Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia addressing the gathering yesterday
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia yesterday said the policies put in place by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government have started yielding dividends and announced that the Akufo-Addo administration has chalked 103 achievements in just 100 days.
“Just as we promised ‘One Village One Dam,’ we have one day one achievement,” he said humorously when he presented the state of the nation under the NPP government after 100 days in office.
The programme, put together by Multimedia Group – operators of Joy FM among other media outlets – was titled: “President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo 100 Days of Change. Time with the Vice,” and was held at the Auditorium of the Law Court Complex in Accra.
It was only the Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid and his deputy, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah as well as National Service Scheme Board (NSS) Executive Director, Mustapha Yussif, who were the government appointees at the programme.
However, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah explained later that it was a Multimedia programme and he was not sure whether invitations were extended to other government appointees.
He said there was no 100-day target in the NPP promises and so the government could not have organized the programme. “It was entirely Joy Fm’s event,” Kojo said.
Vice President Bawumia, even though acknowledged that the government had made some significant progress since taking over from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the NPP never promised to fulfill its campaign promises within 100 days.
“We did not make promises for 100 days but we can point to some significant achievements,” he said, adding that that had been done despite inheriting a “difficult economic situation.”
The Big Deal
The vice president, a renowned economist, revealed what he called the deal of the year – a 15-year $2.25bn bond which is cedi denominated that will not increase the huge public debt stock.
Dr Bawumia explained that what the NPP is doing in order to create space from the huge debt overhang of over GH¢122 billion is, replacing more expensive debt with less expensive one and short term debt with long term.
“It is a matter of strategy,” he said with some pride in view of his team’s ingenuity.
Dr. Bawumia started his lecture by reviewing the state of the economy bequeathed the NPP by the NDC, indicating among others that real GDP with oil was down 3.6% in 2016 from 9.1% in 2008, declining growth in agriculture and industry, rising unemployment, high fiscal deficits as well as rising public debts.
He also mentioned accumulation of arrears on government obligations, weakening of the banking system, dumsor (erratic power supply) cancellation of teacher and nursing training allowances, depreciation of the exchange rate, return to cash-and-carry under NHIS, freeze on the hiring of Extension Officers in agric, high and pervasive taxes, high electricity tariffs, corruption and IMF bailout.
Dr Bawumia said to restore fiscal discipline and macro-economic stability, the NPP government is re-profiling Ghana’s public debt: $2.25 billion of cedi sovereign bonds, up to a 15-year tenor, at 19.75%, and had brought what he called “massive boost to our gross international reserves from $6 billion to $8 billion.”
He said the government had reduced inflation rate from 15.4% to 12.8%, allocated the cedi equivalent of $1 million (GHs 4.1 million) to each constituency for economic development and poverty reduction and also restored confidence in the macro-economy by anchoring fiscal policy on the pillars of credibility, clarity and transparency
He claimed, “The 2017 Budget returned Ghana on to the path of fiscal consolidation with a budget deficit target of 6.5% of GDP,” adding, “We have replaced the 17.5 VAT/NHIL rate with a flat rate of 3% for traders.”
According to the veep, the government had granted Capital Gains Tax Exemption on stocks traded on the Ghana Stock Exchange or publicly held securities approved by the SEC and added that they had created fiscal space by capping of earmarked funds to 25% of government revenue and realigning expenditures to government priorities.
Dr Bawumia said the government had completed first draft of the Coordinated Programme of the Economic and Social Development Policies (CPESDP) in record time of three months, although the Constitution required the documents to be ready within the first two years after taking office.
He said Ghana and the Ivory Coast had agreed to collaborate to tackle “the volatility of cocoa prices,” and that 1,200 agricultural extension officers had been hired and trained nationwide to support the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme, adding that fertilizer prices had been reduced by 50% and that 300,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers had been imported. “This is higher than any annual import since 2007,” he observed.
He said the government had cancelled about 20 Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) entered into by the past government and added that the current administration had ‘capped’ electricity power purchases at 10 cents per KwH saying, “$300 million has been saved by reviewing and prioritizing Power Purchase Agreements.”
