25
Sun, Feb

President Akufo-Addo is a confused man - still dancing around vague rhetoric

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This is surely not the speech expected from the President who last year assured us of a miracle and unprecedented transformation, the man who a few months ago described his predecessor as incompetent and told us that all the moneys needed to make Ghana the Mecca of Africa, are right here with us. The President and his Vice promised Ghanaians that they will ensure that no Ghanaian will have a reason to go outside of the country for medical treatment.
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Written By Ohenenana Obonti Krow - The President's speech at this year's 'State of The Nation Address' can best be described as illusory and vague. He repeated his promises and stated things he plans to do but he seems to have no clue how he is going to achieve that. It seems he is still on the soap box, whereby promises and promises, intentions and lies, are the order. That serious national occasion metamorphosed into a praise and worship ceremony where the President showered praises on his Ministers.

The President was on the promises he gave in his last address which indeed has been the main thrust of his electioneering campaigns; the president was silent on the 51 factories he promised were going to be established by November 2017, he kept mute on the recent fuel price increase, the reduction of utility tariff, he failed to touch on the dams etc.

Apart from his administration's policy of issuing bonds to create fiscal space for more excessive borrowing, he couldn't tell us how his administration is going to generate revenue to run his government, apart from the oil.

Related: Full Text: President Akufo-Addo's Second Stated Of The Nation Address

Related: Highlights of Akufo-Addo's 2018 State of the Nation Address

Related: Ken Ofori-Atta is a national asset – Akufo-Addo

His speech was too vague and illusory, like a speech being delivered by a novice in the political business. This is that President who had the opportunity of serving in government as Attorney General and Foreign Minister and one that has sought to rule this nation since 2008, so he had all the time in the world, to have mapped out his cause of action and strategies.

This is surely not the speech expected from the President who last year assured us of a miracle and unprecedented transformation, the man who a few months ago described his predecessor as incompetent and told us that all the moneys needed to make Ghana the Mecca of Africa, are right here with us. The President and his Vice promised Ghanaians that they will ensure that no Ghanaian will have a reason to go outside of the country for medical treatment.

The Vice himself hasn't kept the promise. The President promised Ghanaians that he will wipe off unemployment from Ghana and said his target was creation of over 3 million new jobs a year through his industrialisation policy and agriculture. The true state of the unemployment situation is that Ghana's unemployment rate has increased under the current administration and statistics available show that the current rate is the highest unemployment rate recorded since 2000.

The President must by his new found friends Bloomberg that developed no longer rely on GDP as a measure for economic progress. It is better they rebase GDP and use another methodology that would reflect economic reality. They should rebase the calculation. They are controlling an oil driven economy and the methodology they have been using since they took over the economy is not relevant to measure economic reality in recent times.

They are no longer reflecting the true situation of things. If the base is wrong, figures the administration will churn out will continue to be wrong. The Mahama administration incorporated human development index in measuring economic progress and it was therefore not surprising that under Mahama/ NDC, Ghana was rated number one in the sub region in terms of human development index.

One of the measures developed to measure economic progress is the Human development index. The President should ask himself why Ghanaians including his own supporters have started expressing their disappointments in his administration, why the spare parts dealers described him as "story teller", why traders have started seeking for spiritual intervention to save their businesses for collapsing, why drivers have removed his posters and stickers, and the general hardship Ghanaians are going through in spite of his sweet words.

What he should know is that if a country only engages in the production of tobacco, GDP can continue to increase so it is all about economic activities this is the reason why countries have collections of indicators which they have devised to measure their progress over time. Instead of relying on that paid to project Blomberg report, he should rely on the UN Development Programme HDI which it uses to benchmark countries based on combined measurement of GDP per capital, health and education. If his policy makers extend or broaden horizon they will appreciate the relevance of policies the last administration rolled out vis-à-vis real growth of the economy.

The President should know that economic growth is an essential but not the only condition for economic development that is, assuming without admitting that what he said about the economy based on his Blomberg report is accurate. The economic trend in a country as a whole, is the major component for its business environment. An economy whose growth rate is high provides promising business prospect and thus build business confidence. Is that the case with Ghana?

The World Bank's recent report on investment in Africa, rated Ghana very low, Barclays' South Africa corroborated this report. Ghana under John Mahama was rated the most attractive and safest environment for doing business in the sub region. The President should not confuse himself - his government is presiding over an oil driven economy so must factor that into his calculations to enable him know his administration's performance.

Government has borrowed billions of dollars since it the administration took over, issuing of bonds has become the economic fashion of the administration yet government is not paying contractors, not paying statutory funds, cannot point to one infrastructure so why the praise singing by the President?

THE MAHAMA/NDC FACTOR:

All the noise the President made about the economy were made possible as a result of Mahama/NDC administration's investment in the oil industry and its economic diversification programme. The Mahama administration signed a $7 billion deal between the government of Ghana and ENI, a state owned Italian oil conglomerate and its partners, for the exploration of the offshore cape three points block. The NPP vehemently condemned the deal and made a formal appeal to the Italian Prime Minister over alleged malfeasance in the deal.

The World Bank and other global institutions projected improvement in Ghana's economy because of the administration's initiatives in the oil sector. President Mahama at a Business Forum in Italy (Ghana- Italy Business Forum), projected the cocoa industry to the world resulting in the foreign investments recorded in the industry. His administration as part of its economic diversification policy, distributed free hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers and supplied them with free fertilizer to increase the volume of cocoa beans harvested each season to meet international demand.

If we look at the GINI coefficient, or measure the extent to which the distribution of income or consumption expenditure among households within the Ghanaian economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution, Ghana is among the most unequal countries in the world. Inclusive policies are an absolute prerequisite for political stability and real growth. This was the reason why the last administration focused on good transport system, penetration of information and communication technology good ports, high literacy rate, good hospitals etc. for real development in every sphere to happen to enable us achieve the inclusive dream, and we need to improve our infrastructure.

The Mahama administration invested in infrastructure and was rated number two to Nkrumah when it came to infrastructure development. Antonio Estache and Gregoire Garsous, both experts in infrastructure investment in Africa, state in their literal notes on "the impact of infrastructure on growth in developing countries" that there is indeed, a plethora of anecdotal and more technical evidence that better quantity and quality of infrastructure can directly raise the productivity of human and physical capital and hence growth.

Governance is not just about churning out dreams you have no clue about their actualisation. It is not about standing before the masses to shower praises on your ministers when the masses are complaining bitterly about their deplorable conditions, it is not about assessing your performance yourself and trumpeting success when the masses have downgraded your performance.

The President mentioned that 3,000 Ghanaian youth are being offered training at the Accra Digital Centre to acquire entrepreneurial skills. There are many issues one could raise against the concept and its modalities but let's focus on facility where they are being trained. The Mahama administration as part of its inclusive policies, built the Accra Digital Centre and the target was- the facility will offer jobs to over 10,000 of our youth. It was one of the projects Nana Addo and his NPP described as a Photoshop.

The President is still behaving like a novice in politics. He started his address with his old whining and lamentation skills, forgetting that he is the luckiest President ever in our nation's history. He inherited a stable power sector, an improved oil sector, improved infrastructure base, good policies such us stabilisation levy etc. etc., an economy projected to grow rapidly between 2017 and 2018, yet started by reiterating that old trick that he inherited debt. He should go back to his father's time and tell us which of the regimes from 1957, inherited only fortunes (infrastructure etc.). He should quantify the investment he inherited including investment in the oil industry, infrastructure including the potable water provided for his constituents vis-à-vis the debt he repeats whenever he appear before Ghanaians to account for his stewardship.

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