President J.E.A Mills welcomes Madam Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President. With them is Mr Ishac Diwan, World Bank, Country Director (left), Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu,(Attorney -General and Minister for Justice) in the background and Mr John Martey Newman, Chief of Staff. President John Evans Atta Mills has pledged Government's commitment to ensure that Ghana's economy regains macroeconomic stability. In connection with that, Government has taken a holistic view of the economy, and is looking at everything possible to ensure that things are put right.
President Mills was addressing a World Bank delegation led by its Vice President for Africa, Ms Obiageli Ezekwesili, when they called on him at the Castle, Osu in Accra yesterday.
He said Government, the past two months in office, tried to find out the true state of the economy, and the picture, however, is not as rosy as the nation has been led to think, but added that it should not give cause for panic.
The President said Government is doing everything possible to ensure that the economy regain macroeconomic stability, adding 'Nobody can take credit for the fact that there are budget deficits, the fact that we are spending more than we collect. If you do that, how can you have meaningful investments which will provide jobs for our people?'
He described the current period of global economic downturn as critical times, but said Government will not take any desperate measures. 'We should do exactly what is right, and I know that our economy is resilient enough. We have the human resources, to be able to turn things round, and I believe that given the hard work, given the goodwill, given the cooperation, sticking to the rules, and doing what is right, we should be able to weather the storm'.
The process, the President observed, requires patience, adding that the 'people will only be patient with us if those of us who are managing the economy show that we understand what it takes, show that we are prepared to make the sacrifices, and we show that we are prepared to tell them nothing but the truth'.
Touching on transparency, President Mills said Ghanaians must know the true state of the economy and how Government is responding to the challenges. 'It is true that the nation is hit by the global economic down turn. Nobody can be blamed for it. But what it really means is that, we have to factor this into whatever programmes we have', he said.
President Mills said the sole objective of Government is to structure the economy to enable it to provide jobs, food, healthcare and education for Ghanaians. 'We are aware of the challenges ahead. But I believe the people of Ghana will give us the goodwill and the understanding. But they will only do so if we do what is right and proper'.
He pledged Government's cooperation with the World Bank to achieve the set goals, and commended the World Bank for its assistance over the years, hoping her visit will be memorable and useful for the World Bank and Ghana. The Bank has been one of the nation's benefactors, have help the nation chart a course for itself, and Ghana will continue to maintain and strengthen the already strong ties that exists between them.
Ms Obiageli Ezekwesili said her visit was to enable her renew the partnership that has existed between the World Bank and the citizens and Government of Ghana. She said the World Bank as an institution that focuses on development, is constantly in search with their partners for solutions to poverty that continue to be a serious issue in Africa.
The World Bank Vice President for Africa disclosed that she has meet with a number of officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Energy and Food and Agriculture during the teams visit, and this has enabled them to look at very important issues that affect macroeconomic stability.
Ms Obiageli Ezekwesili told the President that the global economic crises is really going to be critical, especially the kind of shocking impact that it is beginning to have on African economies. Ghana, she noted, is a victim of this shocks arising from the rising fuel and food price crises, when it is also contending with fiscal imbalance.
She said the problems are results emerging from some challenges of the public sector, adding that 'the public sector effectiveness is going to be key going forward and looking at the issues of quality of public investment in order to ensure that there is value for money. The range of important budgetary reforms that will enable the investment in basic services should be very beneficial to the citizens of Ghana'.
According to the World Bank Vice President, the team also discussed World Bank support, which is predicated on very important reforms and have a very credible medium term programmes that will enable the Bank to move along with other partners to support the financing gap that Ghana is dealing with.