The Founder and Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Mr Kwasi Addai, has called on the government to take steps to address the economic plight of Ghanaians, saying even though the President and his government are trying their best, indications are that things are not going well for Ghanaians.
“The President is trying his best but his best is not enough now. He needs to do more, especially on the economic front, to address the immediate pressing needs of Ghanaians,” he said.
According to him, Ghanaians everywhere in the country were complaining that there was no money in the system and that they were facing hard times.
“The government must not sit down and be complacent and be making comparison with the previous administration. If the government want to make comparisons, we expect them to do so with countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea who are our independence compatriots,” he advised.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview on his assessment of the two years of the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government in power, Mr Addai, who is also known as ‘Odike’, said his overall assessment was that the government was trying its best to implement most of the initiatives they promised Ghanaians but that notwithstanding, a lot of people were complaining that there was no money in the system and that times were hard.
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“I believe the current situation calls for the government to prioritise its initiatives and segment them in order to deal with them from the immediate pressing needs of the people to the medium and then the long term,” he stressed.
The immediate expectation of Ghanaians, according to Mr Addai, was to have a good economic environment where businesses would thrive and where purchasing power was strong and where the economy would be free so that people would feel it within their pockets.
“But currently, from that perspective, things are not going well for Ghanaians,” he pointed out.
He added that one other immediate expectation of Ghanaians was job creation, saying it was the private sector that created jobs “and so if I were the president, I would concentrate on job creation through the private sector, where I would place immediate premium on the one district, one factory which I believe is a good initiative that requires the government to invest more into so that more jobs will be created.”
That way too, he added, salaries and related expenditure would not come from the Consolidated Fund and that, coupled with the government’s freeze on public employment, would provide enough buffer for the Consolidated Fund to be used to develop the infrastructural sector.
“Job creation is solely the job of the private sector so it is for the government to empower the private sector to deliver and employ more people but here, I see the government not responding to the demands of the private sector.”
Again, he said, the public sector was also not being responsive, positing that the age-old behaviour of the public sector had not changed even against the background of the government’s promise to undertake a public sector reform “but I see the sector even doing worse than before.”
Throwing a challenge, he said whoever was in charge of the public sector ought to come up with the needed strategies for the promised reforms of that sector.
He observed that some heads of departments, agencies and even some ministers were not up to the task and, therefore, constituted liabilities to the state.
“The government must put a mechanism in place that will ensure that there is proper performance appraisal where those who would fail to make the mark are shown the exit for more competent persons to take their place,” he urged.
Education and agriculture
On the educational front, he said he still stood by his view that for the free senior high school (FSHS), the government ought to allow those capable of paying to do so while those in genuine need could be given state support.
But even that, the state support should not be entirely free. “When such brilliant, needy students are supported, they have to pay back when they later graduate and start working so that the money would become a revolving fund for others also to access,” he said.
On agriculture, he observed that though the country currently had bumper harvest, “the farmers are suffering because most of them produce perishable goods and in the absence of value addition, they are compelled to sell them cheaper in the markets.”
“So, the consumers are benefitting but to the disadvantage and detriment of the farmers and if care is not taken, it will discourage them from expanding their businesses,” he warned.
Mr Addai was of the opinion that the all-inclusive administration that the President promised was yet to see the light of day because there were lots of talents still sitting on the sideline even within the New Patriotic Party (NPP) who had a lot to offer if they were brought on board.
On the banking sector, he said the decision to sanitise that sector was in order and that the recapitalisation would help the surviving banks to be more responsive to the needs of the general public.
Following the clean-up, he said, expectations were that lending rates would come down and that more loans, especially long-term facilities, would be given to businesses.
Also, he identified the backlog of unpaid arrears to contractors as being part of the problems that had led to inadequate circulation of money in the system, thereby creating a chain of suffering.
“The government must take immediate steps to pay these arrears to maintain its credibility otherwise the general performance of the economy will be affected because when contractors take contracts from the government to the banks, the banks will not be willing to provide funding because they do not see any credibility on the part of government,” he explained.
But all in all, “I think the government has done its part and should be commended for how far they have brought the country but we still have a long way to go.”