“We have done much more than we inherited; we are creating conditions for young people to have hope again, and we are determined to do more. Things are working in Ghana and Ghana is surely changing,” he stated.The President, who was delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on the floor of Parliament yesterday, conceded that in spite of the achievements of the government, it still had some more to do to place the country on the pedestal the administration wanted.
This year’s SONA, which is his fourth since assuming power in January 2017, was boycotted by the Minority, who walked out of the Chamber of Parliament immediately the Speaker announced that the President was about to address the House.
The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, together with his Majority counterpart, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, had joined the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, to welcome and bring into the chamber President Akufo-Addo, only for the Minority, all dressed in black, to walk out, with Mr Iddrisu leading the way.
Recounting his first SONA three years ago, the President said he had told the House that he had been elected by the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians not to complain but to get things done, noting that that was a promise he was determined to discharge.
He justified his insistence that the country was in good health by mentioning some of the things his administration had fixed, including a broken economy, the introduction of free senior high school (SHS) education, the revival of the National Health Insurance Scheme, revamping the agricultural sector and the sanitisation of the banking industry.
He said the government’s industrial transformation was on course, digitising the economy was in progress and Ghana continued to be at peace.
He said in three years, the government had reduced inflation to 7.8 per cent in January this year, the lowest since 1992, and the economy had recorded fiscal deficit of below five per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the first time in over 40 years, a feat which, he said, had been achieved for three years in a row.
President Akufo-Addo said for the first time in over 20 years, the balance of trade had recorded a surplus for three consecutive years and that the current account deficit was shrinking, interest rates were declining and the average annual rate of depreciation of the cedi was at its lowest for any first-term government in the Fourth Republic.
“Our economic growth has rebounded to place Ghana among the fastest-growing economies in the world for three years in a row at an annual average of seven per cent, up from 3.4 per cent in 2016, the lowest in nearly three decades,” he added.
He noted that the international investor community had recognised the developments, culminating in Ghana becoming the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in West Africa.
President Akufo-Addo said the sovereign credit rating agencies had upgraded the country’s ratings and also improved the outlook for this year, notwithstanding the fact that it was an election year.
“This is a massive vote of confidence in the current management of the economy, as best illustrated by Ghana’s successful issuance of the longest-dated Eurobond ever issued by a sub-Saharan African country, with investors placing $15 billion of orders for Ghana’s 41-year Eurobond,” he added.
He said the seven-year bond attracted the lowest coupon rates ever at 6.375 per cent, compared with the 9.25 per cent the country had to pay for a similar Eurobond issue in 2016, adding: “No wonder Bloomberg, earlier this week, highlighted Ghana as the top candidate for an economic leap in Africa.”
“This expression of confidence is important because it will lead to enhanced investments in our economy and the accompanying greater numbers of jobs,” he said.
Dr Bawumia’s presentation
President Akufo-Addo said Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia had, at a forum in Kumasi, gone to great lengths to use data and his customary fact-checking to prove that 78 per cent of the promises the New Patriotic Party (NPP) solemnly made to the people had been or were in the process of being fulfilled.
“There has, so far, been no factual challenge to his compelling testimony,” the President opined.