There are exciting times ahead of the nation because the economy is on the cusp of substantial growth, the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has said.
He said in spite of all the challenges Ghana encountered this year, the prudent management of resources by the government had ensured that it stayed afloat and was taking giant steps to take its rightful place in the global economy.
Delivering a lecture on the Future of Ghana’s Economy at the Cedi Conference Centre at the Department of Economics of the University of Ghana in Accra last night, Dr Bawumia said the transformation that had taken place over the last four years was because “we were clear in our minds what must be done and we had a plan to do it, starting first with the restoration of the economy”.
The lecture, dubbed: “The case for four more years to do more for you”, saw the Vice-President systematically taking his audience through the economy the Akufo-Addo administration had inherited and how it had worked assiduously to position the country strongly in all facets.
Impact of policies
Painting a broad picture of what the Nana Akufo-Addo-led government had tried to do over the last four years and how each of them connected to a central theme, Dr Bawumia said everything that had been done was designed to make an impact on the lives and livelihoods of every Ghanaian.
“Our stewardship over the last four years means nothing if we have not impacted the lives and livelihoods of the broad mass of Ghanaians,” he added.
“The leadership we elect on December 7 is not just about what they can guide us to achieve over the next four years but one which will take advantage of opportunities born out of the challenges posed this year to forge new alliances, access new markets and grow domestic markets,” he said.
Delving into the economy, Vice-President Bawumia said before the NPP came to power, the economy was bleeding profusely through bad governance by the Mahama-led NDC government and the hardships on Ghanaians were enormous.
The strategy adopted by the new government when it assumed office on January 7, 2017, therefore, was to come up with a master plan, which included rolling back the human cost of the economic mismanagement and creating the foundations for an inclusive, prosperous Ghana Beyond Aid.
Based on the plan, he said, seven objectives, including stabilising and growing the economy, transforming the economy, creating jobs, especially for the youth, as well as modernising, digitising and formalising the country’s economy, were executed.
Dr Bawumia said in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic which had impacted all economies in the world, the government was able to stabilise the economy, reduce inflation and record double-digit economic growth in its first three years.
“We reduced the rate of exchange rate depreciation, stabilised exchange rate depreciation, with the country recording the lowest rate of depreciation in the last 28 years, and reduced the rate of accumulation of debt,” he said.
He said the relatively strong performance of the economy, among other things, had led to Ghana becoming the destination of choice for foreign direct investments (FDI) in West Africa.
He said 15 taxes had been abolished or reduced in the first term of the government, which was unprecedented in the history of the country.
While pointing out that the financial services sector the Akufo-Addo administration met was in dire straits, the Vice-President indicated that measures had been taken to rescue the situation.
“We have cleaned up the mess in the financial sector that we inherited. We took decisive decisions to avoid the collapse of the financial sector, save the deposits of 4.6 million depositors and save jobs,” he said.
So far, he said, the government had spent GH¢21 billion to clean up the sector and gave an assurance that all depositors would get their money.
While Dr Bawumia said President Akufo-Addo had largely fulfilled this promises over the last four years, he added that the President had also demonstrated that he cared about each and every one of us, especially the poor, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.
That had been demonstrated in how the President had worked, in four years, to significantly reduce the human cost of the economic mismanagement that was inherited, he said.
He said the government had stabilised the economy, created over two million jobs in the formal sector alone, kept the power on to power homes, businesses and industries, invested in massive infrastructural
development at both the local and the national levels and implemented far-reaching social protection programmes.
For that reason, Ghanaians could look forward to accelerated industrialisation, jobs and infrastructural development over the next four years, he said to applause from the gathering.
Vice-President Bawumia said the government’s digitisation agenda was to eliminate the chronic problems of the highly informal economy, along with the manual, bureaucratic and cumbersome processes involved in the delivery of government services.
“Today, the outcomes from our digitisation drive are paying off and Ghana is clearly on its way to becoming one of the most digitised economies in Africa in the next two years.
“We have registered and issued biometric national ID cards, which the NDC government could not do in eight years, and so far, 15.5 million people have been enrolled and the process will be completed in the first half of 2021,” he said.
He said the government had identified and provided unique addresses for all properties in Ghana, while the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA) had also provided street names and house numbers for every unnamed street in Ghana.
The Vice-President further said discussions had been held with Google and he expected all 7.5 million addresses to be uploaded onto Google maps early in 2021.
He said the country was currently the fastest growing mobile money market in Africa, with 36.9 million registered mobile money accounts.
He said the government intended to integrate the National ID card with passports, the SSNIT card, tax identification numbers (TINs), DVLA, bank accounts and SIM cards/mobile money accounts to make Ghana a functional digital economy.
Power and education
Tracing the difficulties Ghanaians faced prior to the coming into office of the NPP administration, Dr Bawumia said: “You are living witnesses to the several thousand fellow citizens who lost their jobs under the unrelenting burden of four years of ‘dumsor’, compounded by high electricity tariffs and burdensome taxes, as businesses collapsed.”
All those were things of the past because of the good policies of the government, led by Nana Akufo-Addo.
On education, the Vice-President said so far GH¢3.2 billion had been spent on Free Senior High School.
“This is the money we have put in the pockets of the people,” he added.
Agriculture & health
Dr Bawumia also delved into health, agriculture and related areas and said in all that, the government had performed very well.
In agriculture, for instance, he mentioned how the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative had revived the ailing agricultural sector and today farmers were enjoying the fruits of their labour, while the nation also reaped the benefits.
In the health sector, he said the NHIS had been rescued from its cash-and-carry situation with the payment of the arrears owed to service providers by the government, while the National Ambulance Service had been rescued with 307 ambulances and additional personnel.
“Over 92,000 health personnel have been recruited for our hospitals and we have introduced drones in the delivery of critical medicine and blood to people in remote parts of the country. Ghana now has the largest medical drone delivery service in the world,” he said.
He said 107 factories were under construction under the One-district, One-factory initiative and added that all districts would be covered in due course.