The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, says the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected the economy, creating job losses and exacerbating the unemployment problem, particularly among the youth.
“As such, the government is ready with a comprehensive programme to tackle this intractable problem. The goal is to create employment opportunities for a million of our young people over the next two and a half years,” the Minister assured.
Mr Ofori-Atta, reading the mid-year budget review, said the government had competently managed the COVID-19 situation and made Ghana’s economy outperformed its peers and recovering faster.
“After recording negative growth in the second and third quarters of 2020, the economy rebounded strongly in the last quarter of the year, continuing well into the first quarter of 2021,” Mr Ofori-Atta added.
He said reports from the Ghana Statistical Service indicated that the overall GDP growth for the first quarter of 2021 was 3.1 per cent, and “the growth was even better excluding oil at 4.6 per cent.
“The Bank of Ghana Composite Index of Economic Activity (CIEA) attests to the strong growth recovery, with the index growing at 33.1 per cent at the end of May 2021 compared to a contraction of 10.23 per cent at the end of May 2020.
On inflation, the Minister said, Ghana is witnessing one of the lowest numbers on record in about two years.
“Inflation, which, at the height of the pandemic, hovered around 11.8 per cent, dropped to 7.5 per cent in May 2021 before inching up slightly to 7.8 per cent in June.
Mr Ofori Atta said the Central Bank, the Bank of Ghana, “will continue to implement appropriate monetary policy to maintain inflation rate within the target of 8+-2 per cent.
According to the Minister, the cedi has been relatively stable in the past four years and maintained its stability even in this pandemic year.
Also, he said for the first time in the Fourth Republic, the exchange rate did not see a spike after an election year, and cumulatively, from the beginning of the year to date, the exchange rate has depreciated by 0.6 per cent against the US Dollar and appreciating by 3.6 per cent against the Euro.
“This stability is expected to continue as we move towards the close of the year,” the Minister indicated, and added that “the relatively strong performance of the external sector led to an increase in the reserves position to US$11.0 billion, equivalent to 5.0 months of imports, one of the highest on record.”
That, he said, compared well with a reserved position of US$9.2 billion, equivalent to 4.3 months imports cover, in the corresponding period last year.