Ghana�s Foreign Reserves Now $3Billion

The Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffour, says the country�s gross foreign reserves, which shot up to about three billion dollars at the end of December, 2009, from two billion in December 2008, wills strengthen the cedi and enhance its competitiveness in attracting foreign investors. He said the downward inflation trend of 20.7 percent in June 2009 to 15.9 per cent in December 2009, was also a major achievement that would bring widespread economic benefits to the country. �Available statistics show that inflation will continue to drop in the coming months,� he said in answer to questions in Parliament yesterday. The questions were posed by Joseph Ampomah Bosompem (NPP Akim Swedru) who wanted to know what practical measures the government was taking to stimulated productivity and economic growth. The minister was also asked how his ministry was reinvigorating the private sector to absorb the teeming unemployed youth. Dr Duffour said, �the rapid depreciation of the cedis against the dollar has abated and the rate is now stabilised.� He told the House that, implicitly, the private sector could now import more intermediary goods at lower cost to strengthen their businesses. He said the benchmark average interest rates on the 91-day treasury bills reduced from 24.9 per cent on December 4, 2009 to 17.8 per cent on February 5, 2009. �This is a clear indication that policies are working and the economy is entering into a cycle of declining interest rates,� he said. This statement attracted cat-calls from the NPP opposition MPs, who shouted, �the government is not spending. People want money in their pockets.� After the speaker called them to order, the finance Minister was urged to continue in statement. The minister said the macroeconomic stability achieved so far, has brought about some certainty, which would enable the private sector to plan. �We have seen six successive months of sustained appreciation in the value of the domestic currency against the dollar. This is expected to have a calming effect on inflationary pressures in the economy,� he said. In the area of agriculture, Dr Duffour said the government had instituted measures to improve productivity in selected food security commodities, small ruminants and fisheries sub-sectors. He said a mechanisation centre with full complement of equipment was being established in each of the remaining 90 districts, in addition to the 80 already established. On public sector reforms, the Minister said in 2009 alone, the government provided financial clearance for the employment of over 26,529 new officers into the public sector. Out of this number, 14,206 were recruited into the education sector, 11,714 for the health sector, and 609 for the remaining ministries, departments and agents. �As you can see, there is nothing like �Freeze on Employment,� he said.