Seth Terkper, Finance Minister

Provisional data for January and February on the execution of the 2014 budget as revealed by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) showed that while total revenue and grants to Government stood at GH?2.4 billion, representing 2.3 percent of GDP, its spending, including arrears clearance, amounted to 4.1 percent of GDP, approximately over GH?4 billion.

The development resulted in a budget deficit equivalent to 1.8 percent of GDP which were financed entirely from domestic sources.

Henry Kofi Akpenamawu Wampah, Governor of the Central Bank, who disclosed this to journalists at a press conference yesterday in Accra, also indicated that the stock of public debt as at the end of February 2014 was GH?55.6 billion, up from GH?51.6 billion in December 2013.

?Of the total public sector debt, domestic debt constituted 48.5 percent while external debt was 51.5 percent?, Dr Wampah emphasised.

He indicated that provisional estimates of the trade balance for the first two months of 2014 was a deficit of $294.3 million compared to $232.3 million in the corresponding period of 2013.

Gross international reserves as at March 28, 2014 was estimated at $4.7 billion, compared to $5.6 billion at the end of 2013, representing 2.6 months of import cover.

?The imbalances in the fiscal and external sectors, together with continued uncertainties in the external economic environment exerted significant pressure on the domestic currency in the first quarter.

?The local currency therefore depreciated by 17.6 percent against the US dollar for the first quarter of 2014 compared with 1.1 percent in the corresponding period in 2013.?

On external sector developments, the Central Bank Governor noted that in 2013, the continued fiscal pressures together with the challenging external conditions led to pressures on the external accounts, adding that the overall balance of payments deficit remained largely unchanged at $1.2 billion.

?The current account deficit widened to $5.7 billion from $4.9 billion a year earlier. Earnings from gold fell to $5.6 billion, while exports of cocoa beans also declined from $2.2 billion to $1.6 billion due to lower export volumes.?

By Samuel Boadi

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