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MESSAGE ON THE STATE OF THE NATION BY THE PRESIDENT
OF THE REPUBLIC,
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO,
ON TUESDAY, 9TH MARCH 2021, AT PARLIAMENT HOUSE,
It is always good to be back in Parliament, and to discharge the duty, in
accordance with Article 67 of the Constitution, of delivering to the House
a Message on the State of the Nation. I am particularly delighted as this
Message is the first of my 2nd term, the validity of which was unanimously
upheld last week in a well-reasoned and excellent ruling by a sevenmember
panel of the Supreme Court, presided over by the Chief Justice,
on 4th March 2021.
In accordance with protocol and convention, it is good to see that First
Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, Second
Lady Samira Bawumia, Spouse of Mr. Speaker, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah,
and Justices of the Supreme Court, re-elected Chairperson Nana Otuo
Siriboe II, and Members of the Council of State, the new Chief of Defence
Staff Vice Admiral Seth Amoamah, the Inspector General of Police, Mr.
James Oppong-Boanuh, and Service Chiefs, are all present, as are the
Dean and Members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Let me use this opportunity to congratulate, once again, the Speaker of
Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, on becoming
Speaker of the 8th Parliament. His has been a distinguished career, having
entered the 1st Parliament of the 4th Republic in 1993, and I came to meet
him in the 2nd Parliament in 1997. He has been Majority Leader, Minister
of State, one of the “three wisemen” in a previous Government, 2nd
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, and now finds himself in this elevated
position of being the third most important person in the governance
structure of our country. It is wholly appropriate that, at such a critical
period in the history of our country, my senior in Parliament and I should
work together for the wellbeing of the Ghanaian people.
Mr. Speaker, I wish you well in the discharge of the duties of this high
Mr. Speaker, in 2017, I was here for the first time as President of the
Republic, having won the election of 2016, and having inherited a faltering
economy and an expectant people. Between that time and 2020, I sought to deliver on the mandate reposed on me and my party, the New Patriotic Party, and gain, once again, the confidence of the Ghanaian people. It was by no means a straight-forward task. We were able to deliver on most of our 2016 promises. In spite of the considerable challenges we confronted, and the setbacks we encountered, we were confident our record in office would put us in good stead before the electorate, and earn us a second term in office, which it did.
It means that the reason for which the Ghanaian people went to the polls on 7th December, i.e to seek an improvement in their living standards and the rapid transformation of the economy, must continue in earnest. It means that the clarion call of “Four More for Nana and the NPP to do more for you” must be realised, and I intend to do so.
The commencement of this process has been facilitated by members of this House, and I am thankful to you for enabling Government to be duly constituted. The expeditious and thorough manner in which my Ministers were scrutinised by the Appointments Committee, and the approval by the full House of each of the twenty-nine (29) substantive Ministers, for me, was an indication of the collective determination of both sides of the House, with mutual regard for each other, to work together for the good of the country. This is what the Ghanaian people demand from us by insisting on virtual parity in the House between the two major parties of our country. The realisation of the Ghana Project, and not the attainment of narrow partisan interests, must be the guiding principle of the business to be conducted in the House.
As President of the Republic, I give my firm commitment to this end, and I assure Mr Speaker and the Legislature of the co-operation of the Executive in this endeavour. As I indicated in my acceptance speech on the night of 9th December 2020, now is the time for each and every one of us, irrespective of our political affiliations, to unite, join hands, stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and work hard to place Ghana where she deserves to be.
Mr. Speaker, in the face of a global pandemic that has ravaged lives and livelihoods in all parts of the world, we cannot afford to pursue interests that will leave our nation and its citizens the poorer for it. COVID-19 has impacted heavily on economic activities, created uncertainty, weakened
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global growth conditions, whilst putting undue strain on already weak and fragile health systems, particularly in developing countries.
Mr. Speaker, between 2017 and the first quarter of 2020, we had made considerable gains in the management of the national economy, where we witnessed annual average GDP growth of seven percent (7%), single digit inflation, reduced fiscal deficits with three consecutive years of primary surpluses, a relatively stable exchange rate, a significant improvement in the current account with three consecutive years of trade surpluses, strong foreign exchange reserve buffers, markedly reduced lending rates, and appreciable job creation.
