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Business News of Tuesday, 13 July 2021


FULL TEXT: Ken Ofori-Atta’s address at signing ceremony of World Bank Financing Agreement

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

Signing Ceremony of a World Bank Financing Agreement Draft Intervention by Ken Ofori-Atta Minister for Finance, Ghana


The Country Director of the World Bank,

Colleague Ministers

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning. I am honoured and indeed grateful for the opportunity to address this most distinguished gathering. We are alive at a turning point in human history.

The global coronavirus pandemic has had a life-changing impact on all of us since it was first discovered in December 2019. Beyond its economic consequences, we have witnessed significant social disruption and hardship on a scale previously unforeseen in our lifetimes.

Last week, we "achieved" a grim milestone of 180 million infections and more than 4 million deaths globally. We have lost over 130,000 lives on our Continent, and an extra 40 million people have been pushed into situations best described as "extreme poverty" in the space of a year.

Indeed, the pandemic has brought to the forefront the need to work together in the spirit of shared sacrifice and service.

Ladies & Gentlemen, the shape and speed of the global recovery will be significantly influenced by our joint determination to forge lasting partnerships between nations, multilateral institutions and the private sector, undergirded by economies of mutuality, and not power blocks and resource haul from Africa, to create a fairer and more sustainable world, by people, partnerships and the planet being the ultimate beneficiary.

To build back better and greener, we must reorient our approach and share a moral sense of duty to act wherever and whenever the pandemic brings about deficient social outcomes, as has been exemplified by our collective show in vaccine inequity.

Without this, we are now staring down the possibility of a "lost decade" characterized by sub-optimal socio economic outcomes across Africa due to the nature of global financial architecture, trade dynamics, lack of a robust governance and leadership institutions on the continent on equality and infrastructure Setting up the Case for Multilateral Partners to do more for the Continent.

Ladies & Gentlemen, across government, our focus through this pandemic has remained on not leaving anyone behind. In my speech at the Springboard Foundation Youth Dialogues, I set out our challenge.

We must give the unemployed youth the skills to find a job, and we must not only lift young people out of poverty, but we must also transform their horizons, aspirations and hopes – and eliminate this singing sense of despondency and poverty of ambition, through helping them get the skills they need for better jobs and giving them a chance to fulfil their potential.

We should be clear of the problem; 75% of Ghana’s population are below 35 years and 33%, between 15 and 35 years. 6. It is for this reason why over the last twelve months:

a. The government supported the return of Senior High School students with GHS 1.2 billion to ensure their safety and continuity.

b. 1.5 million vulnerable citizens were supported with cash grants under the LEAP programme

c. 2.7 million people were provided with cooked meals during the three-week COVID-19 lockdown; and

d. 3.3 million children were provided one meal per day (compared to 69,000 in 2005)e. The NBSSI, now GEA, disbursed almost GHS 500 million to 292,600 Ghanaian SMEs across various sectors of the economy, ultimately supporting over 738,341 MSME jobs.

Only in this way will we drive up social mobility, the great force for equality in dynamic market economies. Through the pandemic, we must continue working towards laying the foundations for an enabling welfare state - one that helps people help themselves and restores dignity to the lives of our fellow Ghanaians.

Undoubtedly, the government cannot do this alone. We need deeper engagements with our multilateral partners to facilitate the provision of the requisite financial and technical support to invest in human capital, build physical infrastructure, and comprehensively tackle development challenges that inhibit the SDG goals' attainment.

At its very core, this will require the availability of bold, innovative financial support to support critical interventions in response to COVID-19.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the signing of this Financing Agreements today forms an essential part of the Government's drive to build back better and greener.

I want to thank the World Bank, the IDA and the team from the Ministry of Finance for their immense contributions and support not only with combatting the pandemic but also furthering the government's transformative agenda.

Let me truly express Government’s appreciation for the speed and swiftness with which the World Bank team led by Pierre have responded since April 2020.

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government accessed: a. US$100 million from the World Bank (including US$65 million from the ongoing Greater Accra Resilient & Integrated Development (GARID) Project, b. US$35 million from the Fast Track COVID-19 Facility); andc. US$130 million Additional Financing from the World Bank in April and November 2020 respectively to support the implementation of the COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan.

Today, we sign this Financing Agreement worth Two Hundred Million United States Dollars (US$200.00 million) between the Republic of Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group, detailed as the Second Additional Financing for the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project (COVID-19 AF 2).

The objective of the project is to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19, as well as strengthen national systems for public health preparedness across the country;

Indeed, this Second Additional Financing of US$200.0 million being signed today will bring the COVID-19 support from the World Bank to US$430.00 million. Funds which will continue to go a long way towards implementing a robust COVID-19 vaccination programme, strengthen the health system for large scale vaccines deployment and widen both the scale and scope of ongoing social welfare protection programmes.

My profound gratitude goes to the World Bank for their continued support towards realizing H.E Nana Akufo-Addo's vision of using the pandemic to create a modernized, competitive and resilient economy where each citizen can hope, aspire and reach their fullest potential.

As we advance, I hope to see additional collaborations, partnerships, and substantial resources from the World Bank towards implementing policy initiatives under the Ghana CARES programme.

Specifically, targeted support towards enhancing food security, developing local manufacturing capabilities, and optimizing ongoing flagships and strategic programmes.

Our work doesn't end here. We must demonstrate our united front and commitment to rebuilding our communities. With a joint determination, I believe we can continue to make a valuable contribution towards funding Ghana' structural transformation. That is our task, our challenge and our opportunity.

Thank you, and God Bless You All.

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