State of the Nation address: What to expect

On Thursday morning at 10:00 am, millions will tune in to hear President Akufo-Addo speak on the current state of the Republic of Ghana. The annual event, designed in accordance with Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution, will take place at Parliament, where he will address Speaker of Parliament, Aaron Mike Ocquaye.

Here is what to expect.

On Finance

During 2017’s State of the Nation address, Akufo-Addo applauded the nation’s Economic Management Team for reducing taxes and maintaining relative exchange rate stability. Under his administration, he said, he successfully accelerated the economy to a rate of 4.3%, a feat accomplished largely due to Vice President Bawumia.

Experts predict he will maintain his comments on the economy, making specific references to Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta’s 2018 budget speech last November.

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Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

“I am happy to note that we have turned the economy around and our policies are yielding results, restoring hope and bringing relief to Ghanaians,” Ofori-Atta said at the time.

The Minister affirmed his stance on closing the margin of Ghana’s 6.3% fiscal deficit, and avowed that in the following year (2019), he would work closely with the administration to raise the nation’s revenue, although the government missed its revenue target by $2 billion in 2018.

On Education

Critics say the President will continue to address his support of the Free Senior High School policy. The program, implemented in September 2017, was planned to remove education cost barriers for families with teenage children.

Last year, Akufo-Addo said that Free SHS “enabled 90,000 students to gain access to Senior High School education,” although some suggest the policy was too ambitious for the country to sustain.

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Deputy Education Minister, Yaw Osei Adutwum

Nevertheless, the President stated, Free SHS was successful and “we have been able to meet my promise made last year to the House, and reduced the fiscal deficit from 9.3% to an estimated 5.6% of GDP.”

On Employment

Akufo-Addo admits that job creation in Ghana has stifled, but during last year’s address, he guaranteed that he would put employment on the top of his agenda.

“The number of young people who cannot find work is staggering and a threat to our national security,” he said.

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Minister of Labor and Employment, Ignatius Baffour Awuah

This year, experts believe he will address the Nation Builders’ Corps (NABCO), a new program launched in 2018 that was expected to employ 100,000 young graduates into the public sector. Reports on NABCO’s success are few, so many will anticipate if the administration will provide specific numbers on the program’s progress.

On Health

“A healthy nation, Mr Speaker, is a well-fed nation,” Akufo-Addo said during the 2018 address.

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Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang

Pundits expect the President to outline whether the Health Ministry’s revival of NHIS was effective, and what improvements the government plans to bring to the conditions of health workers. As it stands, Ghana has only 55 ambulances to serve 28 million people. Experts will want to know if he will address the issue, and what the President’s plans are on increasing those numbers.

On Security

Following the calamity that struck the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election last month, experts will want to know what protocol Akufo-Addo intends to implement to secure the nation’s citizens. A concrete, precise and detailed framework will be expected with specific mention to law enforcement, the military and members of national security.

Last year, the President said that a GH¢800 million budget was created to equip the Police with drones, automobiles, helicopters, motorbikes and ammunition to combat violent and environmental crime.

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Bryan Acheampong, Minister of State in charge of National Security

“Ghanaian citizens have a right to expect to go about their daily lives in an atmosphere of peace,” he said during last year’s address.

Experts – and the nation – will want answers as to how to combat crime effectively and prevent catastrophes like the Ayawaso West Wuogon disaster from ever happening again.