The Presidency Thursday said contrary to perception that the Government was doing little to protect the public purse, it was applying the country’s resources efficiently, effectively and judiciously to enhance the growth and development of Ghana and its people.
It said the transformation that had taken place in all aspects of national life pointed to an economy that had been well-managed, and “a public purse that is being well-protected, and the benefits are showing.”
This was in reaction to the recent call on the Government by the Catholic Bishops Conference to take immediate steps to halt what it said was the excessive dissipation of the country’s resources by politicians and their cronies for personal gains.
The President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Most Reverend Philip Naameh, at the Catholic Bishops Conference held in Wa recently, said the situation lent credence to perceived corruption and corruptible practices among the ruling class, and was taking a toll on the national economy and the well-being of the masses.
“Though poverty stares us in the face, it appears lost to those with power. The expressed commitment of the President of the Republic to protect the public purse, a promise that citizens welcomed, seems to be an illusion now. Are those managing the public purse not concerned about waste and misapplication of resources that belong to all Ghanaians? Can this be referred to as irresponsible use of power or the lack of compassion and empathy?” he quizzed.
But Mr Eugene Arhin, the Director of Communications at the Presidency, told the media at the weekly Jubilee House Press Briefing that the Catholic Bishops Conference were interpreting the facts differently.
He said: “Indeed, if President Akufo-Addo had superintended over the wanton dissipation of public funds, the Ghanaian people would not have reposed their confidence in him by returning a decisive margin of victory for him in the 2020 elections.
“President Akufo-Addo took office in January 2017, and, again, in January 2021, and pledged to protect the public purse, and that is exactly what he has done, and continues to do,” he stressed.
Mr Arhin noted that but for the prudent management of the public purse, government would not have been able to successfully implement the flagship Free Senior High School programme that now guarantees a minimum of senior high school education for all Ghanaian children, and had already granted access to over 400,000 more children.
He also tallied several other government programmes such as the Planting for Food and Jobs, which has brought 1.5 million farmers into its orbit, who through subsidized inputs like fertilizers, seeds, insecticides among others, have made Ghana a net exporter of food stuffs within the ECOWAS Community.
“Today, through the prudent use of public resources, 104 factories, through Government’s 1D1F initiative, are operating, and are providing jobs for thousands of unemployed youths. 150 more factories are under construction, and the remaining 24 are at the mobilization stage, and would provide more jobs for residents of the districts, particularly our youth, ” he said.
“If, indeed, the protection of the public purse was a mirage, the Akufo-Addo government would not have found the means to employ hundreds of thousands of teachers and medical professionals, who, before the coming into office of this administration, were sitting at home twiddling their thumbs. NABCO, which has brought relief to some 100,000 graduates, would not have been feasible if the public purse was not being protected.
“The effective roll-out of the National Identification Card has seen some 15.6 million Ghanaians issued with identification cards, up from the 700,000 issued under the 8-years of the Mahama Government. This Government has found the resources to undertake the largest construction of road infrastructure in Ghana’s history. Ghana, under President Akufo-Addo, has, recently, been adjudged as the best place to do business in West Africa,” he stated.
Mr Arhin was emphatic that because of the prudent management of the country’s scares resources, government was able to effectively implement the social intervention programmes such as the free food, free electricity and free water to the most vulnerable in society during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
“The extensive measures taken by Government during the crisis, which are still ongoing, went a long way to protecting the Ghanaian people, a feat that was widely acknowledged across the world. Indeed, there were many who felt safer here, in Ghana, than in many so-called advanced countries because of the way Government took control over the spread of the virus”.
“In the midst of COVID-19, when most of the economies of the world found themselves in recession, Ghana was one of the very few economies that reported positive growth. High fuel prices, high freight charges, rising cost of living, are not Ghanaian phenomena, they are the order of the day across the globe, unfortunately.
“Just as every country on earth is confronted with these difficult challenges, largely as a result of the impact of COVID-19, Ghana, under President Akufo-Addo, is making every effort, through the Ghana CARES Obaatampa Programme, to alleviate the hardships brought forth by the pandemic.”
Additionally, government is currently engaged in paying up the energy legacy debts it inherited, and have since cleared the GH¢1.2 billion of the National Health Insurance Scheme debt it also inherited.
“All of these could, certainly, not have been achieved by a Government that has lost touch with the problems of Ghanaians, or by one that is presiding over the reckless dissipation of the public purse,” the Communications Director said.
Mr Arhin stressed that for as much as the Government was “extremely tolerant of divergent views, and welcomes criticisms of its work, we believe these criticisms should be well-founded and well-grounded in fact, as this is the only way an honest conversation, devoid of malice and propaganda, can be held.”
He gave the assurance that the Government would continue to work for the development of Ghana, and help improve the standards of living of every Ghanaian.
“Far from being out of touch, the Government is highly focused on delivering on its mandate”.
Mr Arhin who also addressed reports, suggesting that the Government sent 337 delegates to the United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, said those accounts were not true.
“From what we have seen so far, it has been shown that not all the 337 persons who registered as participants attended the Summit. There were media personalities, as well as representatives from CSOs, who are captured on the list of 337 persons, and who confirm that their trip to Glasgow was not funded by Government.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me place on record that the official presidential delegation comprised of 24 persons, including the President, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Energy, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and officials of the Presidency and Foreign Ministry,” he said.