President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Tuesday, urged Ghanaians to put the challenges of the General Election and the Covid-19 pandemic behind and forge ahead as one people for the common good of the nation.
Delivering his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) to Parliament in Accra, following his reelection, the President outlined the successes of his first term, including macroeconomic stability, with gains in food production, infrastructure, employment generation and energy.
“Yes, we are reeling from the effects of COVID-19, but I am confident that, with the progress of the vaccination programme, we will recover quickly, and work towards putting our nation back onto the path of progress and prosperity, he said.
More so, the unanimous affirmation of his victory by the Supreme Court had positioned the country for greater accomplishments.
“The Supreme Court last week determined the challenge to the validity of the 2020 presidential election, and affirmed its validity in a unanimous decision,” he stated.
“The Court has spoken. It is time for all of us to move on, and, in a united manner, confront the problems of a post-COVID Ghana.
“Now is the time for each and every one of us, irrespective of our political affiliations, to unite, join hands, stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and work hard to place Ghana where she deserves to be,” he said to applause of members the majority side in Parliament, amid the waving of white handkerchiefs.
The macro-economic and other indicators, he noted, pointed to a resilient economy until the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard.
He explained that between 2017 and the first quarter of 2020, the Government had made considerable gains in the management of the national economy – an annual average GDP growth of seven percent, single digit inflation, a stable exchange rate, strong foreign exchange reserves buffer, reduced fiscal deficits with three consecutive years of primary surpluses, markedly reduced lending rates, and appreciable job creation.
However, the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic wrought challenges on those gains, necessitating government intervention that appeared detrimental to the nation’s much sought-after fiscal stability.
“That is why government did not hesitate to institute measures to protect lives and livelihoods, even if it was, to the temporary, detriment to our much sought-after fiscal stability.
The revenue shortfall as a result of the pandemic is estimated at more than 13 billion Ghana cedis.
“My Government found the resources to cushion the impact of the pandemic because we are good managers of the economy, and we are good protectors of the public purse,” the President declared to cheers from his side of the House.
President Akufo-Addo gave an overview of the performance of his government in the areas of infrastructure development, education, water and sanitation, housing, health, railway development, environment, security, energy, monetary policy, transport, among others.
He also mentioned the flagship programmes – Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, the one-Village-One-Dam initiative, One-District-One-Warehouse policy, establishment of greenhouse villages, revitalization of the cocoa rehabilitation programme, and the reactivation the aquaculture industry.
Ghana, he said excitedly, did not experience food shortage during the lockdown and thereafter.
The President pointed out that the pandemic had brought to the fore the need for home grown solutions to the developmental needs of the nation, commending the Ghanaian industrial spirit and innovation in crisis times.
The pandemic, he emphasised, had exposed the need to expedite the process of moving Ghana to a situation beyond aid.
“That is why Government has developed and is currently implementing the GH¢100 billion Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ Programme to transform, revitalise and modernise our economy, and return it to high and sustained growth for the next three years,” the President explained.
He expressed the hope that the nation would rebound to prosperity and with a more inclusive society, saying, “Soon, things will work for all in Ghana, and then we will fulfill our true potential as the Black Star of Africa.”
He renewed his pledge to Ghanaians to remain uncompromisingly committed to strengthening the institutions of democracy, and managing public resources with integrity, fairness, openness and accountability.
The Government would continue to open itself to public scrutiny, he stated, recalling interventions such as the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law and the introduction of the Public Procurement Law to protect the public purse under former President Kufuor.
Under his administration the government has established the Office of Special Prosecutor, and in 2019 enacted the Right to Information Act.
Funding to accountability institutions of state, such as CHRAJ, EOCO, the Judiciary and the Auditor General had been significantly improved.
“Indeed, the institutions of our nation, whether the Executive, Legislature or Judiciary, are working,” the President declared, and urged the people in charge of governance institutions to do their work with professionalism and good faith.
The President reiterated his message to Ghanaians to keep to the core values of integrity, sovereignty, a common ethos, discipline, and shared values and be masters “of our own destiny, where we mobilise our own resources for the future.
“Furthermore, the nation must break the shackles of the ‘Guggisberg’ colonial economy and a mind-set of dependency, bailouts and extraction.
“It is an economy where we look past commodities to position ourselves in a global marketplace. It is a country where we focus on trade, not aid, a hand-up, not a hand-out. It is a country with a strong private sector. It is a country that recognises the connectedness of its people and economy to those of its neighbours.
“This requires a forward-looking vision for our country, enabling us to confront our challenges and embrace our opportunities, not one fastened in the rear-view mirror. It is a Ghana beyond aid.
“Mr. Speaker, I remain wholly committed to the fulfillment of this vision,” the President concluded.