According to the COVID-19 Business Tracker survey, conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to job losses, with many Ghanaian businesses and firms being forced to cut costs by reducing staff hours, cutting wages, and, in some cases, laying off workers. This survey, again, showed that about seven hundred and seventy thousand (770,000) workers had their wages reduced, and about forty-two thousand (42,000) employees were laid off during the three-week partial lockdown imposed on the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Areas and their contiguous districts, Tema and Kasoa. Government, however, succeeded in protecting the jobs and incomes of all public sector workers.
Indeed, the cost of COVID-19 has been enormous. Our overall economic growth rate for 2020 was revised downwards from 6.8% to 0.9%. The non-oil economy was also revised from 6.7% to 1.6%. Revenue shortfall was estimated at GH¢13.5 billion, with additional expenditures related to stemming the tide of COVID-19 estimated at GH¢11.8 billion, with the combined effect amounting to GH¢25.3 billion, or 6.6% of GDP.
The resultant fiscal deficit for 2020 was, thus, revised from 4.7% of GDP to 11.4% of GDP. This was done to reflect the impact of the pandemic. The fiscal responsibility rule of keeping a deficit within a threshold of 5% of GDP and a positive primary balance for every year was suspended in 2020 to enable fiscal operations accommodate the impact of the pandemic.
I indicated at the time that we know what to do to bring the economy back to life, what we do not know how to do is to bring people back to life. That is why Government did not hesitate to institute measures to
protect the lives and livelihoods of Ghanaians, even if it was to the temporary detriment of our much sought-after fiscal stability.
The formulation and implementation of the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, tracing, testing, treatment, waiver of personal income tax and provision of an additional fifty percent (50%) basic salary allowance to healthcare workers, expanding the capacities of laboratories to increase COVID-19 testing, establishment of isolation centres in all regions and districts, fumigation of markets and schools, provision of food packages and hot meals for residents in areas affected by the partial lockdown, provision of free water for all households, provision of free electricity for lifeline consumers and a fifty percent (50%) discount for all other consumers,
reduction in the Communication Service Tax (CST) from nine percent (9%) to five percent (5%), the institution of a seven hundred and fifty million cedi (GH¢750 million) loan facility for micro, small and medium enterprises through the CAPBUS Initiative, and the provision of a two billion cedi (GH¢2 billion) guarantee facility to support large businesses, such as schools and pharmaceutical companies, are amongst the several measures put in place by Government to cushion Ghanaians from the impact of the pandemic.
Support has also been forthcoming from the Bank of Ghana, under its
brilliant leadership, which has lowered the Monetary Policy Rate by one hundred and fifty (150) basis points to 14.5 percent, reduced the Primary Reserve Requirement from ten percent (10%) to eight percent (8%), reduced the Capital Adequacy Requirement from thirteen percent (13%) to eleven-point five percent (11.5%), and reduced interest rates based on the Ghana Reference Rate by two hundred (200) basis points.
The Ghana Revenue Authority has also extended the dates for filing of taxes from four (4) months to six (6) months after the end of the basis year, issued a waiver on VAT, National Health Insurance Levy and GETFund Levy on donations of equipment and goods for fighting the pandemic, waived income taxes on Third-Tier Pension withdrawals, and permitted the deduction of contributions and donations towards COVID-19 as allowable expense for tax purposes.
Mr. Speaker, my Government found the resources to cushion the impact of the pandemic because we are good managers of the economy, and we are good protectors of the public purse.
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Mr. Speaker, the pandemic has exposed the need to expedite the process of moving Ghana to a situation beyond aid. That is why Government has developed and is currently implementing the one hundred-billion-cedi (GH¢100 billion) Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ Programme to transform, revitalise and modernise our economy, and return it to high and sustained growth for the next three years. The key projects under the CARES Programme include:
a) supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into commercial farming;
b) building the country’s light manufacturing sector;
c) developing engineering/machine tools and ICT/digital economy industries;
d) fast tracking digitalisation;
e) developing Ghana’s housing & construction industry;
f) establishing Ghana as a Regional Hub;
g) reviewing and optimising the implementation of Government flagships and key programmes; and
h) creating jobs for young people, and expanding opportunities for the vulnerable in society, including persons with disabilities.
