Akufo-Addo outlines stringent measures against economic challenges

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has outlined policy measures that would help reduce the country’s over-dependence on foreign goods, and increase appetite for local goods as part of measures to save the ailing Ghanaian economy.

To this end, the government has outlined stringent measures to limit the importation of goods into the country.

“Much as we believe in free trade, we must work to ensure that the majority of goods in our shops and market places are those we produce and grow here in Ghana.

“Exports, not imports, must be our mantra! Accra, after all, hosts the headquarters of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” President Akufo-Addo said yesterday during an address to the nation on the economy.

Immediate measures

The measures to be taken, according to the President, include reviewing the standards required for imports into the country, prioritise the imports, as well as review the management of foreign exchange reserves, in relation to imports of products such as rice, poultry, vegetable oil, tooth picks, pasta, fruit juice, bottled water and ceramic tiles, and others which, with intensified government support and that of the banking sector, can be manufactured and produced in sufficient quantities in Ghana.

Additionally, he disclosed that government has taken some steps to restore order in the forex markets, and will not relent until order is completely restored.

The actions taken include enhanced supervisory action by the Bank of Ghana in the forex bureau markets and the black market to flush out illegal operators, as well as ensuring that those permitted to operate legally abide by the market rules.

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He said “fresh inflows of dollars are providing liquidity to the foreign exchange market, and addressing the pipeline demand” while “the Bank of Ghana has given its full commitment to the commercial banks to provide liquidity to ensure the wheels of the economy continue to run in a stabilized manner, till the IMF Programme kicks in and the financing assurances expected from other partners also come in.”

“Further, Government is working with the Bank of Ghana and the oil producing and mining companies to introduce a new legal and regulatory framework to ensure that all foreign exchange earned from operations in Ghana are, initially, paid to banks domiciled in Ghana to help boost the domestic foreign exchange market; and the Bank of Ghana will enhance its gold purchase programme.

“I am confident that these immediate measures designed to change the structure of our balance of payment flows, sanitise the foreign exchange market to ensure that the banks and forex bureaus operate along international best practices, together with strengthened supervision, will go a long way to sanitize our foreign exchange market, and make it more resilient against external vulnerabilities going forward,” the President said.

Engagement

As part of measures to deal with the growing cost of living, the President said he had held fruitful engagements with the Trades Union Congress and Organised Labour, the Ghana Employers’ Association, the Association of Ghana Industries, the Ghana Association of Banks, the Private Enterprise Federation, the Association of Forex Bureau Operators, the Association of Market Queens and Women, all of whom represent important stakeholders of the Ghanaian economy.

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“They expressed their concerns and proposed solutions on how best to solve our problems. I have been encouraged by the enthusiasm of these interest groups to help Government address these challenges, and I intend to continue these engagements with other groups,” he said.

The President admitted that the country is in crisis, but assured Ghanaians that measures were being taken to deal with the crisis.

“Government is working to secure reliable and regular sources of affordable petroleum products for the Ghanaian market. It is expected that this arrangement, when successful, coupled with a stable currency will halt the escalation of fuel prices and bring relief to us all,” he noted.

The President added that his engagement with market queens disclosed that another factor fueling the high prices is the high margins that some traders are slapping on goods, for fear of future higher costs.

“I say to our traders, we are all in this together. Please, let us be measured in the margins we seek. I have great respect and admiration for the ingenuity and hard work of our traders, especially those that take on the distribution of foodstuffs around the country, and I would hesitate to join in calling them names. I do make a heartfelt appeal that we all keep an eye out for the greater good, and not try to make the utmost profits out of the current difficulties,” he noted.

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He added that government would continue with the policy of 30 per cent cut in the salaries of political office holders, including the President, Vice-President, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MMDCEs, and SOE appointees in 2023, “just as we will continue with the thirty percent (30%) cut in discretionary expenditures of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.”

Long term measures

Meanwhile, the President has disclosed that the government plans to reduce total public debt to GDP ratio to some fifty-five percent (55%) in present value terms by 2028, with the servicing of our external debt pegged at not more than eighteen percent (18%) of our annual revenue also by 2028.

“We are committed to improving the revenue collection effort, from the current tax-revenue to GDP ratio of thirteen (13%) to between eighteen and twenty percent (18-20%), to be competitive with our peers in the West Africa Region. The GRA is rolling out an extensive set of measures to support this enhanced revenue mobilisation. All of us must do our patriotic duty, and support the GRA in this exercise,” the President appealed.

On energy, the President said government had decided to review the reforms in the sector by capping statutory funds, implementing the exemptions Act and a new property rate regime.

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