Government has through the 2021 budget unveilled four major socio-economic initiatives: geared at enhancing the quality of life for citizens, supporting domestic entrepreneurs and businesses, and deepening access to public services.
The initiatives include National Equipment Leasing Policy (NELP), Transport Sector Recapitalisation Project (TSRP), National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) and Enhanced Student Loan Scheme, and are expected to be implemented right after approval of the budget by lawmakers.
Presenting the 2021 Budget which was on the theme ‘Consolidation, Completion and Continuation’ or the ‘Wɔn Ya Wɔ Hiɛɛ’ budget, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the new and enhanced initiatives are expected to be game-changers.
National Equipment Leasing Policy (NELP)
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu explained that a leasing agreement is being put together to help manage capital expenditure among state institutions. “Government will formulate a national equipment leasing policy to cover medical equipment, vehicles, photocopiers, printers and scanners among others, as part of the measures to more efficiently manage our capital expenditure budget,” he said.
Transport Sector Recapitalisation Project (TSRP)
Last year, at the peak of the conversation on whether or not to legalise commercial motorcycle riders – popularly known as Okada, Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia said government would not legalise commercial motorcycles because the riders will have a better option by acquiring newly-assembled vehicles in the country through a lease arrangement.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu announced that the policy has been finalised and will come into effect this year. “We will also commence work toward implementing a long-term Lease-To-Own financing arrangement for commercial vehicle owners and operators who need to replace aged and un-roadworthy commercial vehicles.”
National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS)
He also indicated that government will be introducing an initiative to reduce the burdensome processing some people go through before they are able to rent decent homes.
“In partnership with the private sector, we will commence the establishment of a National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS), with a seed-money of GH¢100million. The scheme will crowd-in additional investment from the private sector to provide low-interest loans for eligible Ghanaians to enable them pay rent advance.”
Enhanced Student Loan Scheme
University students were not left out of the budget statement, as they will soon be able to access loan facilities to support their education with no guarantor needed as existed in the past.
Government has noted that the compulsory requirement of a guarantor before loans are advanced to students remain a major challenge. It was realised that the guarantor provision also served as a disincentive to acquiring financial support for continuing university education; and in some instances, students were forced to pull out of university education.
“We will also commence planning toward 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 Ghana Card,” Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.