A change of government in any country comes with high expectations from the citizenry, the public and private sectors, and the international community. For the business world and economy watchers like me, the expectations are mainly the policy interventions that will translate the political capital into concrete policy programs that will set the economy on a pace of growth.
There is a lot that needs to be done to revitalize our almost moribund economy and make it grow more than it did the previous year. The new president and his team, who have just taken office, on 7th January, will determine the quality of life of Ghanaians for the next four years.
The president and his team
The success and progress of any government does not just depend on the President but most especially the team of experienced experts, corrupt free and dedicated individuals to be chosen to form the government. The kind of persons the President chooses to form his government will determine the extent to which his vision and policy direction will impact on the economy and the citizenry. Although there would be pressure on the President to satisfy individuals who supported his election into office and party folks, the paramount goal must be focused on individuals who have the requisite experience, exposure and believe in his vision and ideological path for the country.
It is recommended that the President constitutes a team of both the old experience experts and young experience folks for them to share ideas.The first on the scale of high expectations of most Ghanaians are the appointment of the ministers, especially the minister of Finance. The management of the fiscal and monetary policies of the country will in a large measure determine the growth of business and attraction of foreign direct investments. The people expect a finance team that can set the foundation for businesses to flourish with policy interventions that will strengthen the local currency against the currencies of our trading partners.
The other ministers must also be experienced, well educated, dedicated, and confident with the passion to serve the country. Previous governments have been criticized for appointing in experienced and corrupt individuals to serve and many believe it is one of the key reasons why our country has not realized its touted economic growth.
Job creation and unemployment
The Ghanaian people are of high hopes and expectations for the fulfillment of the main campaign promise made by the President. A promise to create jobs and implement policies to sustain and grow businesses. The concept of job creation is same as wealth creation and can be realized when the government implements a new tax regime that makes business grow and expand to create more jobs. This can be done through tax breaks and incentives to those companies and institutions that employ and have potential of employing.
The economy of Ghana is driven largely by the revenue from agriculture and agricultural processing because the vast majority of the population is into this sector of the economy It is highly expected that the new government as it takes office will implement policies and strategies that will increase the production and exportation of our produce.
On the other hand, the new Government can win the hearts of the population if it revives the manufacturing sector and focuses on manufacturing led growth. The small and medium, micro enterprises sector must be empowered and promoted vigorously to increase export of local produce and manufactured items. If this is done, it will not only create jobs but the country will benefit from foreign exchange inflows that will strengthen the Cedi.
Government should put in measures to reduce the importation of foreign produce and products that are keenly competing with the local ones. This may be achieved when high taxes are placed on these imported goods competing with our local one .ie to discourage their importation.
Empower small businesses and startups
Policies and policy implementation that will make businesses and institutions grow is what the new government needs to do. One of the key most important things to do for this realization of agenda is for the Central Bank to review downward its monetary policy rate. Currently the MPC is 25.5% which is still high making the cost of borrowing high and this translates into the high cost of doing business in the country. Interest rates are very high and unstable, making projections and forecasting very impossible for businesses.
The new government needs to implement policy strategy to make loans and facilities accessible and affordable for businesses and startups to encourage the youth to start their own businesses to reduce unemployment.
Energy and Power
The Ghanaian economy was drastically affected by the power crises (DUMSOR) which saw both the private and public sector lose greatly, revenue and growth. Most businesses collapsed, others were stagnated whereas most folded up and relocated to neighboring countries. Currently, the people of Ghana do not know the state of the power crises since the last government shrouded everything in secrecy.
The new government must provide information to the people of Ghana on the current state of the power & energy sector and what strategies and plans they are putting in place to prevent the power crises (DUMSOR) from occurring again.
Inflation & Exchange rate
The new Government must within the first 100 days implement a policy strategy to address the Inflation and Exchange rate challenges that face the country. There is the need to quickly fix the supply bottlenecks to get the economy working. I suggest a well-designed short and medium term anti-inflationary strategy and exchange rate regime to address the supply bottlenecks. With a strong monetary policy document implementation in place, these challenges can be resolved.
Recommendations to the new government
The success of this new government is solely dependent on the individuals the Commander in Chief appoints to the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). The President must ensure that those he appoints are experienced, disciplined, dedicated, incorruptible and have the passion to serve mother Ghana.
The new government should not rush or fast truck any decisions in full filling any of its campaign promises within the first 100 days but rather allow the economic policy team to analyze and assess the state of the economy before any decisions are made since there are dire consequences for any hasty financial decisions made on the economy.
The Government must communicate its strategy and policy plan on how it intends to solve and address the power crises (DUMSOR) within its first 50 days in office. This is very crucial and important to both the private and public sectors of the economy.
A Government with the main objective of job creation and economic development must ensure that a policy document is presented to parliament within the first 100 days on all state owned enterprises, its management, corporate governance standards and appointments. Government must ensure that very qualified and experienced individuals are appointed to the boards and top executive positions of all SOEs.
With the high expectations in the business environment, citizenry and the international community, performance and results cannot be compromised. The new President has confidence and has promised to deliver on campaign pledges. The new government should operate an all-inclusive government and consult more any time the need arises so to achieve its objectives. I wish the new president well and pray for wisdom and knowledge for him to govern and bring growth to the good people of our nation. As a nation we all have individual responsibilities to ensure that our country grows and moves forward for financial and economic stability and in freedom.