Despite the tightening of the public purse, which will see government expenditure controlled in 2018, the policies initiated by government do not support the idea that cash will be scarce in the economy, President of Groupe Ideal, Nii Kotei Dzani, has said.
“It is true that the biggest chunk of government’s revenue is locked up in interest payments and emoluments but at the same time several policies initiated by the government and recent activities show that there will be enough liquidity in the system next year,” he told the B&FT in an interview.
With the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the National Insurance Commission (NIC) increasing the minimum capital requirement of banks and insurance companies, not less than GH¢5billion will be injected into the economy, he said.
“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to increase the stated capital of investment banks and asset management firms from GH¢100,000 to over GH¢3million. Where will all these monies go? Back into the economy to stimulate growth,” he noted.
He added that the final resolution to the three year maritime border dispute between Ghana and the Ivory Coast will lead to increased investment in the oil and gas sector, a highly capital intensive industry. “The positive effect on the supply chain alone is immeasurable.”
Mr. Dzani noted that with increased cocoa production in 2017, next year will see a boost in that sector. “Cocoa is one of the biggest contributors to foreign exchange and income to thousands of farmers, that is more cash in the system as well.”
He therefore projected that the economy could see more than GH¢10billion in investments across banking, insurance, oil and gas and the cocoa sectors and most of that cash will be circulated in the system.
“Let me admit that this year we have a bit of a challenge with the scarcity of cash in the system and that should be expected because any time there is an election, the subsequent year sees challenges and spending is limited to statutory obligations, including honouring our debt obligations and emoluments.
But moving forward into next year, I believe that the government has put in policies and measures to stimulate economic growth. The removal of some taxes and the introduction of some incentives should go a long way to support businesses,” he said.
Kenneth Thompson of Dalex Finance has, however, argued that with 80percent of government revenue locked up in interest payments and emoluments, he was not sure the scarcity of cash would be cured in 2018.
“Our inability to raise these revenues could threaten the pet politician programmes, and credibility issues for government could begin to creep in,” he said. “What we need to do is to increase the tax base. Let us find ways to tax the informal sector in a meaningful way through appropriate incentives which will encourage them to pay.”
Unless government revenue is increased, cash for investment in the economy remains low,” he argued in his analysis of the 2018 budget. “And without investment there is very little economic activity. Cash is ‘tight’ and it does not appear 2018 will be any better.”
Nii Kotei Dzani, however, argues that since economies are susceptible to speculation, comments like Ken Thompson’s tend to worsen the situation.
“Do not forget that every economy reacts to speculations and so when you begin to speculate about scarcity of cash – do not forget that consumers are rational beings – what happens is that consumers become careful in spending and that has a negative effect on the economy.
In terms of liquidity, I believe a lot of good news is coming through and with the Central Bank determining how much cash or liquidity is in circulation, we are on the right trajectory,” he added.