In one of his numerous quotations, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States of America, indicated that, ‘Government was not the solution to our problems, but that government was the problem’. This philosophy of his is not lost on we Africans, it is widely accepted within the African context as the bane of our under-development and for which basis African nations are far behind within the global competitive space.
Nonetheless, this ‘Reagan Philosophy’ seems to be an antithesis of what is manifesting in the new Ghana anchored by the newly led Akufo Addo administration. I quote a local adage, that says; ‘agr) beso a’ efri anapa’, to wit, ‘if the play will be good, it will depend on what happens in the morning’. It is obvious that this government unlike what President Reagan conceived, is to be, a government that offers not just solutions, but, prosperity to its people through a strategic reconstruction of the national economy.
Without need for hyperbole nor flowery language to excite any political libido, I shall proceed to put the 100 days of this government under the probing lens of my microscope in efforts to share with you dear readers, nothing but verifiable facts.
I recall the words of President Akufo Addo during his investiture at the famous independence square grounds, where he acknowledged the fact that there were indeed a lot of work to be done to clean up the mess facing us as a country with a sense of optimism and the ease of a man with a plan. He was eloquent and poised to duty and in hurry to paddle the affairs of the nation onto the path of progress.
True to his words, barely a week after his iconic investiture as the President of our republic, he began the processes of putting up his government to shape by making appointments to certain key sectors of the economy. Thus, positioning himself in the eyes of well-meaning Ghanaians as ready and able to hit the ground running.
It is important to acknowledge that, the foundation of every governance structure is crucial to its success – critical among which is the caliber and quality of its skills-set that are timely put in place to deliver on the vision of the government.
Indeed, those privileged to serve in an Akufo Addo government who were chosen amongst an array of talents within the NPP political fold are men and women of tremendous experience, exposure, action and results oriented who have over the year’s demonstrated competence in harnessing their energies and capabilities in translating vision into reality in their various endeavors. No wonder, despite the political polarization that has characterized our body politics, none of our citizens (definitely not spectators) of our land have been able to genuinely question the competence and quality of the team that is being assembled by the President thus far – indeed to state otherwise, is in itself an admission of self-incompetence. Aptly put, give credit when it's due.
The creation and realignment of certain ministries saw an unprecedented increase in the appointments of Ministers and their respective deputies. As expected, it generated a lot of controversies and public outcry, however, this bold move by the President was to add impetus to his government in fulfilment of his promise to the Ghanaian people to salvage the nation from the economic downturn he inherited. Even though these public outbursts were legitimately grounded and with the usual mischief by the opponents of government, to whom much is given, much is expected. The performance of this government should be able to justify this huge appointment by government.
The economy was not without turbulence. The economic indicators had plummeted. The early days of this government saw a consistent depreciating of the Ghana Cedis against the major trading currencies especially the US dollar, and the intermittent increment of fuel products by the regulatory body. This had a direct impact on the cost of living of the people. There were still complaints by some sections of Ghanaians including those in the private sector who were reasonably impatient and expectant of a decisive measure by the government to put the nation back on track. After all, they voted to the get job done and not excuses. Obviously, prices of goods spiraled and businesses were struggling to meet their overhead cost.
Thankfully, we are currently witnessing the reverse of this phenomenon. The government through its Minister of Finance presented what they christened as ‘asempa budget’ to the parliament of Ghana, the representative of the people. The document outlined a number of policies that will ensure fiscal discipline and revitalize the national economy. These fiscal measures are responding positively on the economy, a reflection of which Ghanaians and businesses are already having a feel of, although, marginal. The Ghanaian Cedi has regained its strength and performing better against the US dollar. The monetary policy rate has also been reduced from 25.5% to 23.5%. Prices of fuel products has also seen further reduction in the last few weeks. There is a growing of momentum and confidence in the economy. This is a signal of a great beginning for the economy, even though, there is still work to be done to correct the economic fundamentals.
Policy Interventions/ Campaign Promises
Prior to last year’s general elections, a litany of promises were made, some of which were documented in the ruling party’s manifesto. These promises were geared towards creating the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and ensuring social justice for every Ghanaian, whether rural or urban dweller. The President in his maiden SONA enumerated same and announced some policy interventions that will attract the immediate attention of his government. The ‘asempa budget’ captured many taxes that government was going to review or abolish.
In the light of these, many taxes which the government described as ‘nuisance taxes’ were either abolished or reviewed downwards. Popular amongst which were the abolishment of levies imposed on ‘Kayayes’, abolishment of 1 percent special import levy, initiation of steps to remove import duties on raw materials, machinery for production and spare parts within the context of ECOWAS Common External Tariff protocol and 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on domestic airline tickets. These are but a few of the interventions made by government with respect to our tax regime in other to bring relief to many businesses and households.
