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Opinions of Sunday, 18 November 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Bimpeh

Ghana is working again; thank God!

There has arguably never been any government in the history of our independence and democracy like the current NPP government.

Elected on the back of an intensive and a well fought election to sell the ideas of prosperity and jobs for all Ghanaians contained in a 51-page catalogue manifesto.

Led by the dynamic leadership of his Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo whose vision for Ghana is an ‘’optimistic, self-confident and prosperous nation with a strong and thriving democratic society in which mutual trust and economic opportunities exist for all, irrespective of their background’’.

The achievement of the current NPP government in 22 months in office has been mind-blowing to say the least, well to the admiration of its peers, international partners, and most citizens of Ghana. It makes you wonder what on earth past governments were up to during their terms in office. This is a signal of hope for the people of Ghana.

With lightning speed the present government has worked extremely hard to fulfil promises made to the citizens of Ghana through strengthening existing pluralist political institutions and the creation of a new set of institutions such as the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Ministry of Special Initiatives and Development and the establishment of the Free SHS Secretariat so as to help deliver its manifesto, a promise made to the people of Ghana on which the government was elected.

It is fair to say that in 22 months Ghana has experienced a change and transformation not seen in a while and for those who argue that Ghana is even harder under this current government; I say to them, just think back a few years and don’t forget the hardships which had become normalised and well internalised such as an economy plagued by dumsor-which brought industrial growth to its knees, high interest rates, high inflation, high debt to GDP, low international reserves, crippling IMF conditions, inefficiencies in public procurement processes, varying multiple taxation methods and lack of completion of public sector contracts-with detrimental social effects among others.

Currently, with effective economic management and leadership, the aforementioned is buried with Hades.

As one of the fastest growing economies, Ghana has enjoyed splendid growth at around 7-8% between 2017 and 2018 to the admiration and jealousy of many.

Some key changes in the last 22 months includes, declining interest rates, declining inflation, a reduction in debt to GDP ratio, abolished so called nuisance taxes, a reduction in fraudulent claims on government, a clean-up of the banking sector saving the deposits of 1.2 million Ghanaians at a cost of around GHC 10 billion, an increase in the allowances for national service personnel and the Ghana Armed Forces,increasing beneficiaries on the LEAP programme, declining unemployment rate, removal of ghost names from public pay roll saving Ghana huge sums.

Also, 100,000 NABCO jobs have been created , efficient procurement process has been adopted saving the taxpayer billions of cedis (estimates show GHC1.1 billion between 2017/2018), an improving energy sector, improving inner cities and Zongos, improving national health, declining illiteracy rate, improving infrastructure development, expansion in agricultural sector effectiveness, restoration of teacher trainee allowances, teachers arrears between 2013 and 2016 paid, restoration of nursing trainee allowances, launched digital address system, planting for food and jobs employing over 740,000 Ghanaians according to some reports, implemented insurance package for police personnel, most of NHIS debt cleared, absorbed registration fees for BECE students as part of the free SHS, free SHS for all, creation of Northern, Coastal and Middle Development Authorities to lead developments in those areas with already some impressive results.

Furthermore, energy sector legacy debts have been paid off, abolished 1% special import levy,abolished 5% VAT/NHIL on real estate sales, record industry growth from -0.5% in 2016 to 17-18% in 2017, launched a marine drive tourism and investment project at $1.2billion, a cut in petroleum taxes to 13%, launched national entrepreneurship and innovation plan, launched a 10yr cashew development plan, set aside $20 million for start-ups, set aside $10 million for women entrepreneurs, insurance cover to cover GES staff, automation of audit service, registrar general online business registration, automation of clearing systems at Tema port.

In addition to the above, there has been a record reduction of 71.5% in debt accumulation from 47.4% under the previous government to 13.5% as at November 2017, arrears of school feeding caterers paid, a reduction in ECG tariffs for both individuals and businesses, launched 1D1F, launched 1V1D, police housing infrastructure deal, $2billion Sinohydro infrastructure deal, VW to set up an assembly plant in Ghana, Google to set up its African Artificial Intelligence Centre in Ghana-first in Africa, a new commodity trading exchange set up–first of its kind in our sub-region and many many more.

Best described as a ‘mess’ left over by previous administrations, all the issues Ghana is experiencing now highlight years of bad leadership, decision making, the dangers of ineffective political leadership and thought. The present government’s attempt to sort out this ‘’mess’’ demonstrates a commitment to the execution of a promise made to Ghanaians to deliver jobs, growth and a shared prosperity through enhancing social stratification and social mobility in Ghana.

Many technocrats admire the speed of socio-economic metamorphism taking place in Ghana and for the sceptics, building a prosperous nation involves an initial clean up phase after the effects of bad cataclastic political episodes such as what we have experienced in recent years. This has a huge potential to create millions of jobs.

A huge earning potential and rising income levels will go a long way to expand the bourgeoisie and the middle classes while shrinking the proletariat. A simple but effective solution to reducing poverty and creating an environment of shared prosperity. However, a shared prosperity agenda warrants time as a crucial variable in the success equation.

For such a high performing government, time and support are needed to continue to perform at the same rate and 2019 is definitely a year to look forward to for all Ghanaians.

God bless the NPP: God bless our homeland Ghana.
Education and International Development Specialist based in the UK.

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