New Year: Challenges are surmountable
So soon, another year is with us and many of us are hoping for good outcomes.
In Ghana and as is the case in many other countries around the globe, the New Year, which began last Sunday, was marked with various activities including fireworks, church services and family get-togethers.
For us at the Daily Graphic, we are pleased that we went through the holidays quite smoothly without reported cases of fatalities.
Although there were a lot of social activities including musical concerts and family retreats, we are satisfied that all went well and smooth.
Nonetheless, we do know with certainty that many people will also take the opportunity to reflect on the previous 365 days while also looking forward to a brighter future.
Indeed, the last Christmas was the first for many people around the world after two years of COVID-19 related restrictions and it was justifiable that people were hoping to have a joyous occasion.
As we reflect on the past year and resolve to do better for ourselves as individuals, the Daily Graphic urges the citizenry to put Ghana first in everything that they do. We must always be guided by what we can do for the country to become greater and stronger.
The people of Ghana have on numerous occasions risen to bring our country to its current level. We didn’t just get here. We got here by determination, hard work and good leadership.
In 2000, Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was $258, and this has increased to $2,400 today. During this same period extreme poverty has fallen tremendously and it is projected to be on track to decline to 4.5 per cent by 2030, from roughly 12.5 per cent at present. We are ranked highly in freedom of speech and press, among many achievements.
We must be proud and celebrate our successes as a people as the New Year unfolds.
But there is good reason also to worry. Our country faces rising debts as it has been thrust into debt distress.
Ghana’s rapid growth of seven per cent per year in 2017 to 2019 was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in March 2020, and a sharp decline in commodity exports. In the first quarter of 2022, the overall GDP grew by 3.3 per cent, year-on-year, which was down from 3.6 per cent over the same period in 2021.
Fiscal pressures therefore remained high. Over the first half of 2022, the fiscal deficit reached 5.6 per cent of GDP, well above the 3.9 per cent target for the same period. Revenues also underperformed.
Interest payments reached 54.4 per cent of revenues over the first half of the year. Inflation also inched to over 40 per cent and the World Bank projects that GDP growth will slow to 3.3 per cent over 2022-2024.
Amid all these, indications from China (a major trading partner) are that the COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to be ending, which will adversely affect trade. The head of the IMF has also warned that the global economy is expected to be in recession in 2023, arising out of the war in Ukraine, energy costs and interest rate increases to strain the global economy.
The economic outlook for 2023 is therefore worrying and could be worse than the previous year of 2022, with major world economies of Europe, the US and China simultaneously slowing down this year.
It is within these challenges that Ghana must work to improve its conditions. Indeed, it looks herculean but not impossible. These indications, thus demand selfless, honest and hardworking citizenry and a leadership with very bold, decisive and well-thought-out policies to steer the economy rightly this year.
Duty bearers, in particular, have the onerous responsibility to adopt the right approaches for the citizenry to sail through these challenging times. Already we note the improvement in the exchange rate volatilities that the country experienced in the middle to latter parts of 2022.
We know that the Ghanaian can rise to the occasion when necessary. This is the time therefore for all of us as citizens to gird our loins and play any role we can to put our country back on the path of sustainable growth and development.
It is not beyond us. Yes, we can do it.
We wish our esteemed readers a HAPPY and PROSPEROUS New Year.