The restoration of the Nursing and teacher training allowance, which was a major policy intervention that the previous government shied away from is yet another great feat in fulfilment of the government’s campaign pledge. There are several other interventions that has/is being initiated by government which I may not have the luxury of space to enumerate.
The three critical issues that concerns Ghanaians are the availability, reliability and the cost of power. Over the years, the unrealistic pricing and unreliability of electricity in most parts of the country raised unforgettable uproar amongst the populace – people and businesses suffered. The Akufo Addo governments much talked about vision of industrial revolution could be challenged if the status quo remains. The government had to be creative by first of all, ensuring prudence in the supply of power and downward review of the electricity tariffs which saw a reduction of the National Electrification levy from 5% to 3% and public lightening levy from 5% to 2%. Though it is early days yet, there has been a relative stability within the power sector and our electricity bills have seen some marginal reduction. Also, it is instructive to note that, government as a matter of policy, initiated steps to ensure power autonomy within the MMDCE’s through the use of renewable energy.
Certain elements in all new governments as we have come to witness over the years have had the audacity to take laws into their own hands in efforts to wrestle certain state installations from the hands of their perceived opponents. In the wake of an Akufo Addo led government, it is safe to say that, such sentiments have been curbed and not allowed to fester as has been previously witnessed in some governments past. The President in speaking to the nation has been firm and precise in affirming his beliefs to protect every person within our jurisdiction and called on the relevant state institutions to deal decisively to any person(s) who acted contrary to the law including members of his party.
It is also safe to say that, this government has remained the most engaged and accountable in its 100 days of work. We the Ghanaian people, in the style of ministerial nomination and appointments, witnessed a novelty in the openness of the process. The Ghanaian people were presented with the highlights of the credentials of the various ministerial nominees by the President. The President also took pains to communicate the reasoning behind the realignments of their respective portfolios, especially, with regards to some of the ministries, it afforded us with the opportunity to appreciate the vision of the government in clearer terms. This singular action has enhanced the engagement between the seat of government and the people in whom they hold those position in trust.
In keeping to his promise of good governance, the President has in a few days past, issued through a press briefing a fiat against the purchase of government vehicles by public officers. This practice over the years has been a pain on the neck of successive governments and a burden on the national purse. Such a policy is a good measure to ensure discipline with respect to the capital expenditure of government and the abuse of public privileges by public officials.
The President has shown fidelity to his commitment to fighting corruption and running a transparent and accountable government that will inure to the collective benefit of our people. He has since his ascension to the high office kept to reminding his appointees of the reasons why the Ghanaian people gave him such an overwhelming mandate.
For him, such a mandate places a higher burden of responsibility on his shoulder to be able to serve the nation with dignity, honesty and integrity – a quintessential trait of his that cannot even be extinguished by the flames of his fiercest critics.
The creation of a Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of Procurements is one of the many means the President intends to check corruption and ensure value for money with respect to all major projects within his government. It is trite knowledge that, procurement, is one of the major avenues for engaging in acts of corruption.
Relatively, the security situation in the country has seen tremendous improvement but for the emergence and activities of some of the vigilante groups, notable among which is the ‘delta force’. A situation I believe my readers are familiar with as a matter of public knowledge.
What is more worthy of note, however, is how the government has handled the situation. The President has in no uncertain terms restored the people's confidence in law enforcement agencies as he continuously calls on them to deliver on their duties with neither fear nor favor. Gradually, we are moving away from the era where government stayed away from prosecuting its own who commit crimes against the state for political expediency.
At the turn of a 100 days into the governance of the President who was elected by an overwhelming mandate of the people of Ghana, we could not have had it better, save for a few. We are witnesses to the demonstrated actions of a poised to deliver, accountable and transparent, and a firm yet decisive government.
The finesse of delivery in a 100 days grants us surety to the depth of plans in rollout to better the lots of all Ghanaians.
Yet, as with all great plans and intentions, there is still a need for the participation and the "can-do" attitude of all well-meaning Ghanaians to take their parts as natural parts of an organism, but also, as fellow team members in combined efforts to build the nation and to constructively keep this government on its toes in its agenda to develop this country for God, Country and the kind judgment of posterity. For this is our duty as citizens and as well-meaning people participating in the creation our future.
We do not say this with the hope that the President and his government achieves perfection, but that, they together with the rest of Ghanaians achieve a Ghana capable of fulfilling the darest of dreams of its people both young and old in freedom and prosperity.
By: Chief Obosu Mohammed
NPP Member, Mfantseman