General News of Saturday, 24 January 2015
Source: Daily Guide
New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer for the 2016 general elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has said an NPP government that he would lead would avoid reckless borrowing.
He said in London yesterday that if elected, his government would do well to move away from the high fiscal deficits and reckless borrowing that had characterized the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
Trades and Industry Minister, Ekow Spio-Gabrah, on Wednesday noted that reckless borrowing by the government had pushed Ghana to seek financial bailout from the International Monitory Fund (IMF). “One of the challenges we’ve had as a country and one of the reasons why we are in discussions with the IMF is that for many years, we just chose to borrow and borrow just because there are many banks in the world which were ready to give you loans if you are credit worthy,” Spio told a conference in Accra.
The current NDC administration had pushed Ghana’s debt to about GH¢69.9 billion as at September 2014 – from GH¢9.5 billion in 2009, an increase of over 600%.
Nana Akufo-Addo was addressing one of Britain’s leading think-tanks – the Royal Institute of International Affairs – at Chatham House during a roundtable discussion on the theme, “Developing Ghana – Policies for Prosperity.”
Nana Addo, Ghana’s former Attorney-General and later Foreign Minister, was one of the few experienced African politicians who were invited to discuss democracy and governance as part of the UK’s 750th anniversary of first Westminster Parliament and 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta.
Nana Akufo-Addo said his government would ensure fiscal discipline and macroeconomic stability, strive to curb inflation and bring down interest rates.
Additionally, an NPP government, he said, would introduce a ‘deliberate’ policy measure to achieve financial inclusion by moving the majority of citizens from cash to electronic payments for transactions.
“We need a national database that identifies every citizen with an address,” the experienced politician said.
Nana Addo further said an NPP government would assist in what he termed the “formalization of the economy,” spread the tax burden and use up-to-date statistics for planning as well as increase savings in the financial system in a dramatic fashion.
He said he strongly believed Ghanaians were reposing their trust in him to lead them into prosperity as president.
“My own sense is that the Ghanaian people have come to trust me. Contrary to the propaganda, they know that I will not put my ambition and selfish interest before the well-being of the country,” he said.
“They (Ghanaians) know I have been sincere and consistent with what I believe we must do to bring about prosperity for everyone,” he said in response to a question by Dr. Alex Vines OBE, Head of the Africa Programme at the think-tank.
Explaining why he believed Ghanaians had reposed trust in him, Nana Akufo-Addo said, “When I go around the country, I sense this and it is like, after all let us give him a chance for him to show what he can do.”
He said that Ghanaians now have a clearer scale to measure the eight years of NDC administration against the NPP’s and was optimistic the people were becoming convinced that “we in the NPP can be trusted to better manage the economy and create the opportunities for prosperity.”
He reassured the invited gathering – composed of high-level business executives, diplomats and policy analysts – that his vision of ensuring “education for all” school-going children was going to be vigorously pursued when elected, saying “the value of having an educated population is more than the cost.”
The NPP flag-bearer said his administration would pay what he called ‘critical attention’ to technical education “in this critical phase of our development” with a “major emphasis on science and technology, which will feature heavily.”
He also lamented the current “governance arrangement” in Ghana where parliament, he observed, is seemingly subservient to the executive, calling for a greater oversight control over the executive in the use of public funds.
He said it was the duty of everyone in the position of authority to seek to help “raise rapidly the quality of life of the mass of our people.”
He also said there was a national consensus to enhance the integrity of the electoral system for 2016 and beyond and said the party he is leading would do its part to get a better and fairer election process.