General News of Wednesday, 11 March 2015
President John Dramani Mahama last Monday stated that Ghana was moving forward, in spite of the economic and power challenges it was currently experiencing.
He said if for nothing at all, the country had, over the years, witnessed massive socioeconomic improvement and wondered why critics preferred to say the country was moving backwards.
President Mahama, who was interacting with the Ghanaian community in Gaborone, Botswana, as part of his three-day state visit to that country, said Ghana had, since independence, improved in amenity development such as water, health, roads, transport and education and it was, therefore, unfair to tag the country as retrogressive.
He said although health facilities were still inadequate, almost all the old districts could boast hospitals and polyclinics, while plans were underway to step up the construction of more health facilities in the new districts and major towns.
On the economy, he said the government was adopting permanent workable solutions that would bring it firmly on its feet.
He mentioned the intervention by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the improvement in technology in all aspects of financial management and the reduction in the wage bill as some of the strong measures that were underway to stem the high government expenditure.
He explained that while the government was instituting a regime of fiscal discipline by maintaining balanced expenditure, the reduction in the wage bill from 73 per cent to 49 per cent was ample demonstration that the government was determined to reduce expenditure and stabilise the economy.
President Mahama said the government would go to Parliament with a revised budget because of the dramatic fall in the price of oil on the international market.
“The recent fall in oil prices means that we are going to suffer a revenue shortfall of nearly $700 million into the budget. It is therefore necessary for us to adjust the budget that we presented at the end of last year.
“Once that has been done and we have the IMF programme in place, it means that for three years we will be on a programme of adjustment. The injection we are looking at is about $940million, but in addition it will also help unlock monies that have been withheld by the donors, which we estimate should amount to about $500 million,“ the President said.
Concerning cooperation between Ghana and Botswana, President Mahama said apart from signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on political consultations, Ghana would also learn a lot from Botswana in the area of livestock rearing that the latter had comparative advantage.
He said Ghana was also ready to collaborate with the southern African country in mining, since Botswana had a rich experience in diamond mining and processing.
Ghana’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Haruna Attah, urged Ghanaians to be disciplined in the discharge of their democratic rights and freedoms.
“You can disagree with somebody, but do not resort to insults and violence in the media. …we also need to help the government of the day to succeed by avoiding negativity,” he said.
The Honorary Consul of Ghana to Botswana, Mr Solomon Opare Kumi, called for the establishment of biometric centres in Botswana to reduce the burden on Ghanaians living in Botswana from travelling to Ghana to acquire new passports.
The programme was attended by over 500 Ghanaians in Gaborone and beyond.