Key industry leaders are demanding answers from the President on concrete steps that the government will take to forestall peace and ensure a secure working environment for businesses to thrive.
Ahead of this year’s state of the nation address on Thursday, some of the industry players are calling on the President to use that opportunity to assure the business community that all security threats will be tackled head-on.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in separate interviews yesterday, the Institute of Chartered Economists of Ghana (ICEG), Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), the Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU), and the Ghana Union of Trade Association (GUTA), stressed that insecurity in the country had the potential to drive away external investors and affect economic development.
They made references to the series of murder cases including the killing of an investigative journalist with Tiger Eye PI, Mr Ahmed Hussein-Suale, the recent spate of kidnappings, as well as the violence that erupted during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election and asked for swift measures to improve the security situation in the country to boost investor confidence.
The President of ICEG, Mr Gideon Amissah, said there was a strong correlation between security and investor confidence for which reason the institute looked forward to seeing how the President would work towards a secured country.
“For us at ICEG, we want an assurance from President Akufo-Addo that the ordinary Ghanaian is safe when they go out of their homes to work,” he said.
He added that ICEG was looking forward to hearing how the government intended to take a strong stance against the proliferation of small arms among members of the public, as well as vigilantism among political parties.
Mr Amissah said the institute wanted to know how the government would strictly adhere to the Public Procurement Law, especially in 2020 when political activities and pressures from interest groups would peak and be committed to being within the budget and its fiscal targets.
He also stressed that the institute wanted answers from the President on the measures that were being taken to make the cedi stronger against other currencies.
“We have not heard from the Economic Management Team on the short, medium to long-term measures that are being put in place to address the depreciating cedi issue,” he said.
For the Secretary-General of GFL, Mr Abraham Koomson, nothing meant so much to workers than an assurance of improved security from the President.
He noted that the productivity of workers and businesses would be low if they could not trust their security was guaranteed.
“As workers, we need peace in the country to be able to work because if there is an eruption of civil disobedience and breakdown of law and order, no one can report to work and this can affect businesses,” he stressed.
“We want to know how the perpetrators of the Ayawaso West Wuogon violence in that by-election will be brought to book and how the Commission of Inquiry that has been set up by the President will facilitate that process to ensure that all who will be caught in the net are prosecuted,” he said.
He said the federation also wanted an assurance from the President that partisan interest would be shelved to ensure that there was peace in the 2020 polls.
For his part, the President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng, said the association wanted the President to announce pragmatic measures that would assure traders that their investments would not go down the drain because of insecurity in the country.
“As traders, we do not take the security of the country for granted because it is very important for our businesses. If there is war or conflict in this country, people will run away but our businesses cannot run.
“Suppliers will no longer give us wares just the same way investors will not give us credit, we want the President to tell us steps to prevent conflicts, especially in the 2020 elections,” he said.
Dr Obeng also said GUTA was concerned about the depreciation of the cedi against other currencies and the high rate of duties saying that those two phenomena had taken a negative toll on their businesses.
In addition, he called on President Akufo-Addo to make the government’s position on foreigners who were engaged in the local retail sector known to the association.
“The law of the country does not allow foreigners to participate in the domestic retail sector but if this law is not being enforced, GUTA finds it problematic, so we want the President to come clear on it,” he said.
While joining in the call for improved security in the country, the General Secretary of PUWU, Mr Michael Adumatta Nyantakyi, called for policies that would reduce utility tariffs for the “ordinary Ghanaian.”
He said the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) provided essential services for citizens for which reason their operations must not be tampered with.
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) has said it will expect President Nana Akufo Addo in the 2019 State Of the Nation’s address (SONA) to state clearly the government’s road map and strategies for ending the double track senior high school (SHS) system to enhance quality education delivery.
GNAT also wants the government to indicate how quality education at the basic schools can be achieved through a timely and adequate supply of educational resources, including school infrastructure.
“As teachers will be concerned about the improvement in the conditions of service for all workers including teachers, said Ms Gifty Apanbil, Deputy General Secretary in charge of professional development at GNAT.
“We will also be expecting to hear from the government how all educational resources mobilised both internally and externally can be channelled into financing public education to ensure free, accessible, inclusive and quality public education and also to ensure that education is not commercialised,” she stated.
For political tolerance and peace, Mrs Apanbil said GNAT would expect the President to tell the public how the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) would be empowered to carry out its mandate to make citizens responsible for achieving peace.
“When there is no peace and no political tolerance, it will affect education. So we want to have the assurance that the NCCE will be empowered to educate everybody on how to contribute towards peace so that our educational system is assured of continuous growth,” she said.
GNAT, she said, would also want to know the permanent solution government would provide to the perennial flooding in the three northern regions following the opening of the Bagri Dam which affected education and agriculture in those regions.
“Normally they consider the effect of the floods on the agriculture sector and forget that when those places have flooded the students and teachers are absent from school the whole period that those areas are flooded and that accounts for the poor quality of education in that area.
Government must tell us the permanent solution to address this issue.”
Additionally, she said, GNAT would look forward to knowing, “how the government will ensure liquidity so that business can thrive because when businesses thrive, the educational system can also thrive as parents can take care of their children.”
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of the Ga Central Municipal Assembly, Dr Emmanuel Lamptey, said he believed that the President would use the occasion to rally for support from the public to achieve the government’s numerous initiatives.
“The President has asked us to be active citizens and not spectators, so I think he would use the occasion to reiterate that point,” he said.
He also mentioned that the government had described this year as an action year, focused on massive infrastructure development and believed that the President would outline some of the major infrastructure ongoing as well as those completed.
Mr Lamptey said he expected the President to generally present an overview of the government’s achievement over the past two years and projections towards the future.
The state of the nation address, also known as SONA, was first implemented under the administration of the second President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana -The John Agyekum Kufuor Administration.
The national Constitution explicitly demands that the President should give a State of the Nation Address at the beginning and close of every parliamentary session.
Former President, John Agyekum Kufuor, was the first president to deliver the state of the nation address in Ghana.