Francis Ameyibor, GNA
Accra, March 6, GNA – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday said after a year of fiscal discipline and innovative economic management, the results have been remarkable.
“Ghana’s economy has grown from 3.6 per cent in 2016, the lowest in 22 years, to 7.9 per cent in 2017, and this year it’s expected to grow at 8.3 per cent, which would make it the fastest growing economy in the world.
“Inflation has gone down from 15.6 per cent at the end of 2016 to 10.3 per cent, as of January this year. Ghanaian industry has witnessed a spectacular revival from a growth rate of negative 0.5 per cent in 2016 to 17.7 per cent in 2017.
“Interest rates are on the decline, the cedi is stabilising, and the fiscal deficit has gone down from 9.3 per cent in 2016 to 5.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product in 2017, with a projection of 4.5 per cent for 2018,” President Akufo-Addo stated at the 61st Independence Day commemoration in Accra.
President Akufo-Addo said the fiscal discipline in Ghanaian economy has been restored, and fiscal consolidation has taken hold. “For the first time since 2006, government has been able to meet its fiscal deficit target.
“We will continue to manage the economy in a disciplined and sound framework so that we maintain fiscal and debt sustainability. This, in the end is fundamental to moving Beyond Aid.
“An improving, disciplined macro-economy is essential for expanding the economy, and, thereby, creating jobs. This year, we will see vigorous job creation in the public sector, beginning with the recruitment of one hundred thousand (100,000) young men and women in the Nation Builders Corp”.
President Akufo-Addo explained “what I am seeking, above all, is the rapid growth of private sector jobs, both in industry and agriculture, in the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, which should generate a lot of rural sector jobs.
“Moving Beyond Aid demands that effective measures are taken to address widespread unemployment, especially amongst our youth. We are on the right path to do so”.
The President said Government has also made, in 2017, significant savings of some GH¢800 million in government procurement, as we depart from sole sourcing as the primary method of public procurement.
He said that departure would strengthen the public finances, and make it possible for us to finance development.
He said getting the country to a situation Beyond Aid means, “we add value to our exports, and stop the export of materials such as cocoa, gold, bauxite, manganese and oil in their raw state.
“Our cocoa farmers, for example, get less than 10 per cent of the value of a bar of chocolate, and yet cocoa is the main ingredient. On the world market, bauxite in its raw form is worth about $42 per metric tonne. Processing it just one stage further into alumina oxide will fetch twice that amount.
“Refining the alumina oxide into alumina will increase the value by seven times, and smeltered aluminium fetches one hundred fold what it gets in the raw state. Aluminium, we are told, is the metal of the future”.
President Akufo-Addo said it is for this reason that Ghana has since independence, sought to establish an integrated bauxite and aluminium industry, “this has remained a fond hope. But we are determined to make it happen within the next three years.
“Work on the law establishing an Integrated Bauxite and Aluminium Development Authority is far advanced, and will be submitted to Parliament very shortly”.
He said Government would reach an agreement soon with potential partners to establish an alumina refinery, and expand the VALCO smelter. A successful execution of this project will be key in moving Ghana Beyond Aid, as will be the successful exploitation of our iron ore and manganese deposits to build a steel industry for our country and the region.
“We are all aware of the vast sums of illicit financial flows from our continent that attend the exploitation of our natural resources, especially of our mineral wealth. We can no longer continue to blame others for that.
“We have to take our destiny into our own hands, and design and carry out the appropriate policies and measures that will ensure that we get our fair and proper share of the value of that wealth.
“Government will be rolling out such policies as an integral part of our determination to move Ghana Beyond Aid”.
President Akufo-Addo said “we have huge infrastructure needs in the areas of roads, bridges, water, electricity, housing, hospitals and schools.
“The problem has always been where to find the money. However, where there is a will, there is a way. My government is going to implement an alternative financing model to leverage our bauxite reserves, in particular, to finance a major infrastructure programme across Ghana.
“This will probably be the largest infrastructure programme in Ghana’s history, without any addition to Ghana’s debt stock. It will involve the barter or exchange of refined bauxite for infrastructure.
“We expect to conclude this agreement and start its implementation this year. This will represent a paradigm shift in the financing of our development priorities, and make it possible for Ghana to move Beyond Aid”.
The 61st Independence Anniversary Parade was reviewed by President Akufo-Addo, accompanied by his two aide de camps, the Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Obed Boamah Akwa and the Inspector General of Police Mr David Asante-Appeatu.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria was the special guest of honour at the event.
Other high profile dignitaries, who graced the occasion include the first Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo; Vice President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife Samira; the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo; former President John Agyekum Kufuor; former President Jerry John Rawlings and his wife Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and former Vice President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur.
The rest are; Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo; Mr Ivor Kobina Greenstreet, Convention People's Party Elections 2016 Presidential Candidate; Hajia Hamdatu Ibrahim, CPP first Vice Chairperson; Mr Bernard Mornah, Chairman of the People's National Convention (PNC); and Dr Nii Allotey Brew Hammond, the National Chairman of the Progressive People's Party (PPP).
Others are Ministers of States, Parliamentarians, traditional rulers, members of the diplomatic community, religious leaders and Ghanaians from all walks of life.
Fifty-nine Officers mounted the Parade from the security forces with 1,134 men and women from the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana Prison Service, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Immigration Service, the Ghana National Fire Service and the Custom Division of the Ghana Internal Revenue Service.
Participating in the Parade also were 758 teachers, students, and pupils drawn from Basic and Senior High Schools in the Greater Accra Region.
The Mass Band was composed of men and women from the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Bands.