Parliament Thursday morning hosted the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who was in the Chamber to discharge an important constitutional assignment to update Ghanaians on the state of affairs in the country
The SONA is a constitutional obligation that provides a platform for the President to appear before Parliament to state the condition in the country, indicating the progress made and the challenges over the past year, and indicate succinctly what it is that the government intends to do to better
Attached below is a full copy of the full address
MESSAGE ON THE STATE OF THE NATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, ON THE OCCASION OF THE STATE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT, ON THURSDAY, 21ST FEBRUARY, 2019, ACCRA.
In accordance with protocol and convention, it is good to see that First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, Second Lady Samira Bawumia, Spouse of Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Alberta Ocquaye, Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, and Justices of the Supreme Court, Chairperson Nana Otuo Siriboe II, and Members of the Council of State, Chief of Defence Staff Lt. Gen O.B. Akwa, Inspector General of Police David Asante Apeatu, and Service Chiefs, are all present. Mr. Speaker, the House is duly
The House should also take note of the passing last year of some distinguished citizens of our country – Vice President, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur; UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan; Senior Minister, J.H Mensah; Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe; PNDC Secretary, K.B Asante, and the Poet Laureate, Prof. Atukwei Okai. May their souls rest and abide in the bosom of the Almighty until the last day of the Resurrection when we shall all meet again. Amen!
Mr. Speaker, I hope the House will bear with me, as I have a lot to say, and I may take quite some time.
A month ago, almost to the day, I was in Yendi, fittingly attired as a self-proclaimed Prince of Dagbon, Prince Abudani, the first of that lineage, to witness the installation of Yaa-Na Mahama Abukari II as the overlord of Dagbon.
Thousands of our compatriots were there to share in the joy of the occasion. It was a ceremony that many had despaired we would ever see, but a new Yaa-Na, accepted by the two gates of Abudu and Andani, was installed on that day.
It brought to an end decades of feuding that laid low the proud and ancient kingdom of Dagbon. It was a happy day, and it marked the climax of a long, tortuous journey, and a hard grind on the part of many people through the years.
Two years ago, when I had the
We had spent enough emotional stress, enough time, enough energy and enough money on the Dagbon dispute; I wanted that amount of emotion, that time, that energy and that money to be spent on making Dagbon and Ghana prosperous.
I am grateful for the hard work and wisdom of the eminent chiefs, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, the Nayiri, Naa Bohugu Abdulai
The Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs intends to use the momentum of the Dagbon settlement to tackle the other protracted chieftaincy disputes in the country, hopefully, for resolution.
Mr. Speaker, in order to reinforce and support the process of reconciliation and the restoration of peace in Dagbon, I have decided
Again, the requests and agitations for
I am able to state, and every member of this House should be able to testify, that work is going on in each of the 275 constituencies around the country. The water and toilet provision segment of the Special Development Initiatives is taking place in every constituency. We came into office with a plan,
Mr. Speaker, we have also embarked on another aspect of our ambitious
Mr. Speaker, production in the economy, as measured by real GDP growth, has picked up very strongly in the last two years. From 3.4% in 2016, real GDP growth increased to 8.1% in 2017. In 2018, provisional data for the first three quarters indicate a strong real GDP growth of 6.0%, higher than the annual target of 5.6%.
Inflation has dropped from 15.4%, at the end of 2016, to 9% in January this year, the lowest in six years, as announced by the Ghana Statistical Service last week. Interest rates are declining, and so is the Bank of Ghana Monetary Policy Rate. Our trade balance account, for the first time in more than a decade, recorded a surplus in
We have decided to institute a legal framework to help with the discipline. We have passed the Fiscal Responsibility Law, Act 982, capping the deficit at 5% by law, and some two weeks ago, I inaugurated the Presidential Fiscal Responsibility Advisory Council, chaired by the eminent, respected economist, Dr. Paul Acquah, former Governor of the Bank of Ghana and former Deputy Director of the Africa Department of the IMF, with some of the finest and most reputable economists of our country as members. Its purpose is to advise the President on relevant, additional measures needed to maintain fiscal discipline.