The establishment of the National Development Bank, under the Ghana CARES programme, is expected to provide support to businesses in Ghana. Government expects economic activity, which has already picked up, to do so even further, following the ongoing vaccination exercise, and the easing of restrictions put in place to curb the effects of the disease. We expect GDP growth to rebound strongly this year to nearly five percent (5%), above the IMF’s 2021 January projection of 3.2% growth for Sub-Saharan Africa for 2021.
The medium-term outlook supported by the implementation of the Ghana CARES Programme is bright. We are confident that, together, we will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with a stronger and more resilient economy.
Mr. Speaker, if we are to oversee the rebirth and growth of our economy, our people must be healthy, and not succumb to COVID-19. On 24th February, Government secured the first batch of vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility. The vaccination campaign is currently ongoing, with two hundred and sixty-two thousand, three hundred and thirty-five (262,335) number of Ghanaians receiving the first dose of the vaccines as at 10:30am this morning. The target is to vaccinate twenty million
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Ghanaians, and Government is working hard towards realising this goal. We remain on course to taking delivery of some seventeen million, six hundred thousand vaccine doses by June, with more to come in the course of the year.
I want to urge Members of the House to lend their voices to the public education campaign currently ongoing with regards to the vaccination programme. The vaccine, together with strict compliance with the safety protocols, is what will allow us to open up our country again, and embark on the quest to restore normalcy to our lives and livelihoods.
Government is also mindful of a problem associated with vaccinations, and that is how to dispose of used PPEs, vials, needles and syringes that are being used in the vaccination exercise. Government is collaborating with the private sector to establish fourteen (14) medical waste treatment facilities across the country to help address, once and for all, the safe disposal of medical waste.
The pandemic has emphasized the need to expand access to healthcare for every Ghanaian, irrespective of his or her location, and I want to thank, again and again, all our frontline healthcare workers for their devotion to duty and sense of patriotism.
The great amount of work undertaken by Government has meant that we presently have some three hundred and seven (307) functioning and well-equipped ambulances under the One-Constituency-One-Ambulance
Initiative, supported by a state-of-the-art, digitised Command Centre to field emergency calls and to dispatch ambulances. Last year, thirty-three (33) major health projects were approved for implementation at a cost of eight hundred and ninety million euros (€890 million). Key amongst them are the Koforidua Regional Hospital, Tema General Hospital, the Nephrology and Urology Centre at Korle-Bu, Redevelopment of the Effia Nkwanta Hospital into a Teaching Hospital, and the Construction of a new Regional Hospital at Agona Nkwanta in the Western Region.
As announced last year, Agenda 111, which will see to the construction of 100-bed District Hospitals in one hundred and one (101) Districts with no hospitals, seven (7) Regional Hospitals for the new Regions, including one for the Western Region, the construction of two (2) new psychiatric hospitals for the Middle Belt and Northern Belt, respectively, and the rehabilitation of Effia-Nkwanta Hospital in the Western Region, is on
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course. Construction of some of these hospitals has commenced, and will continue without interruption.
Agenda 111, the largest ever investment in healthcare infrastructure in our history, is part of a massive vision for Ghana’s healthcare sector, the realisation of which will lead to Ghana becoming a Centre of Medical Excellence and a destination for medical tourism, and will also see us achieve the following:
- each of the sixteen (16) regional hospitals will be designated as a Centre of Excellence in the different specialties of medicine. For example, orthopedic surgery, burns, plastic and reconstructive surgery, breast care centre, fertility centre, neonatology and pediatric centre, neurosurgery and spine centre, stroke center, heart and kidney centre and mental health centre to name a few;
- continuously upgrade our medical curriculum, and continue to train our young doctors and health care professionals in a world class fashion;
- incentivise the private sector to increase capacity to support demand in healthcare delivery; and
- encourage Ghanaian medical experts in the diaspora to collaborate and join hands with us to help build and contribute to the realisation of this noble vision.
The West African region is estimated to reach a population of half a billion people by 2030, by which time this vision would have been realised.
