President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reiterated the government’s resolve to strengthen the private sector and build a Ghana beyond aid to engineer social and economic growth. He has also assured investors that neither his government nor his appointees are in office to compete with the private sector for business opportunities.
“We want to build a Ghana beyond aid; a Ghana which looks to the use of its own resources to build an economy that is not dependent on charity and handouts but an economy that will look at the proper management of its resources to engineer social and economic growth in our country,” he said.
Speaking at a roundtable meeting with some selected chief executive officers (CEOs) of leading African and international companies on the sidelines of the ongoing 5th edition of the Africa CEO Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday, the President said the sentiment of the party out of which his government was born “is instinctively to look for private sector solutions to the economic issues in our country”.
“We are unashamedly the party of the private sector,” he added.
Boost for private sector
Accompanied by the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Mr Yofi Grant, President Akufo-Addo said in recent years the private sector had suffered major deficits, such as poor access to credit, high interest rates, erratic power supply and a business climate that had not been conducive.
“We have started doing something about it. Our first budget outlines some fairly radical, new measures. A lot of the taxes that were brought up in the period when our deficit was growing have either been reduced or abolished. We have taken off as much as GH¢1 billion in taxes out of the revenue net for the doing of business in Ghana, with the commitment of doing more,” he said.
The President further expressed the government’s commitment to reduce the fiscal deficit from nine to six per cent this year, with a further reduction next year.
“We have decided that it is important to provide stimulus to the tune of US$100 million to local industries that are in distressed states and assist new companies to grow in the country,” he added.
The revival and modernisation of Ghana’s agriculture, he said, was also a major plank of his administration’s agenda of creating and providing jobs for the people.
With one per cent of the country’s revenue dedicated to agriculture in the erstwhile Mahama administration, President Akufo-Addo said, the commitment of the current government was at least to match the four per cent of revenue allocated to the sector by the Kufuor-led NPP government.
On the private sector, Nana Akufo-Addo said his administration was going to turn a new leaf in the way in which the government and the private sector worked, reiterating: “The private sector is not going to bring projects only for members of the government and their cronies to take over them.”
According to the President, the role of his government was “facilitating the business that you are going to do — setting good ground rules and holding you to account to them — and, by that, provide a good framework and environment for you to do your business”.
On the issue of contracts, he indicated that a number of contracts, especially in the energy sector, which were entered into by the previous administration were being reviewed, as most of them involved large sums of money.
He indicated that due process was being followed in the review of those contracts and gave an assurance that “there is not going to be any witch-hunting. I don’t have any problem with legitimate arrangements that were made before I took over. I do, however, have a problem if they were corrupt and if the considerations for the contracts are ones that cannot be justified to the people of Ghana”.
The President added that if by the end of the review a contract was found to be dodgy, the government would act on it.
Dealing with corruption
To deal with corruption, he spoke about a new office of Special Prosecutor which would be a creature independent of the Executive, with a mandate to deal with issues of corruption and allegations of corruption against public office holders.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that the Office of the Special Prosecutor was found in many jurisdictions across the world and that in the next meeting of Parliament legislation on the office would be brought before it for its passage.