President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the government is working assiduously to build a robust Ghanaian economy that will make the country self-sufficient, even in the midst of a global crisis.
To that end, he said, the government was pursuing aggressive policies and programmes towards the structural transformation of the economy to make it more robust to withstand both internal and external shocks.
“This is why the government, under my leadership since 2017, has laid emphasis on industrial transformation through especially the One District, One Factory (1D1F), the transformation of the automobile industry, as well as strategic addition to mineral resources, which are key drivers to a future robust Ghanaian economy,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo was speaking on the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s Bolgatanga-based URA Radio to kick-start his one-day tour of the Upper East Region last Friday.
He spoke on a wide range of issues bordering on the economy, the government’s recent decision to seek International Monetary Fund (IMF) support and its implication on the free SHS policy, the fight against illegal mining (galamsey), as well as a number of issues peculiar to the region.
“As a country, we should have an economy that is so robust and self-sufficient that the basic needs of the people in particular are produced by Ghanaian entities and companies locally,” he pointed out.
He stressed that it was important for Ghanaians to keep their eyes on two issues — continue the process of structural transformation of the economy that would make the country more independent to make it resilient and make provision for global interferences that were always bound to happen.
“I am hoping that the measures we are taking now to build our economy will make the country have the needed dependency and become self-reliant for the benefit of ordinary Ghanaians,” he said.
IMF vs free SHS
Allaying the fears of Ghanaians in relation to the free senior high school policy (SHS) as the country sought a bailout from the IMF, the President gave an assurance that the free SHS policy was at the heart of the government and non-negotiable, in spite of the country seeking support from the IMF.
“I am very confident that the free SHS and free TVET policy will be intact and cannot be sacrificed because we are going for an IMF programme,” he said, stressing: “Remember we introduced the free SHS policy in 2017 when we were under an IMF programme which eventually ended in 2019.”
“Therefore, I find it very illogical that a policy started in 2017 when we were under an IMF support will, all of a sudden, be cancelled because we are going for another IMF programme,” he indicated.
President Akufo-Addo said the Bank of Ghana had to make exceptional efforts to meet the crude oil bill due to the continuous increase in crude oil prices, saying: “This resulted in the dislocation of the country’s balance of payment, compelling it to seek temporary support from the IMF.”
Over-ambitious Agenda 111 targets
Touching on the Agenda 111 projects, he confessed that some of the targets set for the early completion of the projects were over-ambitious, since a much longer time was spent on agreeing on sites for the project.
He added “In fact, in some areas, the search is still ongoing for a suitable site for the construction of all the new district hospitals under the policy,” he said, noting that “87 out of the 111 projects are currently at various stages of completion”.
“I am highly optimistic that a substantial number of them will be completed and inaugurated before my tenure of office ends in 2024,” he added.
Responding to a question on the long-awaited airport in the region, he said land had been secured but a site had not been secured yet, saying that had to do with internal issues within the government.
He indicated that the original site for the construction of the regional airport was changed apparently due to security reasons, saying “the final examination of the suitability of a site has not been made”.
He stressed that once that was done, the country could look forward to a timetable for work to begin on the airport project, adding: “I can assure the people that the commitment is there for the construction of the airport.”
Fight against galamsey
On the fight against galamsey, President Akufo-Addo said the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commission were putting in place measures to secure the environment from the galamsey menace.
He admitted that the fight would not be easy, but the government would not relent, no matter the difficulties, noting that “the damage to land and water bodies over a period of time will be catastrophic for future generations if the practice was not brought under control”.
Commenting on the long-standing Bawku chieftaincy dispute, he appealed to the feuding factions to cease fire and come together as one people, saying: “Let us find an amicable solution to the dispute to fast-track the growth and development of the area for the benefit of the people.”
“Obviously, the longer the dispute continues, the more opportunity it gives to infiltrators to use the feud to penetrate the country to foment trouble,” the President said.