President John Dramani Mahama who has been truthful about the country’s state of affairs yesterday shocked many people when he rolled out certain achievements his government has made but has been silent on it.
According to the President, who was speaking at yesterday’s May Day Celebrations, signs of progress are around all Ghanaians.
The Workers Day was celebrated on the theme: “Ghana’s Economy : A Concern For All.”
Quoting from his inaugural address, he said: “Change does not happen overnight and sometimes, despite whatever progress has been placed in motion, it will appear to be darkest before the dawn of the new day makes that progress visible. In such times I will be counting on you to maintain the faith and trust that you have placed in me as President. I will not let you down.
President Mahama, for the first time, said that Ghana’s maternal mortality rate is high, but the fact of the matter is that it is steadily decreasing, adding “this is one area in which we are making great progress.”
“There has been a drop in institutional neonatal mortality from 5.8 per 1000 live births in 2012 to 2.3 per 1000 today,” he said.
He said that every government in this country has faced the challenge of ensuring that all children receive access to education.
According to him education is one of this government’s top priorities and that though the number of overall out-of-school children is still high, the fact of the matter is that it, too, is steadily decreasing.
“Because of the Complementary Basic Education Programme that this government introduced, the teaching and learning of 25,000 out-of-schooling children has been facilitated,” he disclosed.
President Mahama once again conceded that there are major challenges confronting the economy.
He, however, maintained government’s measures at stabilizing the economy are yielding positive dividends.
“This year is a turn-around year for Ghana and I am positive that the Ghanaian economy will show strong signs of the ‘home-grown strategies being implemented to revive the economy are harsh.
“I assure you my countrymen and women, that these measures are achieving the desired effect and the economy is gradually responding,” he said.
He noted: “As Social Democrats, we believe that we cannot completely rule out the role of the market any more than we can rule out the role of the state. The two must work together, and the best way to do that is to have laws and policies to ensure that markets work for people, not against them.”
President Mahama said that government is in the process of introducing laws on consumer protection and on competition, as one of several initiatives to ensure a harmonious relationship between the market and the state in the cause of national development.
On the Economic Partnership Agreement, he said: “Government is taking all views and concerns of all stakeholders, including labour, consumers and exporters into consideration. Those views and considerations will absolutely inform any decision that we eventually take, which I assure you will be in the best interest of Ghana.
“I want to impress upon you that decisions such as these are never taken lightly. I want, also, to explore in greater detail that phrase, “the best interest of Ghana,” he said.
President Mahama said that the deadlock that is currently being experienced with labour is a reflection of how critical wage pressures have become in respect of turning around the deficit in our budget.
“Another wage overrun as we experienced last year will make it difficult for us to meet our deficit target and bring the macro-economy back on track. It will fuel inflation and push interest rates higher,” he said.
The President said that the situation would create an adverse environment for the growth of businesses and would lead to the creation of fewer jobs to absorb the growing numbers of graduating youth.
“It would place increased pressure on our already over-pressured resources needed for investment in health, education, agriculture, housing and Government’ other important obligations to the citizens of our country.”
He said” “As a social democrat, I have the utmost respect for the right of our gallant workers to negotiate a living wage. But I have an obligation, too, to the rest of our population to ensure that the economy of this country is protected.
“I have an obligation to ensure that there are enough resources left over to ensure that the other 24.4 million Ghanaian who are not public sector workers have access to quality healthcare, education, clean drinking water, adequate sanitation power, and the numerous other commitments the state is obliged to provide, specially if we are to continue making positive changes in the indicators that reflect our progress and development,” he added.
President Mahama said that there was the need to work together to ensure that the situation where nearly two-thirds of tax revenue are spent on wages and compensations to the expense of goods and services and capital investments is reversed.
“We must work together to ensure that we find a solution that would be in the best interest of Ghana, one that would honour our workers and also safeguard the sustainable development of our nation,” he said.
He expressed the hope that when today’s negotiations resume, all the tripartite partners – organized labour, employers, and government – would return to the table and negotiate in good faith to determine a new minimum wage and a new public sector base pay adjustment that is based on good faith and at the same time mindful of our common national interest.
“While we negotiate for pay adjustment, we must also pay attention to the very low public sector productivity index. A good living wage has an inextricable link to our level of productivity. We hope this year to be able to work with organized labour to put in place the instruments and systems to enhance labour productivity in Ghana,” he said.