General News of Friday, 9 January 2015
Source: Public Agenda
Assessments of the performance of President John Dramani Mahama’s two years in office by Ghanaians have been mixed while some say he has performed abysmally poor, others believe he has done fairly well.
Indeed, it has been extremely tough for many Ghanaians, especially over the last one year, due to the country’s economic crunch that manifested in ways such as high inflation rate, free fall of the cedi and high interest rate.
Mentioned could also be made of the erratic power supply coupled with the incessant labour unrest in support of demands for better conditions of service; the failure of the President to crack the whip on non-performing ministers, his indecisiveness in ministerial appointments, as well as his inability to retrieve monies owed the State by some individuals and companies who have defrauded the nation, all weighed heavily against his performance.
Many are those who have described his feeble efforts at dealing with corruption as monumental failure. They readily cite instances such as Subah, SADA, GYEEDA and the Brazil World Cup debacle to buttress their claim. Indeed, corruption can be said to have festered immensely under the Mahama administration and the inability of the President to deal with the problem has created a feeling of despair among many Ghanaians.
Over a greater part of last year, majority of Ghanaians, perhaps with the exception of the ruling class, unceasingly complained about their worsening economic conditions. Ironically, in those trying circumstances, the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration did not spare the citizenry the mantra of ‘Better Ghana’.
Public Agenda associates itself with those who see the economy as not in the best of shapes; hence scores the President an overall grade ‘C’, using a scale of A, B, C, D, E and F, with ‘A’ being excellent performance and ‘F’, representing extremely poor.
The complete erosion of gains made in the macro-economic sphere by the previous government remains a huge challenge for the Mahama government.
The paper yet acknowledges some of the positive actions the President took and commends him for that. For instance, the paper rates the President’s effort at closing the country’s infrastructural deficit gap very high, giving him full marks. Examples of the progress made in this regard include the ongoing construction of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange, Awoshie Pokuase Road, the Tetteh Quarshie Inter-change bypass to Spintex, the Eastern Corridor road, expansion of the Ridge and Wa Regional hospitals. One could also cite the rehabilitation of Tamale and Kumasi airports, the beginning of the construction of some of the community Senior High Schools out of the 200 promised, and the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Project.
These notwithstanding, Public Agenda is of the view that the President’s efforts towards infrastructural development was negated by the Government’s failure to continue with the construction of the Nsawam-Suhum–Apedwa stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway. He would have earned massive praise if he had continued with that project.
President Mahama’s forthright admission that the economy was in bad shape in 2014 cannot go without mention. In Ghana, only a few politicians could make such candid statements. The National Economic Forum at Senchi in the Eastern Region spoke volumes of not trying to sweep the problem under the carpet. The Forum brought together the crème de la crème of all spheres of life to find a way out of the economic quagmire the nation found itself at the time.
At the opening of the Forum, President Mahama observed: “Every government that Ghana has had over the course of the last decade has had to confront some of these challenges. This alone implies that they are of a complex origin, that they are structural problems that have taken years, in some cases decades, to manifest. It implies that they will require the sort of solutions that we have gathered here today to create- solutions that have been subjected to the scrutiny of many; solutions that have been shaped by the voices, the hands and the vision of many.”
“As you approach your discussions, I want you to bear in mind that despite these challenges, we have managed to steer the economy to some of its highest growth rates on record. In 2013, growth was a respectable 7.1%. That same year, the growth rate for the world economy was 3.0%; the growth rate for emerging economies was 4.7%; the growth rate for sub-Saharan Africa average was 4.9%, and the growth rate for the advanced economies averagely was 1.3%.
“In the medium to long term, we expect to raise this to an average annual growth rate that is above 8.0%. 2013 growth of 7.1% is impressive against a backdrop of reduced commodity prices for our major exports gold and cocoa and an energy crisis triggered by disruption of gas supplies from the West African Gas Pipeline.”
Public Agenda is gladdened by some of the concrete steps taken by the government in the dying embers of 2014 that started yielding some fruitful results. A classic example was the reversal of Bank of Ghana’s payment of cedis for dollars. It is hoped that the measures would be sustained to their logical end in order to turn the fortunes of the economy, and for that matter Ghanaians around.