President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has emphasised that the quest for a new prosperous Ghana, one beyond aid, requires a deliberate change in all aspects of national life, especially in the structure of the economy, the education of its young people and acquisition of skills, as well as holding firm to the values that define the country as a people.
The President was concerned that 61 years after independence, Ghana continued to lag behind its peers such as Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea in per capita income, even though they all gained independence at the same time.
According to him, it is unacceptable for the majority of Ghanaians to be living in poverty, with a per capita income of a paltry $1,512, despite its abundant natural resources.
He recalled that the countries that gained independence with Ghana during the same period have significantly transformed themselves into industrialised economies.
“Income per head in Singapore is now at $51,431; South Korea at $29,115; and Malaysia at $9,623, compared to Ghana’s at $1,512”, he noted.
This narrative, he said, should change, with a renewed focus on industrialisation, by adding value to the country’s vast natural resources and to be self-dependent as a nation.
“It is time to pursue a path to prosperity and self-respect for our nation. A Ghana beyond aid is a prosperous and self-confident Ghana that is in charge of her economic destiny; a transformed Ghana that is prosperous enough to be beyond needing aid, and that engages competitively with the rest of the world through trade and investment. It is possible.
“It is not a pie in the sky notion, because other countries, including some of our peers at independence, have done exactly that. It is doable, and we must believe that what others, with less resources, have done, we can do”, he emphasised.
The President made this observation at the 61st Independence Day celebration, held at the Independence Square in Accra yesterday
According to the President, Ghana is on track towards achieving a prosperous future with the concrete steps government is taking to restore macro-economic stability and economic growth.
He recounted that after a year of disciplined and innovative economic management, Ghana’s economy has grown from 3.6% in 2016, the lowest in 22 years, to 7.9% in 2017, with a projected growth of 8.3% in 2018.
Additionally, inflation has gone down from 15.6% at the end of 2016 to 10.3%, as of January this year.
“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 long run, is fundamental to moving beyond aid”, he noted.
With the economic fundamentals on the right footing, the President was optimistic that the natural outcome should be the creation of jobs for the citizenry.
“This year, we will see vigorous job creation in the public sector, beginning with the recruitment of 100,000 young men and women in the Nation Builders Corp. But what I am seeking, above all, is the rapid growth of private sector jobs, both in industry and agriculture, i.e. in the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, which should generate a lot of rural sector jobs.
The President, however, noted that these policy initiatives, aimed at turning the fortunes of the country around, could be threatened by corruption, and thus need a collective effort in curbing it.
“Corruption is not a partisan matter, and we must all act to protect the public purse”, he charged.
Furthermore, the President hinted of the resolve to get the Right to Information Bill passed into law to further help ensure transparency in the governance processes.
“[After] many years of hesitation, we intend to bring a bill again to Parliament, and work to get it passed into law before the end of this Meeting of Parliament”, he assured.
Additionally, he was optimistic that with the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, more prosecutions for corruption should commence in the coming months.
Commenting on the recent spate of armed robbery in the country, the President assured the safety of all citizens of the country.
“I will work to ensure that citizens are able to go about their daily duties in the confidence that they are safe. No miscreant will have the space to terrorise citizens and generate a sense of insecurity in our country,” he said.
He assured that the government is doing whatever it takes to enable the police discharge their duties effectively.
“We are providing the means for them to modernise their equipment and learn modern methods of policing, and their numbers will be rapidly increased to match our growing population, and the sophistication and audacity of the criminals,” he said.