President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated in clear terms that Ghana under his tenure will be defined by integrity, sovereignty, a common ethos, discipline and shared values.
“It is one where we aim to be masters of our own destiny, where we mobilise our own resources for the future, breaking the shackles of the ‘Guggisberg’ colonial economy and a mind-set of dependency, bailouts and extraction.
“It is an economy where we look past commodities to position ourselves in a global marketplace. It is a country where we focus on trade, not aid, a hand-up, not a hand-out. It is a country with a strong private sector. It is a country that recognises the connectedness of its people and economy to those of its neighbours,” the President stated.
President Akufo-Addo made these remarks in Parliament yesterday when he presented the Message on the State of the Nation, in accordance with Article 67 of the Constitution.
The address was the first message of the President in his second term.
No narrow interests
Whilst acknowledging the last week’s ruling of the seven-member panel of the Supreme Court, which affirmed his Presidency, the President stated that despite the setbacks encountered by his government in the first term, “we were confident our record in office would put us in good stead before the electorate, and earn us a second term in office, which it did.”
“It means that the reason for which the Ghanaian people went to the polls on 7th December, i.e to seek an improvement in their living standards and the rapid transformation of the economy, must continue in earnest. It means that the clarion call of ‘Four More for Nana and the NPP to do more for you’ must be realised, and I intend to do so,” he promised.
He commended the Parliamentarians, from both sides of the House, for seeking to work together in the interest of Ghana.
“This is what the Ghanaian people demand from us by insisting on virtual parity in the House between the two major parties of our country. The realisation of the Ghana Project, and not the attainment of narrow partisan interests, must be the guiding principle of the business to be conducted in the House,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo drew the attention of the House to how the impact of the novel coronavirus virtually affected all the sectors of the economy just when the government had made some considerable gains in the management of the national economy.
“…we witnessed annual average GDP growth of seven per cent, single digit inflation, reduced fiscal deficits with three consecutive years of primary surpluses, a relatively stable exchange rate, a significant improvement in the current account with three consecutive years of trade surpluses, strong foreign exchange reserve buffers, markedly reduced lending rates, and appreciable job creation,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo mentioned that, according to the COVID-19 Business Tracker survey, some 770,000 workers had their wages reduced, while 42,000 employees were laid off during the three-week partial lockdown imposed on the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi Metropolitan areas and their contiguous districts, Tema and Kasoa, as result of the pandemic.
“Indeed, the cost of COVID-19 has been enormous. Our overall economic growth rate for 2020 was revised downwards from 6.8% to 0.9%. The non-oil economy was also revised from 6.7% to 1.6%. Revenue shortfall was estimated at GH¢13.5 billion, with additional expenditures related to stemming the tide of COVID-19 estimated at GH¢11.8 billion, with the combined effect amounting to GH¢25.3 billion, or 6.6% of GDP.
“The resultant fiscal deficit for 2020 was, thus, revised from 4.7% of GDP to 11.4% of GDP. This was done to reflect the impact of the pandemic. The fiscal responsibility rule of keeping a deficit within a threshold of 5% of GDP and a positive primary balance for every year was suspended in 2020 to enable fiscal operations accommodate the impact of the pandemic,” he said.
The President reiterated that, as announced last year, the Agenda 111, which will see to the construction of 100-bed district hospitals in 10 districts with no hospitals, as well as other places in the country, was on course.
“Construction of some of these hospitals has commenced, and will continue without interruption. Agenda 111, the largest ever investment in healthcare infrastructure in our history, is part of a massive vision for Ghana’s healthcare sector,” he stated.
The President added that the realisation of this vision would ensure that Ghana becomes a ‘Centre of Medical Excellence’ and a destination for medical tourism.
“Government will continue to invest in the health sector, and will continue to recruit more health professionals, in addition to the one hundred thousand recruited in my first term for our health facilities,” he added.