President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, National Chief Imam whilst Dr Bawumia looks on
There is a hint of more plans to raise the living standards of Ghanaians than what was contained in the maiden budget statement of the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.
Many are those who have hailed the budget presented to parliament on Thursday by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, which announced the abolishing of several taxes and import duties thought to be needless, while providing some sense of relief for the citizenry, the business community and industry.
At a special Muslim prayer session to usher the country into the 60th independence anniversary celebrations, which begin on Monday, March 6, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said there are more plans in the offing.
Addressing a congregation of Muslims at the central mosque at Abossey Okai in Accra yesterday, he described his boss, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as a man who keeps his words.
That, he said, was evident in the fact that he made provision in the budget for almost all the promises he made to Ghanaians during the 2016 electioneering campaign.
“He set up his vision to build a prosperous and peaceful country where every Ghanaian will be given an equal opportunity to develop themselves, regardless of your tribe, regardless of your religion, and yesterday” (referring to Thursday when the budget was read) “you saw a manifestation after the reading of his maiden budget that he sent to parliament,” Dr Bawumia underscored.
The vice president recalled, “Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo told us during the campaign that ‘Insha Allah,’ when he becomes president of Ghana, he will ensure free senior high school education; there were many who said it was not possible; there were many who doubted him. But yesterday, we saw the presentation of his budget and he has provided the resources in the budget for the beginning of free senior high school education in September.
“Nana Akufo-Addo said he will restore teacher and nursing training allowances; there were many who doubted him, but again yesterday in the budget he provided the resources for the restoration of the teacher and nursing training allowances.”
Dr Bawumia continued, “Nana Akufo-Addo came to Abossey Okai and told the spare parts dealers that when ‘Insha Allah’ he is made president, he will abolish the import duty on spare parts; again there were many people who doubted him; yesterday, he put it in the budget; Insha Allah, he has abolished the import duty on spare parts.”
He again recounted, “Nana Akufo-Addo said we cannot leave the Zongos the way they are as places inhabited by the poor and with very limited infrastructure; we have dedicated funds for Zongo development, so he is going to set up a Zongo Development Fund. Then there were people who said he could not do it or he was just doing politics. Yesterday, in the budget, he provided GH¢219 million for the Zongo Development Fund.” There were chants of ‘Allahu Akbar’ from the gathering.
If for nothing at all, Alhaji Bawumia indicated, “He told the kayayei [head porters], you are suffering, you are being taxed GH¢1 a day by many local authorities. I, Nana Akufo-Addo, when I’m president, I will make sure I abolish this tax.’ Yes, yesterday he abolished the taxes on kayayei and they are free of taxes today,” aside the several other reliefs that were provided in the budget, including the removal of the VAT on financial services and same on real estate sales.
Vice President Bawumia said all the plans announced in the budget will help make the lives of Ghanaians better.
He also gave the assurance that “the government intends to implement more policies that will promote the country’s development.
According to him, “This is just the beginning, there is more to come from President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.”
Dr Bawumia called for the prayers and support of Ghanaians for President Akufo-Addo’s administration, stressing his belief in the president, saying, “The Lord and Allah did not bring us onto this land to be poor and that it is poor leadership that has made us economically poor.”
The Vice President said with Akufo-Addo as president, he was confident Ghana would take its place on the global stage again.
“Allah has blessed us in this 60th year of our independence with Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and for Nana to come and help the black star to shine again,” he noted.
President Akufo-Addo, who also attended the Muslim prayers yesterday, asked Ghanaians to continue to live in peace and harmony.
With the support and prayers of the people, he was more than confident that his government would lead the country to the path of glory.
The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharabutu, and other Muslim leaders offered special prayers for Ghana as a country and the Akufo-Addo-led NPP administration for God’s guidance and protection to salvage the country from its current predicament.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent