The two West Africa Regional Blocs, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) are meeting to identify priority investment projects in the area of transport and energy.

The meeting, which is under the European External Investment Plan is a preparatory technical meeting would enable the participants exchange, share ideas and review information on the Region’s initiatives in the two sectors to facilitate free movement and trade.

Mr Pathe Gueye, the Commissioner of Infrastructure at the ECOWAS, speaking at the opening of a five-day meeting on Monday in Accra said it had been the ultimate goal to ensure intra-trade but poor transport infrastructure had thwarted the realization of the goal.

The sector, he said had not played its rightful role effectively and efficiently due to factors including poor road conditions, poor coordination of road management and high cost of transportation.

“Aside from the problem on our roads, the railway networks are not interconnected and they are outdated,” he said.

Mr Gueye said the European Union (EU) and West Africa signed a major financing agreement of €1,150 million for various sectors including transport and energy.

He said the funding marked a turning point, a new era of European Union and West Africa cooperation, in the infrastructure sector, with investments in the form of mixed financing or “blending” and support for the transport and energy governing bodies.

The Commissioner said, an initial total amount of approximately €330 million had been invested in infrastructure, of which approximately 168 million euros has been invested into energy and 162 million euros in transport.

An allocation of €70 million, he said had also been made to the governing bodies of which €32 million was for energy and 38 million euros for transport.

“These investments have already financed seven energy projects and ten transport projects in West Africa and the Region wants to plan towards the development of a new portfolio of projects,” he said.

Mr Kwesi Amoako Atta, Minister of Roads and Highways said a consultant had been commissioned to commence feasibility studies on the Abidjan-Lagos Expressway Project adding that the West African Growth Ring Masterplan (WAGRM) had been completed.

He said the WAGRM had economic potential that could enhance the collective growth of Ghana, Togo, La Cote D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

The Minister said ECOWAS continues to facilitate the construction of Joint Border Posts, of which the one at Akanu/Noepe located between Ghana and Togo, was commissioned in October last year jointly by the President of Ghana and Togo.

He said Ghana’s two main international road corridors and coastal corridor would play an important role in serving the regional trade.

“As much as we have made the effort to manage the continuous maintenance and attempting to reduce the physical and non-physical barriers to trade, we continue to face challenges due to the low commitment of our neighbours to regional protocols regarding axle loads,” he said.

Ghana’s macroeconomic outlook is now better than five years ago when she went in for the IMF programme Dr Albert Tourna Mama, Ghana’s Resident Representative at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has said.

He noted that for the first time in a decade, Ghana achieved a primary surplus in 2017 and 2018, while the key macroeconomic indicators were trending positively.

He expressed the belief that some efficient policies rolled out by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Finance Ministry played a pivotal role in the success story.

Dr Tourma Mama, who is a member of the committee that reviewed Ghana’s IMF programme recently, announced that it would present its final report to the Executive Board of the IMF yesterday, March 20, and chart the way forward towards sustaining the country’s economy for accelerated growth.

Dr Tourna Mama made the remarks when contributing to a panel discussion on Ghana’s macroeconomic environment and how it could attract private sector investment at the ongoing Africa Climate Week (ACW) at the Accra International Conference Centre.

The 2019 Africa Climate Week (ACW) is being held under the theme: ‘Climate action in Africa: A race we can win’.

The five-day event, organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Government of Ghana and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), brought together diverse actors from the public and private sectors to firm up the action plan to deal with the negative effects of climate change.

For instance, he said, the BoG cut the monetary policy rate by more than 400 basis points, and at the last Monetary Committee Meeting in January, this year, the bank also cut the monetary rate from 100 per cent to 60 per cent, which were positive achievements.

Those positive outcomes, Dr Mama said, culminated in the high rating given the nation by the Standard and Poor’s, an international rating agency, last year in addition to the high patronage of the government’s Eurobond issued on the global market last year.

He said one of the key conditions with the IMF programme was to strengthen domestic revenue mobilisation and create space for increase in taxes.

Therefore, the landmark legislation presented to Parliament last week was to rationalise tax exemption and increase investment in certain sectors of the economy as well as increase financial viability of some public institutions.

Mr Yaw Anso, a Senior Policy Advisor to the Ministry of Finance, said government’s policies, rolled out in 2017, aided in stabilising and sanitising the macroeconomic environment, which would attract investment to drive economic growth.

He said the nation required innovative solution hence it implemented regulatory and legal policies to engender industrial revolution in addition to the Planting for Food and Jobs, Free Senior High School, and the Revised Company’s Code among other policies.

Mr Anso, for instance, said the country’s economic growth moved from 3.6 per cent in 2016 to 8.1 per cent in 2017 and 5.6 per cent in 2018 adding that that momentum would be maintained.

