The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has said the Akufo-Addo administration has kept faith with Ghanaians, with all indications pointing to a country on the rise.
With about 10 months left for the government to end its four-year mandate, the Vice-President said the administration had delivered on 78 per cent of the 388 promises it made during the 2016 electioneering.
Dr Bawumia was speaking on the first day of a two-day Town Hall Meeting and Results Fair in Kumasi yesterday to account for the government’s stewardship to the people.
It is on the theme: "Demonstrating fulfilment of our promises".
From the economy through to education, agriculture, industry, foreign policy, job creation, health, water supply, among other sectors, Dr Bawumia said the government had posted incredible results against the backdrop of the “mess” it inherited from the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration on January 7, 2017.
The opening session of the meeting and results fair attracted massive attendance at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Appointees of the current administration, including ministers of state and metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs), other state officials, chiefs, academics, assembly members and members of the public sat through the nearly three-hour opening ceremony to listen to speeches by various speakers, which were capped with a presentation by the Vice-President.
The ministries of Monitoring and Evaluation and Information organised the meeting, in collaboration with the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council.
Best economic delivery
Beginning with what he described as the messy economy the government inherited from the NDC, Dr Bawumia said even before assuming office, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was aware of the task ahead and had worked hard to achieve a remarkable turnaround in the economy.
He listed some of the problems the government inherited as declining economic growth, high inflation rate, high-Interest rates, high exchange rate depreciation, high fiscal deficit, a weak and collapsing financial system, high unemployment levels, a collapsing National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and a collapsing emergency healthcare system.
Cedi depreciation arrested
Trumpeting the economic performance of the government, with specific reference to the cedi/dollar exchange rate, he said the government had "arrested the rapid depreciation of the cedi".
"The incontrovertible evidence shows that the cedi is the best performing currency against the major trading currencies in the first term of any government under the Fourth Republic," Dr Bawumia said, and supported his presentation with graphs, tables and diagrams.
He said data and the facts on the ground supported a more resilient and stronger cedi under President Akufo-Addo than it was in the previous government.
"The exchange rate under this government is twice as stable as that under the NDC. The cedi is now the best performing currency in the world.
"In fact, in the history of the Fourth Republic, President Akufo-Addo has the best performance for any first-term government since 1992. All the worst performances happened under the NDC, which holds the record for first, second and third-worst performances in the Fourth Republic, but they still want to challenge the best performer," the Vice-President said in reference to the cedi-dollar performance.
He said only last week Ghana successfully issued the longest-dated Eurobond by a sub-Saharan African country, with investors placing $15 billion of orders for Ghana’s Eurobond, which included a 41-year dated bond, the longest any African country had issued.
“The seven-year Eurobond issued has attracted the lowest coupon rate ever for Ghana at 6.375 per cent, compared with the 9.25 per cent Ghana had to pay for a similar Eurobond issue in 2016. This is a massive show of confidence in the Ghanaian economy by investors,” he told the audience.
He said inflation had dropped steadily from a high of 15.4 per cent at the end of 2016 to 7.9 per cent at the end of December 2019, which was about the lowest since 1992.
On the country’s debt stock, which has reached GH¢214.9 billion, Dr Bawumia said the percentage increase of 79 was better than the 247 per cent of the NDC government from 2012 to 2016.
He assured depositors of collapsed banks that no one would lose his or her investment and that each would be paid the full amount saved.
He said the government had asked the receiver of the collapsed banks to speed up the validation process, including those from DKM, for payment to be effected.
“Already, about one million of the four million-plus investors have been paid, while 700,000 jobs have been saved,” he said.
He added that the clean-up, on which the government had already spent GH¢13 billion, was not meant to frustrate or impoverish the owners of the banks but "protect the banking system".
Dr Bawumia said the bold decision taken by the BoG had helped to reverse the economic decline of the country and strengthened the "pillars" laid in the last three years.
The Vice-President disclosed that the government would later this month launch a nationwide mobile application, in line with its digitisation policy, to allow citizens to buy electricity credit via their mobile phones.
The move was part of the government's attempt at formalising the economy and dealing with corruption, he added.
As part of the digitisation, he said, he would also launch a universal quick response (QR) code for payments to be made and received via the mobile phone.
Again, to increase knowledge base and build the human capacity of students for the future, all senior high schools (SHSs), as well as tertiary institutions, would receive free WiFi (Wireless Fidelity), a local area wireless technology for Internet connectivity, to enhance academic work, he said.
Dr Bawumia said the free SHS policy, which is one of the major achievements of the government, had shaken the NDC.
He said former President John Dramani Mahama’s declaration that he would abolish the double-track system if voted into office was just a smokescreen, saying: "Cancelling double-track means cancelling free SHS.”
The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, called on Ghanaians to focus on the data presented by the Vice-President and encourage those with varied data to submit them for perusal.
The Bantamahene, Baffour Asare Owusu Amankwatia VI, who chaired the opening ceremony, expressed appreciation to the government for the free SHS policy, which he said had taken a huge burden off chiefs, who hitherto had to shoulder the burden of paying the school fees of many underprivileged children in their traditional areas.
He also thanked the government for other social intervention programmes and projects it had introduced.
While commending the government for the town hall meeting, which offered the citizenry the opportunity to interact with the leadership of the country, Baffour Amankwatia called for the fast-track completion of road projects in the Ashanti Region.
He also touched on a litany of challenges, including the recent killing of women in Kumasi, and called for efforts to address them.
The Bantamahene, who stood in for the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, appealed to the Vice-President to address the issue of sanitation.
He also called owners of houses which lacked septic tanks to order.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, said the government had made tremendous strides in the last three years.
He said the interventions made by the government placed Ghana among the top countries around the world.
The Dean of the Ashanti Parliamentary Caucus, Ms Patricia Appiagyei, solicited support for the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to help them implement and communicate government policies.
She accused the erstwhile NDC government of sidelining the region in its development agenda and commended the NPP for showing the way.