General News of Tuesday, 21 February 2017
After leading several onslaughts on the erstwhile John Mahama government over what was then described as its draconian policies, President Akufo-Addo has vowed to continue with the implementation of tough policies necessary for the long term interest of Ghanaians.
Perhaps, drawing inspiration from former President Mahama’s resolute stands on some unpopular decisions his government took to keep the country’s economy on track, President Akufo-Addo said, his government “will not shy away from making critical choices necessary for the long-term interest of Ghanaians”.
The President vowed to invest heavily in building up the most important ingredients of developing the intellectual property of the people and educating the nation, which he said is the sure key to success.
“We want to add value to our human capital, add value to our governance, add value to our public services, add value to our infrastructure and add value to our economy,” President Akufo Addo told members of the Diplomatic Corp in Ghana last week.
Mr. Akufo-Addo, while as leader of the then opposition NPP, led members of his party to berate the Mahama administration for visiting untold hardship on Ghanaians over some of its policies that were deemed harsh.
Principal among some of the much criticized polices of the Mahama administration included the introduction of new taxes, increases in existing ones, removal of subsidies leading to hikes in petroleum products and utility tariffs and the three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) deal with the IMF which led to halt in employment in the public sector among others.
Responding to questions on his government’s roundly criticized tough policies; former President Mahama said “it is not every decision that would be popular, but what was I elected for…If I took popular decisions to make you happy with me this country would be in the ground.”
Stating that he was not afraid to lose elections because some of his administration’s policies were deemed harsh, Mr Mahama said; his government implemented those policies against the wishes of some Ghanaians to ensure Ghanaians have better lives in the future.
According to the then president; projects his government was undertaking, namely; road projects, health facilities expansion, bolstering of education enrolment at both the basic and secondary levels as well as the expansion of access to water from 58% to 78%, constituted the things that grew the Ghanaian economy.
“Honestly, if you do not build the infrastructure, unemployment will get worse because you need to build a certain foundation upon which the economy can grow and create the jobs that you want,” he stated.
Though the NPP was opposed to almost all policies implemented by the Mahama government, President Akufo-Addo and his men are now beating fast retreat from its promises of ‘tax cut’ and other pro-poor interventions after capturing power in the December 7, 2016 elections.
Already, the Akufo Addo led-government has hinted of extending Ghana’s program with the IMF even though the party promised to cut ties with the Bretton Wood institution when elected into government.
Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, who was one of the main opponents of the deal with the IMF while in opposition, said the request for extension of the IMF program was raised by the Government Economic Team during deliberations.
“IMF on its own cannot do that [extension of the programme], that must be negotiated with Ghana. They have discussed it but nothing has been signed yet,” he said.
The Akufo-Addo government is also struggling to identify sustainable source of funding for its flagship policy, Free SHS, which it says will start in September this year.
Though the NPP government promised tax cuts and in some instances; scrapping some of the taxes described as “nuisance tax”, ISODEC is urging government to follow after Uganda’s model which “relied heavily on taxation” to make its free Senior High School education happen.
Government has also backtracked on its decision to scrap the Energy Sector Levy introduced by the Mahama government. In a recent interview, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, said the Energy Sector Levy will not be scrapped as promised.
“On the banking industry, we have just gone through a period in which the Ministry did not have a clear bird’s eye view of what the SOEs were doing…We need to be engaged in any of these commitments that these SOEs have or sign…So, the banking industry we have ESLA [Energy Sector Levies Act] etc. I think those will gradually move to extinguish those debts,” the Minister said.
Whiles concerns are being raised over how government is fast backtracking on some of its key campaign promises less than two months in office, President Akufo-Addo said his government will be honest with the people of Ghana even if it has to take tough decisions to get the country moving.
“We will govern honestly. We are determined to get Ghana once again to lead our continent on two fronts…” he noted.