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By: Nana Akua Tweneboah-Koduah

October 1, 2014

 

ghana-flagIf you have been listening and following too much to the cries and barking of the ?gloom and doom prophets? in Ghana, notably politicians, perhaps you may be missing out of certain key economic events that are taking place in country today, and which will help in shaping the country in the next year or two. Indeed if you have solely tuned in to those who have written off the country as a back case, you will certainly not take note of anything good brewing in Ghana.

 

I surely want you to zoom in to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra. President John Mahama made a lot of good noise about a two-year three-tier interchange project worth about 74.9 million Euros that will transform the circle into a motorist and pedestrian friendly zone with connections to various suburbs in Accra.

 

When President Mahama cut the sod for the commencement of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle project, many Ghanaians especially those who do not want to see any successes chalked under his government just shrugged their shoulders and thought the whole project was a political gambit.

 

Ghanaians who are always praying and thinking positively about the advancement of the country must brace themselves and pay a visit to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to see the progress of work. Indeed if you happen to pass the area today, even if you continue not to give Mahama any credit whatsoever, your heart will surely gladden that the project is on course and that its completion will help in solving one of the major road logjams in the country.

 

Imagine the huge relief and reduction of cost that will benefit tens of thousands of motorists who daily burn in trafficjust by using the Kwame Nkrumah Circle when the project is commissioned next year. Currently,estimateputs vehicular traffic at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle at more than 84,000 per day.

 

Like it or not President Mahama who carries the load of the country has had a good feeling about the economy in spite of all the constraints. In fact,Mahama has been the one-man standing, always preaching patience and optimism and asking Ghanaians to give him some time for him to fix the economy.

 

It got to a time when the currency exchange rate changed more than twice in a given day, with some businesspersons who want to see the speedy demise of President Mahama?s government buying and stacking the dollars in droves. There was panic and uncertainty everywhere with no hope in sight. We even saw some men of God cashing in big time by giving up on Mother Ghana. However, President Mahama did not.

 

Even when all the naysayers including the famous Pastor Mensa Otabil, owner of the Central University College and other chain of businesses wrote off the economic, President Mahama was still optimistic. Do you remember that Pastor Otabil predicted that Ghana?s currency would fall to 10 cedis against a dollar by the end of 2014? In addition, Pastor Otabil slammed Archbishop Duncan Williams who was praying for the cedi to rebound, by saying that prayers cannot save the economy.

 

However, God being so good, and being who He is, the cedi has held its own against the dollar recently. For more than two weeks, the galloping cedi has hit good waters and has stabilized against the dollar sending good feel signals all over the country. Suddenly, the investor confidence,which became shaky,is coming back.

 

Let us move to Tamale to see what has happened there lately. We all know how the annual Hajj became an albatross on all past governments until President Mills? government of which President Mahama was part moved in to resolve and bring some sanity in the way pilgrims are registered and their documents processed for the pilgrimage to Mecca. Even with the construction of the Hajj Village in Accra, pilgrims who mainly travel from the northern parts of Ghana to Accra to embark on the trip to Mecca always have some harrowing stories to tell.

 

Now zoom in again to the Tamale Airport. It is barely two weeks ago that President Mahama broke the grounds for work to commence on the $100 million USD expansion project of the Tamale Airport into an international airport, which would be able to accommodate Boeings 747 up to 800 series.

 

This is a huge project, whose economic and social impart may have escaped the lenses of many. If the Tamale Airport goes international, do you know the huge positive surge that will go for President Mahama? The Hajj pilgrims who normally travel to Accra and face a lot of hustles will no longer have to come down to Accra. They only have to go to the Tamale International Airport and catch their flights to Mecca. What is more, the travel time for the pilgrims to Mecca and Jeddah would cut down by one hour. Is this something good to talk about?

 

The Spintex Road in Accra, especially the area around the Accra Mall is another trouble spot for motorists. The area is always jammed with traffic, which is why the government saw the need to create a by-pass behind the Accra Polo Club towards the Spintex Road. Even with this intervention, traffic lockdown is always a problem. There is now another positive activity in the area. To those who are not aware, there is a new one-way road being constructed in front of the Casa Trasacco Stores to link motorists to Spintex. Motorists no longer have to squeeze around the Accra Mall to hit the Spintex Road, as the road leading from Spintex to the Accra Mall will become a one-lane. This will be a big plus by helping motorists to cut down on the time they scale through around the Accra Mall.

