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State of the Nation: What President Akufo-Addo said in 2017

BY: Isaac Yeboah

The following highlights represent what President Akufo-Addo said in his first State of the Nation address to Parliament on Tuesday, February 21, 2017.

  • I used to be here as MP, now I’m President
  • Thank God for peaceful and smooth transfer of power
  • Sincere appreciation to President John Mahama for his leadership and role in the transition.
  • Happy for presence of two ex-presidents Jerry Rawlings and John Kufuor.
  • Congratulates Mr Speaker on his election to preside over parliament.
  • Commends EC and its Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, for the conduct of 2016 elections.
  • Condemns political vigilantism and asks NPP/NDC to ensure it does not happen again.
  • I am here in fulfillment of Constitution demand to account on state of the nation.
  • I was inaugurated six weeks ago and have been building my team.
  • I am, indeed, in a hurry, I am in a great hurry.
  • Thank you Parliament, for expeditious vetting and approval of ministerial nominees.
  • Council of State composed and ready for inauguration this week.
  • Conditions demand that government machinery functions efficiently and at full force, nothing should be left on autopilot.
  • SONA will highlight state of economy, governance and national culture and attitudes.
  • Economy is in a bad way, our worst fears confirmed, plus a few additional, unpleasant surprises.
  • Previous government had more than ten times financial resources than any other since independence but its management of economy in the run up to the 2012 elections resulted in a quagmire. IMF had to come in ostensibly to restore fiscal discipline, debt sustainability and increase economic growth.

  • Government failed promise not to repeat in 2016, the reckless public expenditure that characterized the 2012 election. Missed virtually all the targets under the IMF programme, as at December 2016.
  • Total projected expenditure for 2016 was GH¢43.9 billion (26% of GDP), but actual expenditure amounted to GH¢50.3 billion (30.2% of GDP). It appears that some GH¢7 billion of arrears and outstanding payments circumvented public financial management system.
  • Revenue performance for the year was poor. Total revenue target was GH¢37.9 billion (22.7% of GDP), but actual revenue came in at GH¢33.2 billion (19.9% of GDP).
  • Increasing fiscal deficits financed by increased borrowing. At the beginning of 2009, Ghana’s total debt stock was GH¢9.5 billion but by the end of 2016, the debt stock had ballooned to GH¢122 billion. Ghana’s debt stock now stands at 74% of GDP.
  • More debt was accumulated by the previous government in the last eight years than all other governments put together since independence!
  • Wages and salaries, interest payments and amortization and statutory payments consume Ghana’s total revenue as a result of policy choices.
  • Economic growth declined dramatically notwithstanding the record amount of financial resources at the disposal of the previous government, Ghana’s GDP growth in 2016 is estimated at 3.6%. This is the lowest GDP growth in about 23 years.
  • Banking sector not escaped economic decline and become increasingly fragile. Significant vulnerability of banks to current economic conditions, with many exhibiting significant weaknesses.

  • Low growth, rising rate of unemployment, high fiscal deficits, high and rising debt, and increased depreciation of the cedi, high cost of food, housing and utilities and high non-performing loans are symptoms of deeper structural problems. We are going to have to implement some tough, prudent and innovative policies to get out of this financial cul-de sac and rescue this economy, restore fiscal discipline and debt sustainability as well as increase economic growth.

  • It gives me no joy to tell the story of the economy as as we inherited it. I was not elected by the overwhelming majority of the Ghanaian people to complain. I was elected to get things done. I was elected to fix what is broken and my government and I are determined to do just that.
  • I am absolute in my confidence that we have the programme, the competence, the commitment, and the goodwill of the people to turn things around. By the Grace of God, we will succeed and I believe this House knows it too.
  • Targeted legislative policy and institutional reforms to be undertaken to unleash the suppressed potential of the economy and allow Ghanaian entrepreneurship to rise and thrive.
  • We must create the atmosphere that generates jobs. We must boost the confidence of the private sector to invest in the economy.
  • “PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS”, to be launched to transform agriculture and to be anchored on the provision of improved seeds, supply of fertilizers, provision of dedicated extension services, marketing strategy and use of eAgriculture.
  • One-village, one-dam policy to provide water to enable all-year farming.
  • Expects an increase in public investment in agriculture.
  • JOBS. The most critical challenge, inherited by this NPP government, is the very high, unprecedented level of unemployment, particularly among the youth. To address this challenge, the government is embarking on one of the most comprehensive programmes for industrial transformation ever to be introduced in our country.
  • ENERGY. Probably the most difficult problem, that has dogged this nation in the past five years, has been in the energy sector. DUMSOR in Wikipedia.

  • We will improve on transparency in tariff setting, and introduce a new tariff policy that will reclassify consumer categories in order to protect lifeline and strategic industrial consumers. We will also reduce significantly some of the levies and taxes on the tariffs.

  • Government will enforce the procurement law.
  • Free SHS starts with the 2017/2018 entrants into the public SHS.
  • Teacher trainee allowances will be restored when the Minister of Finance comes to read the budget.
  • Too many NHIS service providers are owed.
  • Government will work with Parliament to pass Affirmative Action Bill.
  • The time has come to enforce the Disability Act and ensure its compliance.
  • We will improve the state of combat readiness of our armed forces by improving the logistical infrastructure, and improve the welfare of service men and women and also of veterans.
  • We must have an efficient police service
  • The office of the Special Prosecutor has been shown to work in other places, and I shall be bringing legislation before the House for its rapid establishment.
  • There are some areas of our lives in which we can all demonstrate the change for which the people of Ghana have voted: punctuality, sanitation and the care of the environment.
  • We will put in place policies that will deliver sustainable growth and cut out corruption.
  • We must build a Ghana beyond aid.

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