President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says though the Ghanaian economy is in “a difficult place”, the government is taking requisite measures to put the country back on the path of growth and development.
“The road to recovery will be hard and long, but we have started on a good footing by accepting that we are in a difficult place and are taking the difficult decisions that will get us out,” he said when he delivered his address on the State of the Nation to Parliament on Wednesday.
The President told Parliament that the present economic downturn occasioned by the devastation of the COVID-19 was not limited to Ghana but had worsened the economic outlook of economies around the world.
Before the pandemic, he noted, Ghana’s economic performance between 2017 and the beginning of 2020 demonstrated that the country was making rapid progress.
“Indeed, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, we recorded average annual GDP growth rates of 7%, making us one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We grew the economy from the cedi equivalent of fifty-four billion United States dollars ($54 billion) at the end of 2016 to the cedi equivalent of seventy-two billion dollars ($72 billion) in 2020, a thirty-three percent (33%) increase.”
President Akufo-Addo stated that the pandemic was not something that anyone could have planned for, and as a result, many a country, including Ghana, had been knocked off their planned trajectory, accruing huge deficits that have underwritten social cohesion.
The situation, he noted had been further aggravated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has worsened the economic outlook of the entire world.
“We, in Ghana, have not escaped this development, and the consequences are being felt in rising living costs at our markets and at fuel stations.
The Government, President Akufo-Addo reiterated, “remained alive to its responsibilities to the Ghanaian people.”
“The difficulties of the time notwithstanding, we intend to continue to grow this economy and bring prosperity. That will only happen when we continue to invest in the future.”
The Presidents presentation touched on the different sectors of the economy, including education, health, tourism, agriculture, and energy, among others.
He highlighted the gains made in those sectors of the economy, which he said were all geared towards making Ghana’s economy resilient.
The President said the path to recovery demanded hard work, ingenuity, self-reliance, enterprise, and solidarity on the part of Ghanaians to enable the country to surmount the economic devastation of the COVID-19.
He mentioned the measures recently announced by the Finance Minister to address the fiscal challenges to reflect current developments as some of the initiatives.
Those measures include spending cuts, reduction in discretionary expenditure by 10 percent, in addition to a 20 percent earlier announced in January, efficient use of energy, a 30 percent cut in emoluments of government appointees, a moratorium on the purchase of cross-country vehicles for government use, and the curtailing of foreign travels for government officials.
The measures also include the elimination of ghost workers from government pay roll by December 2022, the renegotiation of energy sector capacity charges to save projected GH¢1.5 billion, a moratorium on the establishment of new public sector institutions, the prioritization of ongoing projects over new one to enhance efficient use of public funds and the reduction of expenditure on all government meetings and conferences by 50 percent.
President Akufo-Addo said those measures were meant to demonstrate that the Government was aware of the difficult times, “and we are addressing the situation.”
“This government remains alive to its responsibilities to the Ghanaian people. The difficulties of the time notwithstanding, we intend to continue to grow this economy and bring prosperity… That will only happen when we continue to invest in the future.
“I know that there is a general sense of anxiety in our nation at the moment. The Ghanaian people are anxious about the economy, the cost of living, income levels, jobs for young people, and even about issues on which we all thought we had achieved a national consensus.
“Let us, more than ever, hold our heads up high, and face the future with courage, hope and assurance. Let us recall our age-old Ghanaian values of hard work, enterprise, solidarity, dignity and hospitality. Look around you, believe in Ghana, and be inspired by Ghana,” he said.