Business News of Wednesday, 19 July 2017
After six months in office, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday gave account of his stewardship, saying a number of critical interventions instituted by the government had succeeded in helping the economy recover from the mess in which it was when his government took over.
The President subjected himself to intense media scrutiny at a media engagement at the Flagstaff House in Accra and answered questions bordering on security, corruption, the economy, agriculture, energy, power supply, the controversial issue of the sale of contaminated fuel by the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) Company Limited.
Describing the economy he inherited as one in “desperation”, he said: “Our desperate economic situation meant that we had to take some unorthodox but brave measures.”
He said there was no chance that the government, voted into office with a mandate for change, would dare do things in the business-as-usual manner.
The President said the Asempa Budget that the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, presented in March this year had set the tone for new ways of doing things that would transform the economy.
Delivering on campaign promises
That budget, he said, also provided the opportunity to deliver on some of the promises made during the electioneering.
Listing some of the measures instituted by the government, he said nursing and teacher training allowances had been restored to take effect at the start of the new school year, nuisance taxes had been abolished, while other measures had been taken to shift the focus of the economy from taxation to production. “The macroeconomic indices are beginning to show a turn for the better. The monetary policy rate (MPR) of the Bank of Ghana has been cut from 25.5 per cent to 22.5 per cent in the first half of the year. Inflation has gone down from 15.4 per cent in December 2016 to 12.1 per cent in June 2017, that is, a period of six months, the lowest in four years,” he said.
He said the benchmark 91-day Treasury Bill (T-bill) rate which was 22.8 per cent in January last year had been narrowed to 11.9 per cent in June 2017, the lowest in five years.
The government, he said, was encouraged by the gradual decline in the cost of borrowing and the increase in banks’ credit to the private sector by nearly six per cent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to a decline of about seven per cent in the same period in 2016.
“But we have to continue to work to bring down the cost of borrowing to enable businesses to have access to much needed credit. It is my hope and expectation that these statistics will soon translate into tangible benefits in the lives of Ghanaians,” he added.
In addition, he said, a number of interim innovative packages to help particularly new entrepreneurs had been introduced.