage Fund to finance the free senior high school (SHS) policy.

Also, the Budget is expected to focus on stimulating growth and job creation through private sector development aimed at getting Ghana working again, the NPP has said.

The Budget would include measures to restore fiscal discipline and good economic governance, transparent and accountable use of public resources in accordance with the new Public Financial management law and to provide a credible basis for economic policy clarity going forward.