President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday assured that government is taking measures to fix the cedi’s fragility, urging a greater dependence by the citizenry on local goods and services rather than imports.
Already, he said, the cedi has begun to show signs of recovery: “I am hoping that the downward trend will continue, and it will get further and further down so that the recent upset will be wiped out”.
The president gave this reassurance in an interaction with leadership of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) at Jubilee House in Accra, at which the Association raised concerns about the cedi’s fall against other trading currencies, and the current energy situation in the country.
He told the GBA that the cedi-depreciation was the result of overdependence on imports for sustenance by Ghanaians, indicating that the issue is a major worry for his government, because “the difficulties that temporary dislocations in the currency bring about touches all of us. and there is a need for us to find solutions.
“There are structural problems that we have so far not articulated loudly, in my view. We live in a country where we are overly-dependent on the importation of things for our daily sustenance; things that we can produce we continue to import, and at the same time we don’t generate enough exports.
“It is the issue of persistent deficit in the national income statistics on current account that gives rise to the frailty of our currency…This is the matter that we should all understand as being the real origin of our currency’s fragility,” the president stated.
President Akufo-Addo said the Trade Ministry will soon come out with a list that shows Ghana’s import profile, “for all of us to see the kind of things we use our money to buy”; adding, “I’m prepared to bet that 70 percent of the things on that list are things we can produce for ourselves in this country.
“This is the importance of the One District, One Factory initiative. It is not just a political gimmick. It is an attempt to address the issue of being more self-reliant. This whole ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ mantra that is now abroad is about self-reliance, of doing for ourselves things that we continue to depend on other people to do for us.
“When you buy things from abroad you are creating work outside Ghana, which you could create inside this country,” he said, insisting that Ghanaians ought to “focus more on being competitive in our attitude to the things that we produce.
“Last year, we produced a lot of food [and] we were able to make significant money from it by exporting to our neighbours…this is the discussion we should be engaged in as a nation, and focus on what it is that we need do as a nation to turn around that narrative, to turn around the fragility of the currency; because the days of fixed exchange rates, those days are over.
“Yes, the central banks can intervene to assist in one way or another, but ultimately the it is market forces which determine the state of the currency. If you are spending money you don’t have, invariably you are going to find yourself in problem,” the president said.
He is hopeful that effects from the impact of government’s intervention in the matter will be roundly felt in the shortest time.
On the current energy situation, President Akufo-Addo said the matter is a temporary logistical set-back that is being addressed. “I believe the worst part of what we have recently seen is behind us…and we should receive a much more stable, even and regular supply of electricity.”
The GBA also raised issues about the need to uphold the rule of law in the country, for which President Akufo-Addo demanded support from the entire citizenry to address the increasing culture of impunity.
He said though government has the responsibility to ensure a law-based state, wider society should be involved in the process of making the country one of law and order.
“I believe that calling on the Executive to be alive to its responsibility is the right civic responsibility you are discharging,” he told the GBA, adding: “I am sensitive to it, and accept the challenge to ensure that our society is not one that condones impunity”.
Touching on vexed issues of vigilantism, the president noted that the phenomenon “forms part and parcel of the acts of impunity we need to deal with.
“We are dealing with it in difficult circumstances…there is still considerable unemployment, so its relatively easy to co-opt the young people into all kinds of dangerous activities. But we need to come to grips with it, and I want to assure you that whatever steps need to be taken to deal with the issue of nominal impunity, I am going to do my best to deal with them.
“I call for your support and the support of right-thinking citizens in our society, to continue the effort that is being made to drive impunity out of our system and uphold and safeguard the rule of law,” he said.