Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Nana Akufo-Addo
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Nana Akufo-Addo

?Now Targets Economy and Corruption ?Abandones Free SHS ?Bawumia Begins attack today

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Nana Akufo-Addo
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Nana Akufo-Addo

The twice-defeated Presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his political prot?g?, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia are said to have devised a new strategy of focusing on two main issues to prosecute their campaign for the 2016 general election if they are retained.

Opposition strategists very closed to the defeated candidate of the NPP said the two issues their candidates will focus on in the next election are the economy and corruption.

According to the strategists, ?Nana Addo knows that it will be impossible for the Mahama-led government to get an economic turn around and put the economy on a path of sustainable growth that can reduce the current hardship before the 2016 elections.?

?So, if President Mahama and his NDC have ?stolen? our message on free SHS, then we have no alternative than to adopt other issues to try and oust him from the presidency?, the source disclosed on condition of anonymity.

As a prelude to this strategy, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia will today, on a platform provided by Pastor Otabil launch surgical operations against the Mahama administration on the state of the national economy, and he is expected to dwell on the deteriorating macro-economic fundamentals with special attention to the dwindling fortunes of the local currency, the Cedi.

?Dr Bawumia, an economist and former deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) will also seek to give meaning to what they think is the NPP?s vision of economic transformation of the country,? a source close to Nana Addo told this paper on condition of anonymity.

Confirming this change of strategy in his recent speech to declare his intention to contest the 2016 elections, Nana Addo pummeled the Mahama administration over its handling of the economy and commitment over fight against corruption.

?The biggest threat to our democracy is the potential loss of confidence in the democratic system and the takeover of fear where there used to be hope. Our people see all around them corruption, economic hardships, falling standards in education, inefficient public service system, joblessness, especially amongst the youth, and insecurity. They see a wide gap between what some politicians promise and what they deliver. That is dangerous for all of us. We need to restore hope and confidence in our young people; we need to restore hope and confidence in the leadership of the nation. Every child must have the best education that this nation can provide. We need to offer young people hope, education, and skills for decent jobs with decent pay.

?We can no longer postpone the need for the structural transformation of our economy. Our current raw-material producing economy is incapable of generating the jobs that our young people need and deserve. It is vital that we put in place a comprehensive, systematic programme for the industrialisation of Ghana, so that, by the end of the next decade, industrial products, not raw materials, will dominate Ghana?s economy. We need to work out the fiscal, monetary and technological incentives that can stimulate local production of goods and services by the private sector. That is the way to deal with widespread unemployment and low wages. That is the programme that the NPP, under my leadership, will be committed to delivering. Alas, all of this hinges on fixing our energy situation. Nothing must be spared to fix it. We cannot continue blaming an Act of God or Nigerians for our predicament. It is Ghana made, pure and simple. And, it must be fixed by
Ghanaians.

?As the experiences of the successful countries in Asia and elsewhere have shown, government has a very important and positive role to play in spurring industrialisation and economic transformation. It needs not be state-owned; it needs rather the vision, commitment and intelligent support of the state.

?But, to succeed in industrialising Ghana, we must show a far greater seriousness in building the nation?s infrastructure, including not only power, but also housing, transport, water, irrigation, and ICT. I believe we could have done much more recently even with the limited resources available. A major impediment to this is the worrying deficit in value-for-money when it comes to public procurements. The World Bank and Government of Ghana estimate a funding gap of some US$2 billion per annum to meet Ghana?s infrastructural needs. Yet, we managed to register a record budget deficit of more than US$4bn in 2012 alone, which occurred without even meeting our spending targets for infrastructural development in that election year. Two years on, our new Finance Minister continues to struggle to plug that fiscal hole instead of spending his vital energies to stimulate the economy.

?The current economic difficulties call for efficient and honest management of public resources and projects. Much of the difficulties facing the country today can be traced to widespread corruption and the apparent inability on the part of the current leadership to fight corruption.

