BY: Mary Quartey
National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS)
Hon Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has today presented the 2021 budget in parliament. he has been appointed as the Caretaker Finance Minister while awaiting the Finance Minister Mr. Ken Ofori Atta who is undertaking treatment from Covid-19 challenges.
Speaking on the National rental Assistance Scheme in parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu disclosed that, the establishment of a National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) will be established.
Mr. Speaker, in partnership with the private sector, we will commence the establishment of a National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS), with a seed of GH¢100 million. The scheme will crowd-in additional investment from the private sector, to provide low-interest loans to eligible Ghanaians to enable them pay rent advance.
Also touching on the issue of the establishment of a National Cathedral in the country, he said, the existence of the National Cathedral remains a national priority. Despite delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, work is on course to construct the iconic edifice in the heart of the nation’s capital he added.
Mr. Speaker, the National Cathedral of Ghana, which will provide an interdenominational sacred space for the nation, remains a national priority. Despite delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, work is on course to construct the iconic edifice in the heart of the nation’s capital.
The construction of the National Cathedral is already introducing some critical innovations to the country. As part of the construction, over 200 trees on the site of the Cathedral, some of which are nearly 100 years, have been relocated to a temporary site by Department of Parks and Gardens. Some of the trees would be brought back upon completion of the Cathedral, and others replanted elsewhere making edifice environmentally sustainable.
On the issue of roads and construction, he said Government will review existing road tolls and align them with current market rates. This will form part of the framework for promoting burden-sharing as we seek to transform our road and infrastructure sector in a post-COVID era.
Budget: Enhanced Student Loan Scheme.
Mr. Speaker, we will also commence the planning towards the implementation of the Enhanced Student Loan Scheme to provide students, with the exception of teacher and nurse trainees, an option to obtain a student loan without the requirement of a guarantor. The prospective student must have a National Identification Number from the GhanaCard.
Securities and Exchange Commission
Mr. Speaker, for the Securities and Exchange Commission to fully settle investors of the remaining 17 AMCs, an amount of GH¢5.5 billion (1.3% of GDP) is required.
For this reason, we have come to this august House once again to seek for your approval to raise an amount of GH¢5.5 billion in 2021 to complete the asset management industry bailout, including Gold Coast Fund Management Ltd (now Blackshield Capital Management), First Banc Financial Services Limited, Liberty Asset Management, Beige Capital Asset Management Ltd, Ideal Capital Partners Ltd, and Frontline Capital Advisors Ltd.
As a Government, we have amply demonstrated our ability, resolve, and determination to change the trajectory of our economy. While COVID-19 has been a major disruptive force, it has reinforced our conviction to transform our society and to do so with greater urgency. As Isaiah 9:10 says “The bricks are fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.” I want to reassure this august House and the people of Ghana that in 2021;
- We will return to a path of fiscal consolidation and sustained growth;
- We will continue to implement people-centered policies;
- We will continue and consolidate our major flagships to improve welfare;
- We will change the culture of uncompleted projects and finish what has been started;
- We will continue to invest in the real sector to drive growth;
- We will accelerate the industrialization and transformation of our economy and move away from the Guggisberg economy. We will prioritize support to the private sector and entrepreneurship to create jobs and improve incomes;
- We will make Ghana a hub for commerce, financial services, and manufacturing to take full advantage of the AfCFTA, the world’s largest free trade area;
- We will continue to invest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to support every aspect of our economy;
- We will continue the digitalization agenda to improve public service delivery and enhance revenue mobilization;
- We will prioritize the security and safety of our people;
We will secure higher returns on our mineral resources by using innovative structures;
- We will aggressively and efficiently implement the GhanaCARES through well-structured delivery units.
1% VAT HEALTH LEVY (COVID-19 Health Levy)
Mr. Speaker, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused additional health spending that far exceeds the annual budget for health.
Some of the actions that are being implemented by Government to address this pandemic include:
Procurement of vaccines, the first batch of 600,000 doses from the COVAX Facility have already been delivered and an additional seventeen million, six hundred thousand (17,600,000) vaccine doses to be delivered by June, with more to come in the course of the year.
Budget: Transport Sector Recapitalisation Project (TSRP)
Mr. Speaker, we will also commence work towards the implementation of a long-term Lease-To-Own financing arrangement for commercial vehicle owners and operators who need to replace aged and un-roadworthy commercial vehicles.
WƆN YA WƆ HIƐƐ BUDGET!!
Mr. Speaker, by this unity of purpose, we will stand as one people speaking one language of progress to unleash the energies of our people for social mobility and shared prosperity, as we take great strides to move our Nation forward. Mr. Speaker, I present to you, the WƆN YA WƆ HIƐƐ BUDGET!!
Mr. Speaker, this Government believes that the Ghanaian state is a daring state, a resilient nation; the recent victory by the national under-20 football team, the Black Satellites, on Independence Day reminds us that when we are united in purpose, and work together as a team, we can do extraordinary things. Whiles, we debate and may disagree on issues, we should always be united on the broad goal of advancing the welfare and progress of our people, principle beyond partisan politics in principle. There is more to us than we have so far realized. As the Lord said in Genesis 11:5 “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them”.
Energy Sector Recovery Levy (Delta Fund)
Mr. Speaker, it would be recalled that when crude oil prices increased substantially between 2017 and 2018, the Government abolished excise taxes and reduced the special petroleum tax from 17.5 percent to 13 percent to mitigate the impact on domestic petroleum prices.
However, due to the difficulties faced by our economy arising from higher excess capacity payments in the energy sector, which have not reflected in electricity tariffs.
Despite the substantial progress made by the Akufo-Addo Government, there is the need to find additional resources to cover the excess capacity charges that have resulted from the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) signed by the previous Government which required payments for capacity charges even when the plants involved were idle or unutilized.
Mr. Speaker, it has become very necessary for Government to consider a review of the energy sector levies. The Energy Sector Recovery Levy of 20 pesewas per liter on petrol/diesel under the ESLA is hereby submitted to this House for approval.
Mr. Speaker, I should note that on the basis of existing world crude oil prices, the implementation of the two proposed levies for sanitation and pollution as well as to pay for excess capacity charges, would result in a 5.7% increase in petroleum prices at the pump.