 

When the economy hit some turbulent waters this year, we saw many people in the opposition saying investors no longer want to do business in Ghana. Is it therefore not interesting that a country, which is no longer exciting to investors, will be able to issue its third 1 billion dollar Eurobond. In addition, the icing on the cake is that the Eurobond was oversubscribed. The amount, meant for capital projects,will hit the books of Ghana shortly. Just imagine what that amount would do for the economy of Ghana and how it would further help the cedi to hold its own against the dollar. Many Ghanaians are now running away from the dollar fearing it will further tank against the cedi.

 

Let us now move to the cocoa front or to Ghana Cocobod. The Ghana Cocobod has finalized arrangement for a 2 billion dollar cocoa syndicated loan for the 2013/2014 cocoa season, which will also help in stabilizing the economy and further help the cedi to appreciate against the dollar. Imagine how the wind of good tidings has turned in the favour of President Mahama and Ghana just within a month. He preached patience, patience and patience, but nobody will listen. Now it is paying off.

 

At the Ministry of Finance, certain checks and balances are in place to curtail wastages in the system. As a result, budgets of all the ministries have received some slashes whilst heads of agencies under various ministries have to defend their budget estimates. You do not get what you do not need! These are measures instituted by President Mahama, to bring sanity and accountability into the public and civil services.

 

Ghana is currently talking with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the cedi fell sharply against the dollar.? The aim is to seek help to inspire policy credibility in the country?s economy, which will eventually help the country into full middle-income status. Again, we have the naysayers who have slammed such a move by throwing in so many scenarios notably among them the dismissal of tens of thousands of workers. However, what they have forgotten is that Spain, Argentina and others are going through such strains and have sought help to revamp their economies. Did ex-President Kufuor not take Ghana to HIPC? So what is the big deal if Mahama seeks help from the IMF for the good of the country?

 

Many governmental institutions have huge Internally Generated Funds (IGF) running into millions of cedis. These institutions therefore do not need anyfunds from government for their operational activities. Yet year-by-year government spends huge sums of monies by way of paying for the compensations and other benefits of their workers in addition to the payment of other key essentials. This is the wastage in its highest form.

 

The good news is President Mahama intends to wean off these self-sustainable institutions from the government?s back. Many of such institutions have been identified, and talks are underway to wean them off the back of government so that those monies paid to such institutions every month could be used to fund other capital projects around the country.

 

Ghana spends around 6 million cedis daily to subsidize fuel. Imagine if this fuel subsidy goes away and the monies channelled towards other essential needs of the country. Ghanaians are always seeking for the best but nobody wants to pay for the price. Just imagine top businesses doing brisk business in Ghana yet many of them fail to pay taxes to the government.

 

I have said it sometime ago that if only 45% of Ghanaians make their tax obligations, the country will be far more a better place to live. Yet, it is those who rake in billions of cedis but fail to pay their taxes who turn round and slam the government when the country hit the economic turbulent.

 

President Mahama has embarked on so many other capital projects scattered in different regions. People are not talking about them. However, Ghanaians whose lives are affected by these projects coming to their areas see and talk about them. Those people do not care that much about the shouting and bad-mouthing on television and radio stations. All they care is the roads, schools, water and electricity coming into their locality.

 

I am pleading with President Mahama as a matter of urgency to do something about the one-lane overpass that links East Legon (near the East Legon Police Station) to the Spintex Road. The huge traffic at that area is very chaotic. I wish President Mahama will disguise himself one day and use that road to have a better feel about the situation. It is a single lane therefore; traffic is blocked from one side every two to three minutes.

 

I hope Dr Maurice Ampaw, the lawyer who has made Joy New TV station his law chambers and that IMANI guy, Franklin Cudjoe who comments about everything just to have their two cents of fame have taken note of the good tidings brewing in Ghana. This message also goes for businessman and Pastor Mensa Otabil. Indeed, something good is happening in Ghana.

 

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