?The depressing reality is that corruption is costing the nation jobs, as government chooses to pay more money for less. Corruption is denying our children money to fund their education, the school feeding programme is starved of cash, ask yourself why? Contractors are not being paid. Ask yourself why? Our development partners are refusing to release funds to support our budget, ask yourself why? Salaries are in arrears, ask yourself why? Unlike what we are witnessing today, what Ghana needs is a government that makes the issue of giving value for money the underlining principle for managing public funds. We need that to develop greater confidence in the economy.

?I have learnt a lot in my four decades in frontline politics. I continue to learn. I have made mistakes in my life, I have said things I could on hindsight have put better. I have tasted defeats and also chalked some successes. I have played my part to see multiparty democracy becoming entrenched in our nation. I was part of President Kufuor?s team that demonstrated to our people that a liberal democracy can deliver on laying the foundations for economic prosperity. I want to be part of winning the next challenge: which is to build a modern, industrialised society in Ghana, where every citizen has the opportunity to prosper. This is the driving force of my life. I will stay true to what I believe in, no matter the pressures to do what is convenient.

?I am clear and convinced about the direction in which we must go as a country. I have been consistent on this because I believe in it.

?I am convinced Ghana can do better than this current state of affairs. And, I believe we can make the change that will make us better than this. We have unfinished business. And, I am ready to get back to work?. Nana AkufoAddo told jubilant party supporters at his Nima residence last Thursday.

For two years in succession under the present administration, the county has registered ballooned fiscal and current account deficits and there seems to be no turnaround in sight as other indicators such as inflation, interest rates and the national debt are rising up.

At its recent emergency meeting to review the economy, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) said, the Ghanaian ?economy continued to experience fiscal pressures, exchange rate depreciation and cost-push effects from higher petroleum and utility prices,? which comes about as a result of the removal of subsidies last year to correct the yawning fiscal deficit of 2012.

According to MPC, inflation expectations have heightened and headline inflation ended 2013 at 13.5 percent, above the target band of 9?2 percent.

?Fiscal consolidation for 2013 was slower than anticipated. The overall budget deficit was provisionally estimated at 10.2 percent of GDP against a target of 9.0 percent, following a deficit of 11.8 percent in 2012.

?Expenditures were broadly on target; however revenues were significantly below target, resulting in the fiscal slippages.

?The fiscal imbalances and the external pressures resulted in a current account deficit of 12.3 percent of GDP up from 12.1 percent in 2012.

?This was on account of worsened terms of trade, and a significant decline in net current transfer receipts.

?It may be useful to note that cocoa and gold export receipts declined by $1.3 billion in the year. The overall balance of payments deficit of $1.2 billion thus remained the same as in 2012.

?These developments in the fiscal and external sector together with the global pressures resulted in a depreciation of the Cedi by 14.6 percent against the US Dollar in 2013 compared to 17.5 percent in 2012. However, we have observed a much faster pace of depreciation since end-December 2013. As at the end of January 2014, the Cedi had depreciated by 7.8 percent against the US Dollar compared to 0.2 percent in the corresponding period in 2013.

Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur on his part recently said government has resolved to take the necessary actions to reverse the current economic challenges, and put the economy back on the path of growth, according to a report from the Ghana News Agency (GNA).

He acknowledged that there are challenges with the current economic indicators, but expressed the hope that ?with time, government will be able to reverse the trend.?

The Vice President gave the assurance when a delegation from the African Development Bank, paid a courtesy call on him at the Flagstaff House, at Kanda in Accra.

The team, led by Professor Mthuli Ncube, is in Ghana to assess the performance of projects being assisted by the bank.

The Vice President noted that the loss in the export values of gold and cocoa had exerted significant pressure on the nation?s economic performance.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur recalled that the Bank of Ghana recently announced policies to reverse further fall of the Ghana Cedi against major foreign currencies, and added that the Minister of Finance would soon announce a comprehensive programme to address the challenges of the economy.

Also, Government is in discussions with stakeholders in the economy on ways to cut down Government spending, confident that the economy will bounce back to growth by 2015.V4 front 43

Source: The Al-Hajj

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