The government says the fight against poverty and joblessness is no longer an option because it is a matter of national security to which it is determined to overcome.
It is against this background that the government has resolved to invest heavily in key policy initiatives and flagship projects, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, announced in Parliament Wednesday while presenting the government’s 2018 annual budget to the House.
More than 1.2 million persons from 15 years and older are estimated to be unemployed, according to the 2015 Ghana Labour Force Survey Report commissioned by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS).
The figure represents the total unemployment rate of 11.9% of the country’s labour force.
Themed “Putting Ghana Back to Work,” the 2018 budget will provide the impetus that will “energize the entrepreneurial spirit within every Ghanaian,” he stated.
Mr. Ofori Atta said the government’s “policy priorities for 2018 and beyond promise two vital ingredients for any serious progressive society: opportunity and prosperity.”
According to him, the key initiatives through which the government seeks to generate employment are: Planting for Food and Jobs, Stimulus Package for distressed industries, One District One Factory and the Zongo Development Fund.
The rest include: National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme, Free SHS, National Identification Scheme as well as National School Feeding Programme.
“Mr Speaker, we have prioritized investments in these areas to ensure that we establish a fair and inclusive society, which creates life-transforming, productive opportunities for every able Ghanaian.
“We are confident that these priorities will not only deliver jobs, but will improve the security and wellbeing of Ghanaians and communities across the country by increasing agricultural growth and development, providing decent work through skill and entrepreneurship development and industrialization, as well as increasing opportunities for all through the provision of quality education and health delivery.
“Mr. Speaker, our policy priorities for 2018 and beyond promise two vital ingredients for any serious progressive society: opportunity and prosperity. For us the fight against poverty and unemployment is not optional. It is a national security issue. We intend to pursue this goal of building a society of equal opportunity responsibly, by protecting our natural endowments and, at the same time, adding value to the exploitation of these rich resources under our custody.
The Finance Minister said: “Given that the President has been honoured to co-chair the UN advocacy group for the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Ghana is taking a leadership role, with this budget, in driving this sustainable transformational agenda, particularly, in Africa.”
“Mr. Speaker, for a successful implementation of the SDGs, we need to involve all sectors of society. Let us move beyond this budget cycle and make the SDGs flow through the DNA of Ghanaians in our efforts to meet the 2030 targets for the Sustainable Development Goals and the embedded Paris Agreement for climate action.
He stressed that, the job of the Akufo-Addo Government is to assist the people with the tools and the environment to go out there to work and earn a decent living and improve their lives.
“Mr. Speaker, it is time for Ghanaians to arise and build. It is time for all Ghanaians to put their shoulders to the wheel and to speak the same ‘language’ – ‘then nothing will be impossible for us.’
“We must come together in a new partnership with our faith-based institutions, civil society, businesses and government to create a powerful locomotive for transformation so that our President’s coordinated program of economic and social development policies will create ‘an optimistic, self-confident and prosperous nation through the creative exploitation of our human and natural resources and operating within a democratic, open and fair society in which mutual trust and economic opportunities exist for all.’