MSMEs unperturbed about 2024 budget


…as they do not foresee positive impacts

As the finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta readies to present the 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government today, November 15, 2023, the general mood of small businesses and young entrepreneurs is that of hopelessness.

One would have expected that businesses will be hopeful about a positive impact of the policy statement, but the story is different.

Some small business owners who spoke with the B&FT expressed indifference, citing neglect by the government and unfavorable business environment as major concerns.

Juwaira Osman, is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fruit Fusion, a healthy food business that adds value to fruits and cereals to produce healthy drinks and snacks. She tells the B&FT she is disinterested in today’s budget, as she believes that the outcome of the budget will not change the harsh conditions in which businesses like hers have had to endure for years.

“I really do not care about the budget because I have really lost hope in the government,” she said, citing incessant price hikes on commodities, lack of support from the government.

Another entrepreneur, Pamela Yaa Anokye, who is the CEO of Pamcos, a local skincare manufacturer, also lamented that: “It is out of place to say I do not care about the budget, but I don’t really have a lot of interest in it because in reality we do not see the effect. I am not hopeful because for the past two years, the effects of some policies on business have been terrible. Last year for example, during the budget presentation, we expected that things would be better, but there has been nothing to write home about”.

Citing ridiculous taxes, high utility bills, and low support from government as factors that hamper businesses growth, Pamela noted that the government which has in the past years, encouraged the youth to venture into entrepreneurship to reduce unemployment, has not done much to support businesses by young people.

“About a year or two ago, the finance minister came out to tell the youth to venture into entrepreneurship, but look at how some of the policies are crippling small businesses. How are they supporting businesses owned by young people? With the E-Levy for instance, the masses and business people rejected it but the government forcefully implemented it. What have they been able to do with the revenue accrued from that levy?” she quizzed.

“So that budget they are coming to read; it is the usual quoting of figures, it won’t have any real impact on us,” she further stated.

For Rukaiya Mohammed who is the CEO of Naruk Trading Enterprise, a firm that trades in bulk sale and distribution of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs), though she underscored the relevance of the budget statement, she doubts if it will make any difference.

“Although I do not have any confidence in the budget, as a business owner, I really care about it. Budgetary decisions have a tremendous effect on the economy and businesses. Impacting everything from market conditions and consumer behavior, to regulatory frameworks and taxation policies. The outcome of these decisions can make or break a business. The monetary policies of the budget, particularly interest rates and exchange rates can have an impact on the cost of borrowing, the availability of capital for small firms, and the cost of goods.

“I am aware budget decisions can also have a direct impact on the sales and income of small enterprises by influencing consumer spending habits and confidence. I don’t want to raise my hopes high, but I pray this budget have a positive impact on businesses,” she concluded.

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