Expectations high for Akufo-Addo’s penultimate SONA

Social News Expectations high for Akufo-Addos penultimate SONA
FEB 27, 2024 LISTEN

Ghanaians are in high expectations as President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo prepares to deliver his last-but-one State of the Nation Address (SONA) tomorrow, Tuesday, February 27.

This follows the President's promise to delivering a “Ghana beyond Aid” vis-à-vis the current economic situation.

Per Article 67 of the country's Constitution, the President is to deliver a message on the State of the Nation to Parliament at the start of each session of and before the dissolution of Parliament.

In 2019, the World Bank described Ghana, a major cocoa and gold exporter as Africa's shining star, and the world's fastest-growing economy.

The country doubled its economic growth, recording an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of six per cent per annum.

However, developments from 2020, including the COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine conflict, and domestic inflationary pressures, exchange rate pressures, high fuel prices, made economic conditions in the country difficult.

To address these challenges, the government is currently implementing a US$3 billion Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Backed by the country's Post-COVID-19 Programme for Economic Growth (PC-PEG), the three-year US$3bn facility is expected to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, build resilience, and lay the foundation for stronger and more inclusive growth.

With this address being the penultimate before exiting office, some Ghanaians have expressed high expectations of the President.

Among others, the President is to provide an update on major programmes in the past seven years, including the Free Senior High School (SHS) initiative, Planting for Food and Jobs (II), as well as the One District, One Factory (1D1F) initiative.

With the Ghana Statistical Service's (GSS) 2023 Annual Household Income and Expenditure Survey indicating that unemployment for the first three quarters of 2023 was 14.7 per cent, it is also expected that update on the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO), YouStart, which are major interventions to address unemployment would be provided by the President.

Ahead of the SONA presentation, the Ghana News Agency engaged some Ghanaians on their expectations in critical areas of the economy, including, energy, transportation, education and trade.

Nana Amoasi VII, Executive Director, Institute for Energy Security (IES), said he wanted to know the plans the President had for reviving the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), and issues of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG).

“We want to see that the price of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) will be made affordable for consumers. Over the past three years, we've seen a surge in the use of wood fuels, including charcoal. It means that people are compelled to fall on those carbon-intensive fuels because they appear cheaper and accessible mostly to rural folks,” he said.

“If they can look at the LPG and remove some of the taxes and levies to make it affordable, it can increase the penetration of this fuel,” he noted.

He asked the Government to address the growing debt in the power sector, with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Ghana Grid Company Limited, and Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), all struggling to get their tariffs to maintain their grid systems for transmission and distribution.

He said: “We want to know if the Government is still interested in private sector participation in the power sector as a conduit for solving some of the challenges of ECG.”

Nana Amoasi said he looked forward to the government announcing strategic plans to boost investment in the sector, particularly in the face of energy transition.

Mr Abbas Ibrahim Moro, Public Relations Officer, Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) said he wanted the Government to scrap emission levy, saying, “we are already paying tax on every litre of fuel we buy”.

He also wanted reduction in fuel prices, stressing that, “this year alone, fuel prices have been increased twice”.

Georgina Sackey, a final year student at Accra Technical University, said she wanted the Government to highlight what it was doing to expand technical and vocational training and to make education more practical.

“Doing so will help the young people to create their own jobs, thereby reducing unemployment, and we'll be able to provide the country with more skilled-labour.”

Kelvin Frimpong, a private sector worker, said he expected the President to give account on how youth unemployment had been tackled, particularly the number of jobs that the government had created and the impact on the lives of young people.

“The Government keeps saying they have created so many jobs. But a lot of people keep complaining that there are no jobs. So the President should address that,” he said.

Kojo Wala, a truck pusher, said he was concerned about what Government was doing to allow traders to go about their businesses without disruptions by taskforces.

He said taskforces frequently disrupted the activities of traders, who operated by the roadside, which impeded, making it hard for him to earn regular incomes.