General News of Friday, 23 January 2015
Source: Graphic Online
The presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for Election 2016, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says what Ghana needs to turn around its economic fortunes is a leadership that can manage the economy with discipline, vision and innovation.
That leadership, he said, was what the NPP would offer Ghanaians, since it understood business and was fully aware of the relationship between a vibrant economy and the capacity of the state to deliver opportunities and prosperity to the masses.
The NPP flag bearer made the observation in the United Kingdom at a roundtable organised by Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, an independent British policy think tank.
Speaking at the event, Nana Akufo-Addo presented his view on Ghana’s trajectory and the policy environment and also discussed the NPP’s vision for the country.
He said to bring about prosperity, Ghana needed a leadership of conviction committed to fighting corruption and dedicated to the welfare and well-being of Ghanaians.
Delivering his paper on the theme, “Developing Ghana — Policies for Prosperity”, Nana Akufo-Addo said building a future of opportunities and prosperity for the country would be hinged on a policy of “education for all”.
He said his administration would be anchored on providing basic infrastructure on the principle of value for money, fighting corruption and strengthening the democratic accountability tools of the institutions of state, particularly at the local level.
With Ghana’s agricultural sector on the decline in the last five years and an economy challenged with deficits, an increasing rate and an unstable currency, he said his vision for economic transformation would focus on two main areas — a vigorous expansion of agribusiness and manufacturing.
“We have to modernise our agriculture and process our agricultural produce. Both commercial and small-scale farmers will be supported to improve their output and develop their business,” he pledged.
He pointed out that there were huge benefits in improving the rural economy, with direct benefits to the majority of the population in terms of income, lower food prices and jobs.
He said agri-business, from farming through processing, warehousing and exports, would be critical to the transformation agenda.
On regional integration, Nana Akufo-Addo, who served as Foreign Minister in the Kufuor regime, said when he looked ahead, in the next 15 years West Africa would have an economy with an estimated 500 million people.
He told the gathering of diplomats, corporate leaders, people from academia and politicians: “We cannot transform the economy and the country without transforming the knowledge and skills of our people.”
In that respect, he said, education, especially technical education, would be a major priority of an Akufo-Addo-led government.
On the provision of basic infrastructure, Nana Akufo-Addo told the gathering that Ghana today was spending less on infrastructure.
He observed that the country was currently spending five per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on infrastructure, less than what it spent before it discovered oil — seven per cent of GDP in 2008 in the last year of the Kufuor era.
“Thus, contrary to expectations and government rhetoric, Ghana is spending a smaller proportion of its income, including oil revenue, on infrastructure and more on recurrent expenditure.
“Ninety-four per cent of the increase in government expenditure over the last six years has been on recurrent expenditure. It is critical to increase investment expenditure if we are to grow the economy,” he stressed.
To investors, he said his attitude was for a win-win situation and pledged that his government would promote joint ventures between Ghanaians and foreign investors.
“Foreign investments are extremely welcome in all areas of the economy, but our approach is to ensure that we grow the capacity of Ghanaian businesses to compete,” he said.
Commenting on the energy situation in the country, he said investors (independent power producers) were ready to come to Ghana, but crucial to their coming was knowing that the projects of interest were bankable, that they would be paid, while at the same time their investment would not be disturbed by macroeconomic instability.
According to him, such assurance was difficult to give in an environment of currency depreciation, high interest rates, high inflation, high budget deficit and reckless borrowing which had characterised the six years of the National Democratic Congress administration.
Furthermore, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that his government would move away from a focus on taxation to finance fiscal deficit to a focus on production.
“This means providing incentives, including tax incentives, to enhance production, reducing the cost of doing business and spreading the tax burden wider, but thinner,” he said.