He continued, “We have established a policy to separate VRA’s thermal operations from hydro, established a policy to move all major government buildings, schools, hospitals, military, and police to solar energy.”
He also said there is currently uninterrupted production of oil and gas in the Jubilee Field due to a temporary mooring solution and added that a long term permanent solution was being discussed. “This solution has saved the government $5 million per month,” he disclosed.
The vice president said the government had secured financing for two major rural electrification projects (Hunan and China Water) and when implemented, would extend electricity to over 800 communities.
He said there would be transparent allocation of petroleum blocks, maintaining that a team of experts had been constituted to work with the Petroleum Commission to develop regulations for the transparent allocation of petroleum blocks as provided under Act 919.
Dr Bawumia said the government was working hard to stabilize the cedi saying, “When we came in, the cedi was running but essentially, we have arrested it and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), David Apeatu, has the keys,” he said with a lot of humour, adding, “He has locked it up!”
He reiterated that the setting up of an office for the Special Prosecutor to deal with corruption was being done and that President Akufo-Addo completed the appointment of ministers within six weeks, revealing that all ministers had declared their assets, established a functional Delivery Unit at the presidency, a functional Economic Management Team who he said had been meeting weekly; and the government had also established a policy not to buy new cars for government machinery.
Dr. Bawumia further said that President Akufo-Addo was not going to countenance impunity resulting from indiscipline, stressing that the government was going to make the law work, irrespective of political affiliation.
“President Akufo-Addo has been forthright in this Delta Force issue. You will not see him release someone from jail just because that person is NPP. You are not going to see ministers lining up to sign a petition for the release of party members from jail,” he pointed out.
The vice president said the government had awarded a contract for the capacity building of 1,400 teachers/education leaders in ICT to be undertaken by the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT. The contract had been awarded for Information Management System for the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, awarded a contract for Case Management System for the Judicial Service of Ghana; a software is being installed and also awarded another for E-Procurement system for use by the Public Procurement Authority – and all were done through competitive bidding.
He said the government had allocated GH¢400 million for the commencement of the free SHS for first-year students in September 2017, completed a draft bill for the National Research Fund and allocated GH¢43.9 million for the establishment of a National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan.
Dr Bawumia said the government had renewed its focus on railway development by allocating GH¢518 million to the sector, saying, “Ghana Railway Company is now generating enough revenue to pay their salaries.”
He claimed that approval had been given to employ 11,000 health trainees who graduated between 2012 and 2016, dissolved the Health Training Institute Secretariat and secured financial clearance to employ 181 doctors who completed their housemanship seven months ago.
He said that terms of reference had been completed to enable selection of auditors on competitive basis to undertake forensic audit of the January 2016 Central Medical Stores fire outbreak.
According to him, the government had increased the proportion of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund (DACF) that goes directly to assemblies from 33% to 50% as a result of fewer deductions from the centre and allocated GH¢219 million for the Zongo Development Fund before proposing to the assemblies to use part of the annual $1 million for the purchase of ambulances.
Dr. Bawumia also said the government had spread the allocation of premix fuel to more oil marketing companies (OMCs) saying, “Previously, only two OMCs were allowed to sell premix. As part of government’s efforts to ensure transparency and stamp out corruption, we have increased the number to nine.”
He said they were working to bring reforms to the mining sector where illegal mining, popularly called galamsey, had taken the centre stage of late.
On the controversial vice presidents’ residence started by Mahama’s NDC government, he said, “$14 million for a residence on a land that is free is ridiculous. It is not like a big plot of land, so I thought it was quite unusual, especially after seeing the plan of the structure.”
He also promised that the government was not going to lay off workers as contained in the IMF bailout programme.
He asserted that the government was looking at making Ghana’s economy transformed and depend on its own resources instead of aids pointing out, “From what I have seen from President Akufo-Addo, Ghana is in good hands.”
By William Yaw Owusu