President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said majority of Ghanaians are conscious of the strides the government has made, in spite of the difficult conditions it inherited from the previous administration.
“I am aware that the naysayers are trumpeting, in as loud voices as they can muster, their denial of what is happening in front of their very eyes, but I know the Ghanaian people, in their majority, are conscious of the steady progress that is being made, despite the difficult circumstances which attended our assumption of office, and next year they will have the opportunity so to pronounce,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said this at an event in Toronto, Canada last Saturday to mark the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Canada branch of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
“All of us in government, by dint of hard work and prudent management of our resources, have been able to steer our country out of the stormy waters and economic mess that had characterised the years before 2017,” the President said.
With Ghana projected by the IMF to become the fastest-growing economy in the world this year, with an estimated GDP growth rate of eight per cent, he said all the macroeconomic indices were pointing in the right direction.
He said it was, therefore, not surprising that Ghana was now the leading recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in West Africa.
“Inflation for August 2019 stands at 7.8 per cent. Our trade balance account, for the first time in more than a decade, recorded a surplus in 2017, which we maintained in 2018, and we expect to maintain the surplus for this year as well. We have brought the fiscal deficit down from 9.3 per cent in 2016 to 4.5 per cent currently,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo also said the government had cleared the GH¢1.2 billion arrears it inherited from the previous government, bringing the operations of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) back to life.
Additionally, he said, bold measures had been taken to sanitise the banking system to strengthen the sector, thereby safeguarding the deposits of 4.6 million Ghanaians.
“We are also sanitising the energy sector by ridding it of billions of recklessly incurred debts from the Mahama government that threatened to strangle our public finances. The results of our programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, which is providing incentives and boosting incomes of one million farmers, have been spectacular. We have had two bumper years of produce and, last year, we did not import a single grain of maize, unlike previous years,” President Akufo-Addo added.
On unemployment, the President said the government had, through the Nation Builders Corps initiative, put 100,000 graduates to work and obtained financial clearance for the employment of 54,892 health workers, with some 59,000 teachers given jobs since he came into office in 2017.
He also said initiatives such as One-district, One-factory (1D1F), One-village, One-dam (1V1D), the Zongo Development Fund and the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) were being pursued to stimulate job creation opportunities across the country.
He said allowances of nursing and teacher trainees, which were scrapped by the Mahama government, had been restored, while 300 ambulances for the One Constituency, One Ambulance programme was on course, with some of the vehicles having already arrived in the country, adding that the last batch of the ambulances would arrive by December this year.
“Free SHS, which was described as an impossibility and a misplaced priority by our opponents, has been successfully implemented. 1.2 million children, the highest enrolment of pupils in senior high school in our history, are benefitting from the policy. Since April this year, we have also reduced the benchmark values of import duties by as much as 50 per cent, and in the case of vehicles, by 30 per cent,” he said.
He said the government had also taken decisive and comprehensive steps to harness the benefits of the digital revolution in the administration of the country, in line with its commitment to have digital systems manage all government receipts and payments by 2020.
On corruption, President Akufo-Addo said “despite the crudely orchestrated effort to brand my government as corrupt”, the commitment by the government to fight corruption was not only in words but also in deeds.
He said corruption allegations levelled against his appointees were being investigated by authorised institutions of state.
According to him, 21 officials of the past administration were on trial for various allegations of corruption or wilfully causing financial loss to the state.
“I will not sacrifice due process in order to play to the gallery. It, therefore, does not come as a surprise that in the Global Corruption Barometer conducted by Transparency International and Afrobarometer, 60 per cent of Ghanaians, in 2019, believe the government is doing a good job at fighting corruption, as opposed to 25 per cent in 2015,” the President added.
He said only hard work, innovation, creativity and enterprise would produce accelerated development and wealth for the Ghanaian people.
“My government has a clear vision of where we want to take Ghana and we will, by the grace of God, realise that vision. It will not be easy, but with perseverance and steadfastness, we will get there. I need each and every one of you gathered here to join hands in delivering progress and prosperity to every part of our country. We have a bright, excellent future ahead,” the President added.