Alan K’s audacious ‘GTP’
Former Trade Minister, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, announced an audacious strategic plan that he hopes can transform the economy in eight years in an event that he scales his party’s nomination process and eventually gets elected as the 6th President in Ghana’s 4th Republic.
His strategy- Ghana Transformational Plan is anchored in seven main thematic areas.
The seven-point plan, among other things, seeks to provide a strong macroeconomic environment, a new agricultural revolution (NAR) for the country, industrial transformation, digital mainstreaming, energy security and diversification, decarbonisation and climate resilience.
Mr Kyerematen said the success of the GTP would depend primarily on strong macroeconomic fundamentals, which would include a stable currency, low inflation, sustainable debt levels, revenue optimisation and tight expenditure control to guarantee fiscal balance, low competitive interest rates, strong external reserves backed by high levels of liquidity to support the financial sector.
Although a great plan, considering the current fiscal hole the country finds itself in which has led it to open negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a possible bailout programme, one would have expected the former minister to comment on how he intends to mobilise the needed resources to execute such a plan.
The three-year IMF programme will end in 2025, the year after another round of elections in 2024. The year, he hopes to become President.
Over the years, successive governments have always come with lofty ideas and plans which look very good on paper but at the end, what has been lacking has been the implementation and getting the resources required to implement the plans.
The ideas may be transformational, what is lacking however are details of the financing of these lofty ideas.
It is also coming at a time when excessive borrowing has seen the economy reeling under intense pressure from its creditors. Noteworthy is the fact that, at the time of Alan’s Presidency between 2025 to 2032, (granted that Alan is elected for 8 years) this will mean the country’s restructured bonds will still be listed for payment. This poses the questions whether Ghana can be credit-worthy to be attractive to both domestic and foreign investors who have taken a haircut on their bonds.
Mr Kyerematen said the NAR would be based on five critical elements, including optimising value to farmers by the establishment of farmer-owned large-scale commercial farms and processing facilities to bring the full benefits of the agricultural value chain to farmers.
It would also introduce technology and innovation into agriculture through research and development in agronomy, mechanisation, irrigation and plantation management.
That, he said, would build on the foundation laid by the Planting for Food and Jobs and Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programmes, adding that farmers could not be competitive without technology and innovation.
The question, however, is how different this is from what the ruling government, which he was a part of, promised in its 2020 manifesto.
In the 2020 manifesto, the NPP government promised to accelerate its efforts in modernising agriculture along the entire value chain, including expanding the agricultural mechanisation centres; and support farmers through increased supply of inputs, enhanced involvement in farm extension officers to work with farmers and breeders, and increased disease control.
The government also promised to provide large-scale private sector investment in processing, packaging and export of agricultural produce; and provide access to finance through subscription to the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing Scheme for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) programme.
And in 2017, the government launched the Agriculture Marshall Plan which was expected to build on the successes of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.
Subsequently, GH¢700 million was allocated to this plan in the 2018 budget, however this plan failed to take off and a year later when asked on why the plan failed to take off, the then Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture said it was because the government failed to secure some funds it was expecting from donors for its execution.
It is, therefore, the hope of every Ghanaian that should he get the nod to lead the party and later the country, the NAR would not suffer the same fate as the Agric Marshall Plan.
On industrialisation, the man who was tasked with leading the industrialisation agenda of the country in the last six years, said he intended to build on the government’s 10-point Industrial Transformation Programme, including the One, district, One, factory (1D1F) initiative and the establishment of strategic anchor industries to diversify the economy beyond cocoa and gold.
He cited the automobile assembling, garment and textiles, pharmaceuticals and the petrochemical industry, enhancing the growth and development of small and medium enterprises, the establishment of industrial parks and special economic zones and supporting domestic retail trade and distribution to buttress that point.
During his tenure as Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Kyerematen supervised the establishment and operationalisation of over 100 companies under this initiative, 24 others in the pipeline, and 150 still under construction.
Under the automobile assembling initiative, his tenure saw automobile giants such as VW, Nissan, Toyota, all opening assembly plants here in Ghana.
His decision to therefore build on these initiatives is a step in the right direction. However, the question has always been these industries have not generated the large employment that is desired for an economy like Ghana. There is also the skills gap. These are the challenges confronting Ghana and Alan Presidency.
Under accelerated infrastructure development, the outgoing minister said there would be the promotion of private sector financing for public infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports and harbours, water supply systems, public housing and so on, which would reduce the government’s exposure to the financing of such infrastructure projects.
Over the last few years, the government has tried using this same approach to help deliver some critical infrastructure in the country but this has not been that successful.
A typical example is the railway sector which the country has since 2017 been trying to get private sector participation to develop the railway lines in the country.
Although there have been some progress in that regard, it has not been that successful as the government would have wished and anticipated due to the huge scale financing for such a project. It is estimated that the economy will require $3 billion in the rail sector alone.
The question, therefore, is what an Alan K government would do differently to unlock the full private sector potential in supporting the government to develop some of these critical infrastructure.
On digitisation, his plan would be mainstreamed in all government and public sector activities, building on the current work led by the Ministry of Communication and Digitalisation.
If there is one thing this government has done creditably well, it is the attempt to digitise the economy, with the Vice President spearheading this agenda.
It will, therefore, be great to know what differently a government under Alan K would do with regards to his digitisation agenda.
In conclusion, whoever gets the nod to lead the country in 2024 will be facing a huge task as the country will possibly be under an IMF programme by then and to a large extent, an IMF support programme when fully executed, will create the appropriate conditions that will underpin whatever programmes and policies the next government would like to implement.
It remains to be seen whether our economy in 2025 will attract the domestic and foreign investors and at what premium.
With his plan, certainly Alan will need all the “cash” to execute his agenda, what he does need in abundance though will be the patience of Ghanaians.
Surely, Ghanaians may be forgetful people, they sure are not patient for basic needs and huge transformational lift in their lives.