President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the living condition in the country is much better now than it was when he took over government three years ago.
He said although the country had not yet achieved full middle-income status, economic growth had been steady, inflation and interest rates had dropped, with all the macro-economic indicators pointing in the right direction.
In an encounter with the media at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday, President Akufo-Addo highlighted the economic gains of his administration, indicating that the growth figures were not mere statistics but true reflection of the living condition in Ghana.
He addressed a wide range of issues bordering on agriculture, health, corruption, foreign policy, economy and chieftaincy, among others, and invited a number of questions from the media.
The President said having inherited an economy that was on an IMF support, his administration had an onerous task of positioning the country on the path of growth and had, so far, made significant progress in that regard.
Contrary to reports by IMANI and other civil society organisations that the government had not achieved up to 50 per cent of its promises, the President said his administration had achieved 72 per cent of the promises it made to Ghanaians in the run-up to the 2016 elections and was on course to fulfill all the promises before the next election.
“We need to make sure that we hold the macro-economic fundamentals in good place if we want to sustain the gains made,” he said, and pledged to continue to work to improve the economic figures to sustain the country’s growth and prosperity.
President Akufo-Addo gave an update of the social intervention programmes of his administration, noting that the programmes were aimed at ensuring that “money does not become a barrier to access to public services like education and health, among others”.
He said while interventions such as the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy had increased access to education without money becoming a barrier, many jobs had been created in sectors such as health and education.
Through the Nation Builders Corps and other interventions, about 300,000 people had, so far, been added to the government’s payroll, he said, and promised to pursue policies to open up access to public services to all Ghanaians.
On the One District One Factory policy, aimed at creating factories in all districts across the country, he said the policy was making significant progress, with 58 currently in operation.
According to the President, contrary to assertions that the programme had stalled, it was rather making progress.
He said the government was working towards completing 181 factories under the policy by the end of next year.
President Akufo-Addo touched on the government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs Policy, and said that the success so far was “spectacular.”
Through state-sponsored support for small holder farmers, he said the country had recorded bumper harvest in the production of crops such as rice, maize, and cassava, adding that “today, we are net exporters of food because of the success of the Planting for Foods and Jobs.”
He expressed the government’s commitment to check the smuggling of subsidised fertiliser, which had become a major challenge in the implementation of the programme, by policing the porous borders and creating systems of distribution that would make it difficult for smuggling.
President Akufo-Addo further announced plans by the government to diversify the country’s cash crop production by focusing on the production and export of crops such as cashew, rubber, palm nut, shea nut and mango, among others.
“All these can also earn us a lot of money,” he said, and noted that those cash crops could fetch the country as much as cocoa was earning.
He announced plans by the government to create a new authority to oversee the development of those cash crops.
The President also touched on the Rearing for Food and Jobs programme aimed at improving the production of cattle, goat, pig and sheep, among others, and said that the programme was geared towards enhancing the country’s capacity to feed its citizens without relying on donor supports to the agricultural sector.
“We can support our farmers when we eat what we grow,” he said, and added that government would make efforts to encourage more Ghanaians to patronise locally produced food crops to support farmers.
President Akufo-Addo further touched on the development of the country’s bauxite and manganese potential and announced that the development of those minerals would begin from next year.
On corruption, the President said 25 people cited in corruption allegations from the previous administration, were currently facing trial.
He said the total monies involved in the corruption cases run into billions of cedis.
Contrary to criticisms that the government was not interested in prosecuting officials accused of corruption, he said efforts were being made to seek justice for the state.
President Akufo-Addo was quick to add, however, that the government would not allow public pressure to derail efforts to secure justice through fair and legal means.
BY YAW KYEI