PRESIDENT John Mahama has said government will take the necessary measures to put the economy on an even keel, however unpopular those decisions may be, adding that he is prepared to suffer the political cost.
“…I have the political will to see this (economic adjustment) programme through. Despite the fact that next year is an election year and thereby, the political season, I am determined to end what the economic boom and bust which come with every election cycle, no matter the political cost,” he stated.
Addressing the nation’s Senior Citizens at a luncheon at the State Banquet Hall, to mark the 55th Republic Day anniversary, President Mahama asked for the support of Ghanaians to enable government to stay strictly within budget, even in the election year of 2016.
He noted that though Ghana has made economic progress and classified as a middle income country, it is experiencing challenges like other emerging economies, especially with regards to macro-economic stability.
That, he said, has been characterised by high fiscal deficits which have, in turn, pushed up inflation and interest rates.
He said the challenges compelled him to put the country on a three-year programme with the IMF to significantly reduce the deficit and bring down inflation and interest rates, aside boosting growth and reducing the debt to sustainable levels.
President Mahama indicated that the country had just completed the first review of the IMF programme, saying that initial reports from the Ghana team had proved positive “and we are on track to achieve a deficit target of 7.5 per cent.”
“This fiscal tightening will help to bring down inflation and also interest rates, and create a much-improved environment for business and investment,” he assured, adding that it would unlock the next tranche of IMF funding to improve the Central Bank’s reserve position.
He stated that the release of multi-donor budget support from the EU and other partners is also expected to inject more finances into the economy.
“The outlook is much brighter with the over-subscribed cocoa syndication financing of some $2.5 billion offered instead of the $1.8 billion we were requesting and the IMF’s approval of Ghana to launch a new Eurobond this year of $ 1.5 billion.”
The President noted that the negative balance of trade continues to be a major stumbling block to economic prosperity, saying with imports far exceeding exports, huge pressure is brought to bear on the country’s foreign exchange.
To reverse the trend, he said, the private sector and industry are working hand in hand with the trade ministry to unveil a comprehensive Made -in-Ghana campaign.
The President also touched on issues bordering on governance and indicated that the fight against corruption was on course, pointing out that the anti-corruption agencies have been given a free hand to investigate corrupt acts.
He pointed out, however, that the intensified efforts to uproot corruption from the social fabric should not be misconstrued that corruption was thriving under a particular regime.
President Mahama announced that a new public complaints process would be unveiled including an on-line portal to allow the public to make any complaints on corruption or abuse of office.
He said if such complaints had substance, they would be referred to the appropriate investigative institution for appropriate action, saying, it would make it easier for the public to perform their watchdog or whistle blower roles.
President Mahama also touched on the bitter atmosphere within which partisan politics is conducted in the country and hinted that he would, this year, open a channel of communication with other political leaders to create a less-polarised political environment.
On sanitation issues, he recalled the recent flooding and its attendant deaths in both Accra and Kumasi, and said it was time the city authorities had free hands to do what needed to be done.
The sanitation courts, he said, should be up and doing by prosecuting cases related to infringement of the by-laws governing the environment.
Ms. Benedicta Naana Biney, the former Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, who spoke on behalf of the senior citizens, stressed the need for the nation to attach much importance to the issue of time management.
She observed that lateness to work and national functions is becoming a national canker which needed to be halted.
Ms. Biney noted that public perception about educational output was not the best in recent times, noting that issues bordering on quality had been reduced, due to lack of supervision.
In another development, Senior Citizens across the regions were hosted to luncheons at the Regional Co-ordinating Councils, to mark Republic Day.
From Tamale, Yakubu Abdul-Majeed reports that the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Limuna Mohammed Muniru, entreated opinion leaders in the region to assist the authority to maintain peace and unity in the area.
He noted that lawlessness and conflicts were hampering the progress and development of the region.
Ahaji Muniru made the call when he addressed a cross section of retired workers, popularly, called Senior Citizens in Tamale to mark this year’s Republic Day.
He commended them for their sacrifices towards the development of the country and urged them to place their vast experiences at the doorstep of the younger generation.
The minister pledged the government’s commitment to continue rolling out policies and programmes to support the senior citizens.
He, however, challenged public officers not to hesitate to consult the senior citizens to enable them to provide quality leadership in their respective offices.
Mohammed A. Ibrahim reports from Bolgatanga that 120 senior citizens from the 13 districts in the region were honoured and feted.
Speaking at the function, the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. James Zuugah Tiigah, said the three Regional Co-ordinating Councils in the north would soon establish three-zone enclaves to offer attractive incentives to investors.
“We are also establishing an inland port at Bolgatanga as a way of creating jobs for the people in the region,” he said.
He said that work on the Pwalugu dam was also at the impact assessment level, adding that some investors had expressed interest in the Northern Star Tomato Factory and the Meat Marketing Board.
He assured the senior citizens that the Council would organise fora and invite experts to educate them on how to give of their best during their active service.
Mr. Robert A. Ajene, a retired educationist, expressed concern over indiscipline in the country.
He stressed the need for Ghanaians to change their attitudes to work to enhance the development of the nation.
By Samuel Nuamah