President Akufo-Addo says he has travelled across the country well enough to know at first hand, Ghana’s bad roads despite former government’s touted unprecedented infrastructural achievements.
He says the rail network from Tarkwa to Takoradi and other rehabilitations of old railway lines is expected to ease the difficulty of travelling.
Work at the Achimota-Nsawam rail line is ongoing and some 10 passenger coaches are being procured. He says he is excited about the aviation sector as competition is driving down cost of domestic air travels.
The Sinhydro project, a $2bn deal with China, is a welcome game changer in road construction in Ghana. He will ensure value for money as the Chinese company constructs roads and other social infrastructural projects.
He allays fears Ghana will end on the bad side of the deal with China and compromise her soveriegnty.
The President says the 2019 budget is founded on entreprenuership, infrastructure, agricultural modernisation, improved revenue moblisation.
The economy is now on strong foundation and ready for a take off. He refers to improved macroeconomic indicators.
Not enough people are paying taxes and “too much informal” economic activities are taking place without record, he complains. Akufo-Addo touches on efforts to formalise economy such as National Digital Addressing System (NDAS), Paperless Port System.”
There are 1.2m verified addresses under the NDAS, a process which can drive down interest rates on loans because people’s location can be confirmed and are therefore less likely to run away from paying their loans.
Ban on illegal mining has not been lifted and will not be lifted. The ban that has been lifted is small-scale mining. “I cannot and will not give up the fight on illegal mining,” he assures.
Every constitutency is to get one ambulance next year as procurement processes are yet to be completed. Government will “launch the world’s largest and most advanced medical drones.”
It will reduce wastage in the system, employ 200 Ghanaians and will not be run on the public budget but on corporate support.
“I prefer medical drones flying than Guinea fowls flying to Burkina Faso,” he jabs.
He encoruages Ghanaians to venture into farming as his agricultural policies pay off in improved yields, jobs and profit. He highlights the Presidential Pitch where young people showcased thir businesses in hope of government support.
Free SHS gets all the headlines but I encourage you to look at other developments in the education sector, he says. There is a $1.5bn facility to build world class dormitories, classrooms and laboratories coming pending parliamentary approval.
He predicts quality products will emerge from Ghana’s schools as a result of his education policies.
Some 79 factories under his industrialisation plan coming.
The people seeking new regions are not seeking to secede from Ghana. They just want new administrative regions. He wants those seeking new regions to be left to try and meet the high constitutional requirements set out in a referendum.
He reiterates his commitment to stamp out vigilantism by his supporters that has plagued his government.
Government has increased funding for constitutional anti-corruption bodies. In 2017 a 12.8% increase in funding to some five such bodies like EOCO, CHRAJ.
He believes Ghanaians will hear from the Special Prosecutor in 2019. He mentions cases being prosecuted by the Attorney-General such as the trial of former COCOBOD CEO and former SSNIT CEO.
Banks collapse: He calls the Central bank decision to collapse seven weak local banks courageous. 70% of affected jobs within these 7 defunct banks were saved with the creation of the Consolidated Bank of Ghana.
Government has set up Special Investigative Team for possible prosecutions of officials responsible for dissipating depositors’ funds and public funds as well as breaking banking regulations.
Ghana’s banking sector will emerge stronger after his government’s reforms.
Ghana is existing its 17th IMF programme since independence in 2019, he notes. The most important lesson from the IMF assistance is that Ghana cannot afford to continue with fiscal indiscipline.
Laws will be passed to check fiscal irresponsibilty and a presidential advisory committee will help him with ideas to check fiscal slippages.
He ends, gets applause and gets ready for questions.
QUESTON AND ANSWERS TIME
Ebo Quansah: I want to know how the glossy picture of the economy is going to impact ordinary Ghanaians. He floats the idea of one district, one sports stadium.
Akufo-Addo: The fundamentals of the economy is what will attract investors who are assured fiscal discipline will protect their investments. He says we shouldn’t snare at this fundamentals of the economy.
It is not just language, it is about the development of the economy. He does not accept description of glossy picture. He gave facts, tell me if there are not true. He said he recognises salaries are too low which shows he is not interested in painting glossy pictures only recounting economic facts.