We have done this because we know the temptation to go on a spending binge will always be there, we know election years will come around and there will be pressure on
In the meantime, our efforts are bearing some fruits, and the world has taken notice of the improvement in our economic fundamentals. In September last year, after almost a decade, we received our first Sovereign Credit rating upgrade from Standard and Poor’s (S&P). This upgrade saw us move from B minus to B with a stable outlook. In December 2018, we also hosted the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, a visit that was historical in every sense, as this was the first time that an IMF Managing Director had ever stepped foot on Ghanaian soil.
These figures do not include exemptions from the payment of corporate and individual income taxes, concessions on tax rates, petroleum tax reliefs, customs tax exemptions enjoyed by diplomatic missions, and waiver of processing charges at the ports.
If we continue at this rate, in less than sixteen years, half of Ghana’s revenue base will be given away as tax exemptions.
Mr. Speaker, this is not sustainable, and we intend to do something about it to reverse the trend, by introducing suitable measures that may disrupt the easy and comfortable arrangements that many have become accustomed to, but which we have to take to ensure that we have the firmest of foundations for the economic take-off that has escaped us for so long.
Mr. Speaker, workers in the public sector begun the year on a good note, after receiving a 10% increase in their salaries, on top of the 11% increment of 2018. Forty-one thousand (41,000) workers in the informal sector were also enrolled onto Tier-3 pensions schemes, with pensioners seeing an average increment of 11% in their monthly pension incomes, with the lowest income bracket receiving a 14.7% increment. Last year, the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) engaged some one hundred and seven thousand (107,000) youth in various employment modules, with an additional one hundred and twenty-five thousand (125,000) set to be engaged this year.
Mr. Speaker, to consolidate further the relations between the social partners, in the post IMF era, Government will shortly sign a landmark social partnership agreement with Organised Labour/the Trades Union Congress, the Ghana Employers’ Association and Government, represented by the Ministries of Finance and Employment and Labour Relations, to provide a medium for building a sense of cohesion, trust, self-management, frank and open discussions to champion the course of development.
Mr. Speaker, the fight against child
Mr. Speaker, our ports remain important national assets. And we must manage them to improve trade and to the benefit of all Ghanaians.
Ghana may be the toast of the world because of its economy. We have all accepted that these economic fundamentals are the foundation upon which our people will become prosperous, but if they are uneducated or poorly educated, then prosperity will continue to elude them.
In September 2019, a new standards-based curriculum will be rolled out from kindergarten to Class 6 in primary schools. This curriculum has drawn upon the best practices from all over the
Young people have to have options on which career path they choose, and I am glad to announce that all is set for the construction of 10 state-of-the-art Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Centres this year. For far too long, we have preached about the importance of TVET without doing very much to demonstrate this importance. We send or urge young people to go to poorly equipped TVET
We are also bent on demystifying science, mathematics and technology. Ten Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Mr. Speaker, a well-motivated and remunerated teacher is at the
Mr. Speaker, when our children master the connection between science and their everyday lives, we would reach the stage in Ghana where we would be rid of the many diseases, borne of filth and poor hygiene, that are still part of our lives. In pursuing these goals, we need to remind ourselves repeatedly that health is wealth, and it is only a healthy population that can make Ghana prosperous.
In May 2018, Ghana won accolades at the World Health Assembly for having eradicated Trachoma, an eye disease that has plagued us for a long time. Today, our NHIS is buoyant.
To deliver healthcare to Ghanaians more efficiently, in 2018,
The health delivery system will be significantly strengthened by the expected arrival in June of 275 ambulances, i.e. one per constituency, to make treatment of emergency cases more effective. Drone technology has also been introduced into that system to help deliver essential medicine, blood
We still face problems of inadequate infrastructure in our health establishments. We have problems of numerous structures at various stages of completion that cannot be finished and brought into
Ghana’s hardworking nurses and doctors would do their best, as they have always done, to make sure we get the best health care, but it
The 2019 budget made provision for the construction of two hundred thousand (200,000) housing
The most exciting news on the housing landscape, though, is the drafting of plans to regenerate Nima, which holds the dubious title of