The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has announced the establishment of the 'Akufo-Addo Programme for Economic Transformation' (AAPET) to accelerate investments in Agriculture, Strategic Infrastructure and Industrialization.
Mr Ofori-Atta made this known when he presented to Parliament the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.
Under the programme, Mr Ofori-Atta said, government would modernize agriculture, improve production efficiency, achieve food security and increase profitability for farmers while creating new businesses and job opportunities in the sector.
AAPET, he said, was, therefore, a three-pronged economic development programme that would see government investing in infrastructure that supported the opening up of the major agricultural zones of the country and in energy, and related infrastructure to accelerate the industrialization agenda of government.
"Significant investments will be made in the road and rail sectors of the economy to: facilitate trade and the movement of goods and people and abolish duties on some agricultural produce processing equipment and machinery; support the development of agribusiness start-ups; provide a Gh¢ 400 million Fund to de-risk the agriculture and agribusiness sector through sustainable agriculture financing and crop insurance schemes; increase the pace of agricultural mechanization; provide specific technical assistance and tax incentives to support agro-processing, packaging, and market access; launch a major pension scheme for cocoa farmers; ramp up investments under the Planting for Food and Jobs (seeds, subsidized fertilizer, etc); develop modern storage facilities through the "One District, One Warehouse" programme; implement a grant funding facility for agribusiness start-ups; launch the commodities exchange and open up key food basket zones through road construction and irrigation projects."
Mr Ofori-Atta announced that government was proposing the Nation Builders Corps, as a major government initiative to address livelihood empowerment and graduate unemployment to solve economic and social problems.
He said the focus of the initiative would be resolving challenges in public service delivery in health, education, agriculture, sanitation and drive revenue mobilization and, collection.
Under the Nation Builders Corps programme, he said, 100, 000 graduates would be hired in 2018, trained and equipped with the necessary work tools, and deployed around the country to be engaged as graduate teachers in a "Teach Ghana" programme; sanitation inspectors hired in a "Clean Ghana" programme; trained nurses and other healthcare workers recruited in a "Heal Ghana" programme; trained agricultural extension and other allied workers deployed in a "Feed Ghana" programme; and tertiary graduates mobilized in a "Revenue Ghana" programme to collect taxes that had been difficult to mobilize and enforce collection for the development of Ghana.
Mr Ofori-Atta announced that government, in fulfillment of its campaign promise, had reviewed the tariff setting methodology and cost structure of power production.
In that regard, he said, in 2018, efforts would be geared towards keeping the lights on at affordable rates to consumers, particularly industries and small businesses, through reform and policy interventions over a two-year period.
He said if government recommendations to PURC were accepted, consumers would be expected to benefit from reductions in electricity tariffs with an average reduction between 13 per cent and 21 per cent from the residential consumer to the high voltage mines.
Touching on business development, the Minister announced that government would develop and implement a comprehensive National Entrepreneurship Policy in 2018 and continue to facilitate and support private sector business entrepreneurial development.
On interventions to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, as stated in United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, Mr Ofori-Atta told Parliament that in 2018, government would increase the installed generation capacity by about 487MW (Cenpower; 340MW, Early Power Phase 1; 147MW) to meet the growing demand of electricity.
In addition, he said, government would embark on Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) Solar Rooftop Programme to reduce expenditure on utilities.
Source: ISD (Eva Frempon-Ntiamoah)