Food prices have gone down and parents don’t pay school fees at secondary school level.
If Ghanaians step back, they will find there is more money in their pockets than there has ever been. Reduced electricity prices bringing more reliefs to Ghanaians.
Question: How is the government managing the population?
President: Japanese population is declining. Accra used to be 250,000 people. Today it is 6 million. Process of modernisation such as girl child education slows down reproduction.
Question: How does he ensure his port reforms does not overburden Ghanaians with high cost of clearing goods.
President: Strong lobby to remove import duties like Dubai to generate massive imports and businesses. His government will take a decision on this idea. He says he is sensitive to import duties and impact on Ghanaians.
Kojo Acheampong, TV Africa: He wants a presidential assessment of the Fisheries minister
President: I think that was not kind to the lady. She is doing a difficult job. Fishermen are very conservative people and getting them to change habits is difficult. President is satisfied with her enthusiasm and courage.
Question: You spoke about medical drones, a group from Michigan aerospace meet with you over drone technology.
President: I am not familiar with the issue with Michigan aerospace issue. These people when they came to see me did not discuss it at all.
He invites the Health minister to answer> He says he has not seen documents read by journalist. They came but not from Michigan Aerospace company and also they did not demonstrate their ability to fund the projects intended in the documents the journalist read.
Adinkra: I want to find out progress on construction of a National Theatre in Kumasi, Ashanti region
Michael Oti Adjei: What are your core lessons from the scandalous sports documentary and how you intend to build a relationship with the next FA.
President: Government should keep out of the administration of football. It is not possible for government to turn a blind eye on corruption in football administration.
The Normalisation Committee signals a new beginning in football administration. There is nobody in Ghana who loves football more than me. Anybody who knows me, knows I am a fanatic.
Question: What is the current status of investigations into Central Medical Stores razed down in 2015 concluded to be arson?
Answer: Health minister comes to answer. There is a National Security report, Fire Service report. National Security recommended forensic investigations. A forensic auditor has been contracted to work on this. His work is done and presented to the A-G.
He wondered how a forensic audit would be done because three days after the incident, the place was cleared.
Question: What are the projects undertaken by the Zongo Development ministry? What is being done about cyber security in the Zongos and community policy?
Answer: Minister for Zongo Development steps up to answer: Boreholes have been sunk, teachers recruited to teach Arabic in Zongo communities. The ministry has no programme for Community policing in Zongos beyond what existing agencies are doing. Government has signed an agreement with a Nima-based NGO to train young people in coding skills. We intend to reach 1,000 by end of 2020.
Communications minister adds her voice, calling for sensitisation on cyber security. Government is building a cyber security center and academy.
Question, Star FM: What is the way forward with decentralisation?
Charles Takyi Boadu, Daily Guide: Would you consider revising some initiatives like free SHS which has been criticised by the opposition?
Answer: It is becoming clear to me that every step to modernise society is met with resistance – digitisation, national ID cards, of course free SHS are being resisted by the opposition. I know some people have a vested interest in backwardness.
Bombs from some think tanks have little substance. They are not going to deter this administration from bring economic initiatives to take Ghana forward.
Donald, Daily Graphic: Has government committed any resources to buy a building in Norway to be used as an embassy? Do you support opposition calls for a probe?
Answer: Foreign Affairs minister repeats what she has already said in the media that no monies have been disbursed. It is the Finance ministry NOT Foreign Affairs that would do disbursement if government agrees to buy it.
We are know nowhere near advising the disbursement of monies because several steps lik procurement are yet to be taken.
How can a probe be formed when there is no evidence that the transaction has taken place. It is a pattern of accusations to throw allegations in the air. His government will spend all the time at probes.
When arguments and allegations are debunked, there is no apology from the opposition and they move to the next allegations. This pattern is going to get worse.
Allegations are so empty of substance. He calls them red herrings to distract government from focussing on its mandate. A serious allegation will get a probe but not the flimsiest ones.
We are done. The program is over.
Several influential media houses and top journalists have been ignored at question time. This is certainly going to spark controversy.
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