President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured that a new and lower import regime which will bring down the high duties prevailing at Ghana’s ports, would soon be rolled out.
He said Government, after receiving many petitions to intervene and review the high taxes and duties on imported items, was already in the process of dealing with the matter.
“We have realised from the studies we have done that our ports are not competitive, and the import regime in our country is far too high. We are dealing with it, and, very soon, the measures that government will roll out will become known to all of you. I am not talking next year, or in 6 months’ time, I am talking very, very soon,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo made this known at the weekend when he addressed a townhall meeting of Ghanaians resident in Worcester, Massachusetts, in the United States of America, as part of his visit to that country.
Some trader unions, including the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA), have petitioned the state to intervene and review the high taxes and duties on imported items.
The President told the gathering that the 16th International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme, entered into by the previous government in 2015, should be the last time Ghana resorts to such a programme for the restoration of fiscal discipline in her economy.
He noted that the 2015 IMF programme had to be entered into because “the Mahama government had lost control over the management of the economy.”
It was, thus, necessary to go through the programme to restore a certain amount of discipline into Ghana’s public finances.
“Even when they left office in 2016, the issue was still at large. But, by discipline, by honest management of our public’s finances, we have brought the situation back to where it should be. So, we have exited the IMF programme,” the President said.
“What I am saying to Ghanaians, to all of us, is that, in the 62 years of our independence, this was the 16th IMF bailout programme that the nation had gone into. Let it be the last time that we would resort to an IMF programme.”
President Akufo-Addo assured that “from now on, we are going to maintain the discipline in the management of our public finances, so that we will never have to have recourse to an IMF bailout programme again.”
In order to ensure that his government and successive governments “keep within bounds”, the President told the gathering that his government has passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which, amongst others, caps the fiscal deficit at not more that 5% of the nation’s GDP at any given year.
“We have also established a Presidential Advisory Council headed by some very distinguished, eminent Ghanaian economists who will advise the President on the measures to make sure that we maintain fiscal discipline. We are going to maintain fiscal discipline because that is the basis of managing an economy intelligently and rationally, and giving confidence to investors that they can look into your economy and invest in Ghana,” he added.
The President said the prevailing economic conditions in Ghana, coupled with Government’s determination to maintain fiscal discipline was the reason why major global companies have indicated their readiness to set up in Ghana.
“All of them are doing this and making plans in Ghana because, now, the fundamentals of the economy are in the right place. The Ghanaian economy is looking robust, and is being organized and managed in a disciplined manner,” the President stressed.
Touching on the energy sector, President Akufo-Addo noted that except for some unfortunate incidents, “we have been able to handle ‘dumsor’”.
The $2.4 billion legacy debts in the energy sector, bequeathed to his government by the Mahama administration, he explained is being cleared, adding that “today, we are exporting energy to Burkina Faso, we will begin, again, to Togo.”
The provision of sustainable, reliable power, the President said, is key to the smooth operation of the bauxite, and iron and steel industries that are being created by his administration.
On the vexed issue of vigilantism, President Akufo-Addo reinforced his determination to rid the country of it, stressing that, regardless of the outcome of the meeting between the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress, “legislation is on its way to ban it. We are still going ahead to pass the ‘vigilante law’.”