Government will continue to invest in the health sector, and will continue to recruit more health professionals, in addition to the one hundred thousand recruited in my first term for our health facilities. Electronic medical records system (E-Health) deployment is currently underway, following its implementation in key health facilities like Korle-Bu, Komfo-Anokye, Ho, Tamale and Cape Coast Teaching Hospitals, and several district hospitals in the Central Region. Upper East, Upper West, and Bono Regional Hospitals will go live on the e-health platform in five (5) days
Mr. Speaker, when it was needed most, at the height of the pandemic, the ingenuity and creativity of the Ghanaian shone through, which caught
- the attention of the world. When PPEs were being sold on the world market at extortionist prices, largely because demand outstripped supply, we began producing them in Ghana. Scrubs, medical gowns, sanitisers, masks, and gloves, all of these essential to the fight against COVID-19, were produced in Ghana. In total, fourteen million, six hundred thousand pieces of personal protective equipment have, so far, been produced domestically for health workers, students, teaching and non-teaching staff of tertiary and secondary educational institutions.
We are determined to make our own things, and the Akufo-Addo government will continue with the agenda of rapid industrialisation, with the aim of transforming the structure of the Ghanaian economy from one dependent on the production and export of raw materials to a value-added, industrialised economy. Under the “One-District-One-Factory” (1D1F) initiative, two hundred and thirty-two (232) projects are at various stages of implementation. These include seventy-six (76) operating as 1D1F companies, whilst one hundred and twelve (112), including five (5) medium size agro-processing factories, and sixty-three (63) Common User Facilities are under construction.
The Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC) has made good progress on the bauxite exploitation programme that will drive our industrial transformation agenda. We are in the final stage of an open and transparent investor engagement process, and are in negotiations to select strategic investors to partner GIADEC for the bauxite mining and alumina refinery projects. The selected partners will be announced
imminently. Similarly, the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC) has been set up, and has begun its work in earnest.
We have succeeded in attracting major global vehicle manufacturers, under the automotive development policy, to set up in Ghana. So far, Volkswagen has produced one thousand, one hundred and sixty-seven (1,167) vehicles, SinoTruk two hundred and seventy-six (276) vehicles, and our own Kantanka has produced four hundred (400) vehicles. The Japanese conglomerate, Nissan, has also started the assembly of vehicles in the country.
Mr. Speaker, our nation’s food resilience has been severely tested over the past year. The closure of borders, in the midst of the pandemic, meant that we have had to depend largely on food we produced. We have fared
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well under the circumstances, largely as a result of the bold policies implemented by Government since 2017, such as the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, the 1-Village-1-Dam initiative, 1-District-1-Warehouse policy, establishment of greenhouse villages, revitalisation of the cocoa rehabilitation programme, and the reactivation of our aquaculture industry. I am happy to inform the House that, during this period of the pandemic, we have experienced no food shortages in the country.
There have been increases in maize and rice yields by one hundred and ten percent (110%) and forty-eight percent (48%) respectively. We have, for the first time in a long while, become a net exporter of food, as opposed to the days of importation of tomatoes and plantain. Indeed, in 2019, we exported some one hundred and forty thousand metric tons (140,000 MT) to our neighbours. We are determined to take full advantage of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to produce more in Ghana, to sell more to Africa and beyond, as we move Ghana Beyond Aid.
The Agreement for a Strategic Partnership between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire has bound our two countries in even closer intimacy, especially in the cocoa sector. We have succeeded in aligning the cocoa production and marketing policies of the two countries, and ensured that we do not continue to be victims or pawns of a global cocoa industry that is dependent on the toil and effort of our farmers. A new trading mechanism has been implemented, and has ensured that a new cost item of four hundred United States dollars (US$400.00) per ton, for every cocoa sold by the two nations, effective from the 2020/2021 season, is paid to our farmers.
Through the establishment of the Tree Crops Development Authority, Government is determined to end the over-reliance on cocoa, and develop other cash crops such as cashew, cotton, mango, oil palm, rubber, and shea.
Government remains committed to the completion of the mini-harbours and landing sites, which are at different stages of completion, in Senya Beraku, Dixcove, Elmina, Moree, Winneba, Gomoa Fetteh, Teshie, Keta, Mumford and Jamestown.
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