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President’s address empty — Minority

Author: Musah Yahya Jafaru

The Minority in Parliament has described the President's State of the Nation Address as empty, hopeless and lacking any concrete policies to grow the economy, develop infrastructure and create jobs.

They said the nation was in dire economic straits, with ballooning debts and increased suffering and hardships for Ghanaians.

They said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo failed to address the suffering of Ghanaians but only recounted the 2017 promises he had made to Ghanaians.

The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and other Minority members made the claims in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic moments after the President had delivered his second State of the Nation Address to Parliament since assuming the reins of office on January 7, 2017.

Unfulfilled promises

Mr Iddrisu said the President only recounted the 2017 unfulfilled promises in the address and failed to offer any concrete things for this year.

He said the President promised to set up 51 factories under the one-district, one-factory initiative last year but he could not deliver on that.

Besides, he said, the President did not give account of the GH¢89 million that Parliament approved for the one-village, one-dam programme last year.

Mr Iddrisu, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale South, said although the free senior high school (SHS) policy was laudable, its implementation was fraught with financial and infrastructural challenges.

He faulted President Akufo-Addo for running away from giving the current debt stock of the country and indicated that the President only used September 2017 figures, instead of using current ones.

On the growth of the economy, Mr Iddrisu said it was largely influenced by growth in the oil and gas sector, which was engineered under the Mahama administration.

He said the power outages, otherwise called dumsor, ended before President Nana Akufo-Addo assumed office on January, 7, 2017.

Therefore, he said, the current government could not claim that it had ended dumsor.

On job creation, the Minority Leader said the 100,000 jobs that the President promised to create under the Nation Builders Corps were not sustainable.

He said per the allocation to the programme, each beneficiary would take only GH¢500 a month, which was below the allowances of national service personnel.

Mr Iddrisu, however, lauded the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor because of its relevance to the fight against corruption.

No hope for Ghanaians

The Deputy Minority Leader, Mr James Avedzi, said he did not see any hope for Ghanaians in the address.

He said the President kept on giving promises to Ghanaians, instead of outlining measures to address the economic challenges facing the people.

Mr Avedzi said another area that the President did not mention in his address was the issue of the security of Ghanaians, with vigilante groups such as the Invincible Forces visiting mayhem on people.

He said the Minority members were in black to protest against the incessant insults rained on them by the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

The Ranking Member on the Finance Committee and Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, said "hardship is getting to an alarming rate in the country".

He said the President "failed to apologise to the nation, since the state of the nation is bad".

He said although the government had reduced some taxes, the impact of the reduction was not being felt by Ghanaians.

Mr Forson said the President only gave numbers which did not reflect in the pockets of Ghanaians.

The MP for Bolgatanga Central, Mr Isaac Adongo, said the President only gave a press conference but not an address on the state of the nation, since he did not capture the true state of the nation in his address.

He said the nation’s debt was ballooning, while businesses were suffering and living conditions worsening.

Planting for Food and Jobs

Mr Adongo said the President claimed that the Planting for Food and Jobs programme was a success, but he did not talk about the output nor the number of jobs created.

He said the previous government gave fertiliser to farmers, including his father, for free, but the current government took part payment and also went ahead to take their names.

He said if the President said the economy grew by 7.9 per cent, it was not influenced by the one-district, one-factory, one- village, one-dam or any government policy.

"Clearly, that growth was necessitated by the oil and gas sector,” he declared.

The MP for Sagnarigu, Alhaji A. B. A. Fuseini, said the President's address could only be described as hopeless and full of more promises which would not inure to the benefit of Ghanaians.