He said the country’s fiscal deficit of over seven per cent had reduced, inflation declined from 15.4 per cent to 9.2 per cent and monetary policy rate down to 17 per cent from 25 per cent.

In spite of the recent turbulence experienced by the local currency, the exchange rate remained relatively stable, while government was putting in place aggressive measures to tackle the regulatory environment, which determined the environment for doing business in order to improve Ghana’s ranking on doing business, he said.

Mr Anso said it was laudable that the “Ghana Beyond Aid” Committee, which he was a member, submitted its report to the President and one of the policy’s key pillars was to ensure economic sustainability without hurting the business environment.

The Policy Advisor said government had been supporting start-ups, entrepreneurs and venture capitals and believed in leveraging on the private sector in the quest to drive green economic growth revolution.

He said the nation had sufficient expertise to ensure fiscal discipline, especially with the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to cap annual budget deficit to five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

More than 1,000 participants across Africa and the world are attending the ACW conference and these include government agencies, international partners, donor agencies and multi-stakeholders to discuss action plans to mitigate the negative impact of climate change.

The ACW serves as a lead-up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, this year.

Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia will lead an economic management team town hall meeting with stakeholders on the economy on April 3 in Accra.

Minister for Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah who disclosed this at a Press Briefing in Accra said the vice President who is also the head of the Economic Management Team will be speaking on the theme “our progress, our status, our future”.

He said the Town Hall Meetings are designed to bring government closer to the people and shall therefore see State actors give an account to the people who also have an opportunity to ask questions and make contributions to the local and national development process.

“The Meetings represent a major shift in Government’s policy to make information easily accessible and usable to the public here in and outside Ghana.

“This is guided by the Government’s desire to create a very inclusive and participatory society in ensuring that the citizenry here in Ghana and abroad are not only consumers of the development process but are creators and generators of the process,” he said.

The Minister said the platform reflects government’s belief that, the lasting benefits of policies, plans and programs will only be derived through constant engagement with the beneficiaries far and near.

The much anticipated engagement will be attended by civil society groups, economic think tanks, trade unions and stakeholders in the financial sector.

The Ghana cedi has started recording some marginal appreciation against the dollar on the market.

Checks on the market show that on Thursday, March 14 the local currency did appreciate against the dollar by some 5 per cent to trade at around GH¢5.60 compared to about GH¢5.90 last Tuesday and Wednesday.

The local currency again went up marginally on Friday, March 15, 2019 closing at around GH¢5.56, based on JoyBusiness’ checks with some of the major banks in the forex business.

What has caused this sudden turn around for the cedi?

Based on JoyBusiness’ engagement with some treasurers and currency dealers and even persons close to the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the development has largely been influenced by the resumption of some injection of dollar cash by the BoG last week, which some market players describe as significant.

This was after the Bank of Ghana met the IMF’s program target which required it, to build dollar reserves up to a certain level for December 2018 ending date.

The BoG has now crossed the target.

Sources say the market and some investors appear to have bought the assurance from the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta that the cedis will stabilize in two weeks and coupled with the parliamentary approval of the $750 million bridge loan from Standard Chartered Bank.

This has resulted in some customers selling dollars. All these development would increase dollar supply onto the market and this could help stabilize the cedi in the short term.

Is this sustainable?

That has been a million dollar question most market watchers are struggling to answer.

Some have argued that looking at the pickup in dollar supply from the Bank of Ghana and other expected inflows, then it is likely that the development that we have witnessed could continue for a while. However, the structural issues facing the country which increase the amount of dollar demand by businesses and individuals.

This has contributed to the perennial depreciation in the last quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.

Some analysts have argued that, if that problem is not addressed then the challenge would persist and may not end soon.

There has been a rise in the prices of fuel products once again, with a 4% increment starting from Thursday, March 7, 2019.

The increment is as a result of some Oil Marketing Companies reviewing their prices from Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

Fuel prices at the pump have been kept unchanged for some time now – a period which stretches over a month.

This was despite the fact that the prices were supposed to go up within that period. Joy Business reports that the review is in line with adjustments that are supposed to be made to the products every two weeks, due to the deregulation policy.

Meanwhile, it is believed that the fast depreciation of the cedi has played a role in the latest review.

Price movements on the global level can also be attributed to the rise in prices of fuel products.

The report suggests a litre of petrol and diesel is now selling at GH¢5.18 pesewas, from its oil price of GH¢4.94 pesewas, at Shell and Total shops.

This means a gallon of fuel on the market could go for GH¢23.31 pesewas soon.

Meanwhile, the price of kerosene has also seen a 7 per cent increment, with a litre now selling at GH¢4.58.

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