Ghana’s per capita income is $600 -JAK
Economy On Path Of Growth President J. A. Kufuor has stated that the national economy is on the path of steady growth as a result of prudent macroeconomic policies and disciplined financial management.
He said but for the uncertainty surrounding crude oil, “we should be doing better still,”adding, “This is why we must continue to pursue our positive policies which, in spite of obvious setbacks, are resulting in the achievement of our collective vision and aspiration.”
President Kufuor, who was addressing journalists at the Castle, Osu, in Accra yesterday, quoted the International Monetary Fund(IMF) as acknowledging that Ghana's per capita income now stood at $600, up from $450 last two years and $270 in 2000.
The President's“Meet-the-Press,”encounter which was the third since his assumption of power in 2001, was attended by the Vice-President,Alhaji Aliu Mahama,and a host of Ministers of State.
He recounted a number of successes chalked by the economy, saying that inflation had declined to 15.7 per cent in June this year, while the Bank of Ghana's prime rate had been reduced to 16.5 per cent.
However, he said although the commercial banks were responding to the reduction in the prime rate,their quoting of between 23 per cent and 28 per cent as lending rates did not reflect the decline in prime rate.
President Kufuor said the government was eager to ensure that the lending rate further reduced to 15 per cent to enhance the provision of credit to the private sector for employment generation.
He described the reactivation of the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO), which was closed down two years ago,as being the result of fiscal discipline, stability of the economy and the cedi, among other macroeconomic gains.
On the West African Gas Pipeline Project, President Kufuor announced that by December next year, gas would flow from Nigeria to Ghana for industrial and domestic use,pointing out that “the impact on our energy and fuel cost and the economy as a whole will be dramatic.”
He hinted that a new oil refinery,expected to be about three times the capacity of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), would soon be established in Takoradi.
“This is also where AP Moller Maersk Company is proposing to establish the first ever container terminal hub to service the whole of West Africa.This should generate employment and revive Sekondi Takoradi,”he added.
President Kufuor said the President's Special Initiatives (PSIs)had yielded positive results and indicated that China had expressed interest to import shea butter and cassava from Ghana,while exports from the AGOA facility had quadrupled.
On cocoa,he said the current 650,000 tonnes production level was impressive,with the price being better than that of last year.
President Kufuor noted that massive construction and rehabilitation works in the road sector were unprecedented in the country's history.
He expressed concern, however,that despite improvement in the sector,the spate of accidents on the roads was alarming,blaming the situation on carelessness on the part of road users, poor maintenance of vehicles and unacceptable behaviours on the roads.
The President, therefore, directed the Inspector General of Police(IGP)to intensify road traffic controls and expedite action against motor traffic offenders to restore sanity on the roads.
“However, this fight is for all of us.I entreat road users to be more careful,” he advised.President Kufuor called on all Ghanaians to support the National Petroleum Authority (NPA)in the discharge of its mandate while pledging the government's support to TOR to ensure greater efficiency in its management.
On the controversial Airport West Hospitality project, he said CHRAJ, which was investigaing the controversy,“has my full co-operation in going about its legitimate mandate under our Constitution”.
“It is hoped that all those concerned with the establishment of the truth in this matter,will cooperate with the commission in its work,” he added.
The President urged Ghanaians to register massively for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).He said the health sector was witnessing dramatic changes and mentioned the Korle-Bu, Komfo Anokye,the 37 Military hospitals and other regional and district hospitals and clinics as those undergoing rehabilitation and refurbishment.
President Kufuor assured health workers that within the limited resources,the government would try to improve their conditions and,therefore,pleaded with them to exercise restraint.
He noted efforts by the government to improve infrastructure at all levels of education, particularly addressing the accommodation problems in tertiary institutions.
President Kufuor announced that from the beginning of the next academic year,the government would implement the Capitation Grant Policy,which would ensure that no Ghanaian child was left out of school for lack of funds.
He said the government would spend about ¢113 billion in 138 districts to reduce the burden on parents as far as the payment of fees was concerned.
The Minister of Information,Mr Dan Botwe,said the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law and efforts to pass the Right to Information and the Whistle Blower's bills into law were some of the measures taken by the government to ensure that the media had all the freedom necessary to operate without fear or favour.
He announced that with effect from next week the “Meet-the-Press” series would be re-introduced,with the various sector ministers taking their turn.
Mr Botwe said the innovation this time was that the event for regional ministers would take place at the regional level,while district chief executives would also meet the press at the district level to explain issues to the media.