President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says for the first time in a long while, Ghana’s macroeconomic fundamentals are solid and the critical indices are pointing in the right direction.
Delivering the State of the Nation Address yesterday in Parliament, President Akufo-Addo said the world was taking notice of Ghana’s economic strides.
“Earlier in January, the World Bank stated that Ghana’s economy would probably grow by 8.3 percent this year, which would make it the fastest growing economy in the world.
“Last week, Bloomberg described Ghana’s Stock Exchange as the best-performing Stock Exchange in the world for January 2018. The report illustrated how the Ghana Stock Exchange Composite Index has gained 19 percent since the start of the year, in dollar terms, ahead of the Nigerian, Chinese and Brazilian Stock Markets.”
He said government had put in place structures to help Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) and budding entrepreneurs through their challenging start-up years.
Also, he said his administration had 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).
He noted: “We have launched the Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship Programme at the Accra Digital Centre. This programme, with 10 regional training centres, has already recruited 3,000 young, unemployed people, to undergo a 3-month all-expenses-paid training. “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.”
Touching on the country’s energy front, the president said government intends to find private sector operators to buy into the state owned thermal plants and inject the capital needed to bring power tariffs down for both domestic and commercial consumers.
“A lot of hard work has gone into easing the intolerable debt situation that threatened to paralyse the energy industry. We still have problems with the cost of power, and we are working to put Ghana at a competitive advantage.”
President Akufu-Addo said government “has also reduced taxes, brought down inflation and interest rates, while economic growth is increasing from the alarming 3.6 percent at December 2016, to 7.9 percent in our first year, and the indications are that it will be even better this 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 arrears inherited, and crucially we are current on obligations to statutory funds.”
He also said the three-year IMF-supported Extended Credit Facility Programme, which began in 2015, would come to an end this year, adding that the relatively good macroeconomic performance in 2017 would strongly support the successful completion of the IMF programme.
“We have restored teacher and nursing training allowances. We have doubled the capitation grant, and to confound the sceptics and professional naysayers, we have implemented Free Senior High School (SHS) education. It has enabled 90,000 more students gain access to Senior High School education in 2017 than in 2016.”
The President averred that the country’s fiscal deficit had reduced from 9.3 percent to an estimated 5.6 percent of GDP.
“The annual average rate of debt accumulation, which in recent years, has been as high as 36 percent, has declined to 13.6 percent, as at September 2017. As a result, the public debt stock as a ratio of GDP is 68.3 percent, against the annual target of 71 percent for 2017, and end 2016 actual figure of 73.1 percent.”
By Samuel Boadi