President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said government is working hard to ensure macroeconomic gains achieved over the past year are not reversed, and the country does not return to the IMF for bail-outs.
Delivering his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament yesterday, the president touted the achievements of his government – saying measures are being taken to ensure that the country does not fall back into the economic abyss he inherited.
“I am also pleased to report that the 3-year IMF-supported Extended Credit Facility Programme, begun in 2015, comes to an end this year. The relatively good macroeconomic performance in 2017 will strongly support our successful completion of the IMF programme.
“We are determined to put in place measures to ensure irreversibility and sustain macroeconomic stability, so that we will have no reason to seek again the assistance of that powerful global body,” he said.
According to the president, his government has succeeded in reducing some taxes – bringing down inflation and interest rates, and boosting economic growth from 3.6 percent in 2016 to about 8 percent last year.
“We have increased our international reserves, maintained relative exchange rate stability, reduced the debt to GDP ratio and the rate of debt accumulation; we have paid almost half of the arrears inherited, and, crucially, we are current on obligations to statutory funds,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Having campaigned largely on rising unemployment, President Akufo-Addo revealed that structures have been put in place to help small and medium-scale enterprises and budding entrepreneurs through the challenging start-up years.
The availability of cheaper credit is good news for business in general, and means better prospects for jobs, he said.
“Government has established the Nation Builders Corps to employ 100,000 young persons, in 2018 alone, to assist in public sector service delivery in health, education, agriculture, sanitation and the revenue collection department of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA),” the President reiterated.
The Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship Programme, launched at the Accra Digital Centre with ten regional training centres, has already recruited 3,000 young, unemployed people to undergo a 3-month all-expenses-paid training, the president indicated.
“I am happy to announce that Ecobank Ghana Ltd. has already offered to engage all 3,000-young people, after the training programme. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
The President revealed that government has transferred about GH₵3.1bn of Tier 2 pension funds into the custodial accounts of the labour unions’ pension schemes – funds that have been outstanding for six years.
He also announced plans to invest GH₵200m to combat poor sanitation across the country.
“Urgent attention will be given to clearing rubbish all around the country. Apart from the systematic efforts being made to resolve the legacy of inherited debts in the sector, government will spend this year an amount of GH₵200m to address the vexed issue of sanitation.”
The start of the digital address system, the introduction of paperless transactions at the ports, and the rapid and continuing spread of broadband services is helping to formalise and modernise the economy, the President stressed.
On Railways, the President said government is in the final stages of agreeing with a significant investor the terms of a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) Agreement for the Takoradi to Kumasi rail line, which will be presented to Parliament this year.
A contractor, he said, is already on site for construction of the Kojokrom to Manso section of the Takoradi to Kumasi rail line.
“The process has commenced to select a suitable partner for constructing the Eastern Line, from Accra to Tema to Kumasi. We aim to break ground this year. The Central Spine, from Kumasi to Paga, is also receiving attention and consultants have been engaged to advise government on the best model for development of the line.
“Ghana and Burkina Faso are in earnest discussions as to the realisation Tema-Ouagadougou railway line. There are fortnightly meetings, either in Accra or Ouagadougou, and we are confident that deliberations will conclude and actual construction commence by the third quarter of this year,” the President added.