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Presidential Advisory Fiscal Council in the offing

BY: Kobby Asmah & Chris Nunoo
A section of media personnel at the event
A section of media personnel at the event

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has disclosed that he will establish a presidential advisory fiscal council composed of eminent Ghanaian economists who will provide independent advice for the President on how to comply with the fiscal rule.

“We have everything to gain from discipline. It is the foundation for the sustainable, rapid growth of the economy,” the President told the media during  an interaction at the Jubilee House in Accra on Wednesday.  
     
Painting a picture of his stewardship two years into his administration, he declared: “It is my intention to anchor the implementation of this fiscal rule that will provide stability for our economy.”

IMF exit

This year, the President noted, was an important one in the economic history of Ghana.

“We are about to exit, at the end of the year, from our 17th International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme since we joined the institution. We are doing so on a good note and expect that the two remaining reviews in January and April next year will be completed successfully,” he indicated.

He said the most important lesson that we must derive from our IMF experience was that we could not afford, any longer, any disarray in our public finances, the reason for our demand for IMF assistance.

According to the President, the presence here, earlier this week, of the Managing Director of the IMF, Madam Christine Lagarde, who expressed clearly her support for the current management of the economy, was, in that regard, a good omen.

Era of failure

He said a great deal of work was being done in so many areas, so that we could turn our back on our recent era of failure and set our country on the path of sustainable, rapid development and growth.

“I am excited about the prospects for Ghana and I invite you to share in this excitement, which will see the Black Star shining brightly again,” he declared.
      
 Banking reforms    

Throwing more light on the banking reforms, President Akufo-Addo said they were all aimed at protecting depositors’ funds, as well as to prevent those failed banks from creating problems for the rest of the financial system.

 He said the new administration of the Bank of Ghana (BOG) took some courageous measures in the public interest to clean up the banking system and put it on a stronger and more resilient path.

“There is no doubt that the failure of the seven banks came at a cost to the Ghanaian taxpayer and staff of the affected banks. However, the decisions taken by the BoG and the financial support the government provided through the establishment and funding of the Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited ensured that deposits of more than 1.5 million customers, with deposit value of over GH¢10 billion, and about 70 per cent of the 5,000 jobs in the affected banks were saved,” he said.

He said it was important that the costs of those interventions, which were borne by taxpayers, were recovered to the extent possible through recoveries from debtors, shareholders and related and connected parties who took money from the defunct banks.

 “The receivership processes are ongoing and the receivers are making great strides in their recovery efforts. Amounts in excess of GH¢400 million have so far been recovered by the receivers of the two banks closed last year. The government has set up a special investigations team to undertake criminal investigations into the failure of all seven banks for possible prosecution by the relevant state agencies,” he said.

“No one found complicit will be spared,” the President assured Ghanaians.

At the same time, he said the recapitalisation efforts by banks had been very successful so far, with about 22 banks already meeting the new minimum capital of GH¢400 million, well in advance of the December 31, 2018 deadline.

He said the 22 banks that had met the new requirement included a good number of indigenous banks, saying that “a few others are in the final stages of meeting this requirement”.

 “I am confident that at the end of the exercise we will have a stronger, more resilient banking sector with a strong indigenous presence, well-positioned to finance the next phase of our agenda of economic growth,” the President said.

 Creation of regions

Touching on the creation of new regions, President Akufo-Addo said he expected that the voting would come off peacefully.

 “There can be no excuse for any disturbance or violence. The people who seek new regions are not seeking to secede from Ghana – they are Ghanaian citizens who are seeking new administrative structures to guide their lives by a constitutionally sanctioned process within the Ghanaian space,” the President stated.

He said the Supreme Court had unanimously confirmed and validated the propriety of the process and asked that we leave those who seek new regions in peace to have their day and see whether they could satisfy the high constitutional threshold for the creation of new regions.       

In so doing, he said, he trusted that the new leadership of the Electoral Commission (EC) would pass well their first test of organising a free, fair and transparent poll.
 
Galamsey menace

On the galamsey menace, the President reiterated that the ban on galamsey — illegal mining — had not been lifted and would not be lifted.

 He said some of the media collaborators in the fight against galamsey had, in response to this announcement, expressed their dismay at what they saw as the government having lost the will to fight galamsey.

“The ban on small-scale mining was never intended to be permanent. It was to enable the government to fashion a policy that would sanitise the sector and ensure that, in future, small-scale mining, which has been with us for centuries, would not damage our environment,” he stated.

The President explained that the measures announced by the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Small-Scale Mining, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, could not, and would not, give up on the fight to protect our environment.

 “I entreat the media and all well-intentioned Ghanaians to continue to join the fight to protect our lands and water bodies,” the President added.