General News of Saturday, 28 February 2015
New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Sunyani West, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah says President John Mahama was not very honest in his assessment of the state of the nation during his address to Parliament.
He said key fundamentals of the economy were missing in the president’s address to the House on Thursday.
Mr. Baffour-Awuah was speaking on Joy FM and MultiTV’s news analysis programme, Newsfile Saturday.
He said in 2014 when the President came to the House to deliver his second state of the Nation Address, the country’s economy had grown by more than eight percent the previous year (2013).
“A year after, the president is addressing Parliament (in February) at a time the economic growth had dwindled to 4.6 in 2014 and the president failed to mention that. Isn’t that significant”?
“Last year when the president came to Parliament in early 2014, inflation was around 12 percent, he comes a year after and inflation is around 18 percent; interest rate was hovering around 29 per cent when the president came last year and now it is 32 percent; the cedi was exchanged for around 2.1 cedis to the dollar, now it is well over 3.2 cedis to the dollar and if the constitution says the president should report on the health of the economy, I was expecting the president to have mentioned these fundamentals and perhaps addressed us as a nation on how he is going to address these problems going forward,” he explained.
He argued it was problematic that President Johnn Mahama did not make even a cursory reference to these issues in his address except to lay out many more promises.
Agric Minister, Fifi Kwetey, who was also on the show, said the president’s transformational agenda was on course, the challenges notwithstanding.
“Across the world, people face problems,” he said, but insisted that those problems are often turned into opportunities.
He said Ghana has a competitive advantage in terms of the production of rice and sugar and that the initiatives to build sugar factories at Komenda and another in the Northern Regions are precisely what the country needs.
Deputy Communications Minister Felix Kwaye Ofosu, said government had supported pharmaceutical companies with funds to produce critical medicines locally. Other measures, he said, were being put in place to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on imported products.
Senior journalist Kweku Baako, said he was concerned about suggestions by government spokespersons that the economy was buoyant and doing well.
He said it was baffling that despite the debilitating effects of the protracted power crisis, government spokespersons appeared overly optimistic about economic recovery.
“After the damage that the energy deficit has had on the state of the economy, I’m not too optimistic that anytime soon we are going to be able to turn around our economic fortunes; I think we have to be realistic, we have to be very honest and let people know that it will take some more time (to achieve economic stability),” he stressed.
Mr. Baako said “times are rough, factories are closing down, workers are being sent home…so let people know times are going to rougher and tougher before they get better.”