Ghana: State of the Nation address dominates Ghana media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Last Tuesday’s maiden State of the Nation address by President Nana Akufo-Addo to parliament dominated the Ghanaian media this week with officials of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) respectively hailing and criticising it.

The Graphic, in a story with the headline, “I’ll not complain but fix challenges of economy - Prez Akufo-Addo”, reported that the president used his address to give the clearest indication yet about how he intended to deal with the challenges facing the economy when he declared: “l will not complain but fix the challenges.”

The newspaper said after giving an account of the state of the economy, which, he said, was in a bad way, the President said he was not elected by the overwhelming majority of the people to complain.

Rather, he said, he was elected to get things done, adding: “l was elected to fix what is broken and my government and l are determined to do just that.”

Cataloguing some of the policy options under the sleeve of his government to fix the key challenges of the economy, President Akufo-Addo said the starting point to turn around the fortunes of the country was agriculture, which would focus on a national campaign dubbed: “Planting for food and jobs.”

The President said along with agriculture, the government intended to address the biggest challenge of unemployment, adding that his government would embark on one of the most comprehensive programmes for industrial transformation ever to be introduced in the country.

The key elements of that programme, he said, were the restoration and maintenance of a stable macro-economy, monetary and fiscal measures that would lead to a reduction in interest rates and a reduction in the tax burden on enterprises, the provision of reliable, affordable power for enterprises and homes, as well as the setting up of a stimulus package to support existing Ghanaian industries and improve their competitiveness.

Others include the implementation of the initiative to establish at least one industrial enterprise in each of the 216 districts under the government’s "One-district, one-factory" policy through public-private partnerships, the development of strategic anchor initiatives as new pillars of growth for the Ghanaian economy, including the establishment of petrochemical industries.

Others are an iron and steel industry, an integrated aluminium industry, the expansion of the domestic production of pharmaceuticals, the establishment of a vehicle assembly and automotive industry, the production of industrial salt, the establishment of garment and textile enterprises and the manufacture of machinery, equipment and component parts.

The Graphic reported that the Minority in Parliament accused President Akufo-Addo of presenting a selective message on the true state of the nation and creating an atmosphere of hopelessness.

It said in separate interviews after the address, some Minority Members of Parliament (MPs) said the President decided to focus on the negatives of the past government that satisfied his purpose and failed to recognise the positives in order to deceive Ghanaians that he had inherited a mess, when in fact it was not the case.

They said the President failed to explain how he was going to source funding for his free senior high school (SHS) policy, measures to grow the economy and create jobs.

But the Majority MPs dismissed the suggestion that the President's message was selective or deceitful, saying he presented the facts as they were.

They said the President did not manufacture the statistics and that they were produced by the relevant state institutions,

Former Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur described the address as one that contained nothing, but a list of problems. He said the President had a lot to learn, if he was to achieve anything.

“It was a statement of the problems that the country faced, I’m not sure whether he told us how he was going to solve them because he stated many problems and I don’t get the sense of the direction he wants to go.”

Commenting on the address, the National Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Mr Bernard Mornah, said the President was on point when he condemned the post-election violence by supporters of his ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

“The President did a good delivery today. His presentation was apt. I have difficulties with some aspects of his delivery, but in all, I think that the presentation was good,” he said.

Mr Mornah described the President’s announcement to list the state-owned power companies - Volta River Authority (VRA) and Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCO) - on the stock exchange as an attempt to sell those institutions.

“I am flabbergasted. The President is selling the VRA, ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana) and Gridco; and when you sell to the private sector, the private sector has one motive – profit.

“So don’t be surprised that you will have electricity but you cannot pay,” he said, stressing that there was the issue of social responsibility on the part of the government to the people of Ghana.

He said the people of Ghana knew that they deserved the right to better living, “and so if you sell the VRA, their ability to provide for the social cover is non-existent because the private person will not allow you to come and dictate their price for them”.
-0- PANA MA 25Feb2017

25 february 2017 07:22:16

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