President John Agyekum Kufuor has described the country's economy as 'strong and resilient when he delivered his 8th and final State of the Nation Address to a packed Parliament House in Accra yesterday.
The Address, which is in accordance with the 1992 Constitution of the 4th Republic presented an overview of the performance of Kufuor's Government since he assumed office in 2001.
Explaining the state of the country's economy in 2001, the President stated that the economy was entrapped by incredibly high inflation and interest rates of over 40% and 50% respectively. This, President Kufuor said, forced the nation to make the most pragmatic and popular choice of adopting the HIPC initiative since 'the country was broke and could not sustain the services of its debts.
'The progress recorded in the past seven years has proven beyond doubt that the decision to go HIPC was a master stroke.' the President observed.
The President mentioned the successful issuance of a Euro-bond on the London Stock Exchange to raise USD 750 million for infrastructure development, the dramatic redenomination of the cedi without incident, rating of Ghana as the most attractive business destination as well as proliferation of many reputable banks in the country as some of the greatest litmus tests of Government's pre-occupation for the macro-economy.
These achievements, His Excellency added was the results of well-implemented policies and adherence to fiscal and monetary disciplines, 'which are now the hallmark of the economy.'
President Kufuor also touched on the progress of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which he hinted has moved beyond 6.5% in the face of many difficulties, adding that, 'it is expected to pass the 8% mark within the next three years.'
On the oil discovery which the President described as the biggest blessing of the Jubilee year with an estimated commercial quantities of over 3 billion barrels assured that the find should impact on the economy within the next 2-3 years.
The President disclosed that a Ministerial committee has been set-up to work towards the development of appropriate policies and measures, especially a regulatory framework which will make the sector profitable for the entire society.
'With the proper management of the find, the country should be free from the inadequate liquidity, which has been a major constraint to effective discharge of development programmes.'
President John Agyekum Kufuor also disclosed that Government, within seven years, have worked hard to achieve its priority areas namely good governance, private sector development, a vigorous infrastructure development, modernised agriculture centered on rural development, enhanced social services delivery, with special emphasis on education and health.
In a reaction, the Minority spokesperson for Energy and Member of Parliament (MP) for Nabdam, Hon. Moses Asaga intimated that the Government failed to deliver key electoral promises in the area of corruption, unemployment and a balance management of government expenditure and debt.