General News of Saturday, 24 January 2015
Source: The Chronicle
The 2016 Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has outlined policies, he says, will deliver prosperity on a sustainable basis for the people of Ghana.
“For Ghana to build a strong foundation that can rapidly transform the economy in a sustainable way, it requires a leadership that can manage the economy with discipline, vision and innovation”, he stated. He was speaking on the theme: “Developing Ghana – Policies for Prosperity”, at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a British think tank in London on Wednesday.
It was a 90 minute interaction with an invited gathering, composed of representatives of multinationals, diplomats and policy analysts, on how his government will manage the economy. Nana Akufo-Addo described the NPP as the political party that understands business because the party is fully aware of the relationship between a vibrant economy and the capacity of the state to deliver opportunities and prosperity to the masses.
“Building a future of opportunities and prosperity will be hinged on a policy of ‘education for all’, 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,” he noted. He said his vision for economic transformation will focus on two main areas: a vigorous expansion of agribusiness and manufacturing.
“We have to modernise our agriculture and process our agricultural products. Both commercial and small-scale farmers will be supported to improve their output and develop their business,” he noted. He pointed out that there are huge benefits in improving the rural economy with direct benefits to the majority of the population in terms of incomes, lower food prices and jobs.
Agribusiness, from farming through processing, warehousing and exports, will be critical to the transformation agenda. He said, when he looks ahead, in the next 15 years, West Africa is estimated to have an economy with 500 million people. He wants Ghana to position itself in a way that it can help deepen the process of integration and serve such a huge common market.
Nana Akufo-Addo told the gathering, “we cannot transform the economy and the country without transforming the knowledge and skills of our people”, stating that education, especially technical education would be a major priority of an Akufo-Addo government.
He reiterated that every child, rich or poor, able-bodied or disabled, deserves a good education, stressing that “the benefits of an educated population far outweigh the cost of getting it done.” Still on the Ghanaian economy, Nana Akufo-Addo was asked what would be the number one priority of his government. He responded without hesitation that his first priority would be to ensure fiscal discipline and macroeconomic stability. This received all-round nods from the audience.
On the energy crisis, he said investors (independent power producers) were ready to come to Ghana but crucial to their coming was that the projects of interest were bankable. That they would be paid and their investments would not be disturbed by macro-economic instability. Such assurance is difficult to give in an environment of currency depreciation, high interest rates, high inflation, high budget deficit, and reckless borrowing, which have characterised the six years of the NDC administration.
Furthermore, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that his government would move away from a focus on taxation to financing fiscal deficits 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.
Once stabilisation has been achieved, a focus on growing and transforming the economy from a raw material one to a value-added kind would be aggressively pursued, he stressed. He said Ghana cannot continue with business as usual. His government would deliberately push for a payment system that achieves financial inclusion by moving the majority of citizens from cash to electronic payments (debit cards) for transactions.
He saw this as important to growing the banking sector, enlarging the formal sector and shrinking the informal way of doing business in 21st century Ghana. To achieve the formalisation process of the economy requires an efficient and reliable national database system. The NPP will bring to an end the perplexing delay in introducing a national identification system and a national housing address system, Nana Akufo-Addo assured.
On the provision of basic infrastructure, Nana Akufo-Addo told the gathering that Ghana, today, is spending less on infrastructure (5% of GDP) than before it discovered oil, 7% 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 revenues, on infrastructure and more on recurrent expenditure.
“94% 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,” Nana Akufo-Addo stressed. To investors, he said his attitude is for a win-win situation and his government would promote join 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.