Mahama Speaks Tough On Economic Crises
By Samuel Boadi
President John Dramani Mahama says his administration has done its best in managing the country’s economy under the current circumstances.
In a speech to open the four-day National Economic Forum, which started yesterday at Akosombo in the Eastern Region, the President said every government that Ghana has had over the last decade has had to address various challenges.
“I want you to bear in mind that despite these challenges, we have managed to steer the economy to some of its highest growth rates on record.
“As a government, we have done and will continue to do our best to deal with the aforementioned challenges. Some of the measures that we adopted have imposed unintended hardships but these hardships are temporary and will not last beyond the short-term. Already the positive results are beginning to show in the form of a slowdown in the growth of the wage bill, and other indicators against the background of a relatively strong economic growth.”
“In 2013, growth was a respectable 7.1%. That same year, the growth rate for the world economy was 3.0%; the growth rate for emerging economies was 4.7%; the growth rate for sub-Saharan Africa average was 4.9%, and the growth rate for the advanced economies averagely was 1.3%. In the medium to long term, we expect to raise this to an average annual growth rate that is above 8.0%.
President Mahama also described the 2013 growth of 7.1% as impressive against a backdrop of reduced commodity prices for Ghana’s major exports – gold and cocoa – an energy crisis triggered by disruption of gas supplies from the West African Gas Pipeline.
Take on wage bill
Mentioning that the wage bill (excluding arrears) as a share of total tax revenue declined steadily from 65% at the end of 2012 to 57% at the end of 2013, he said: “We are however still far from achieving the target spelt out in the West African Monetary Union convergence criteria of 35%.”
His definition of the challenges
Explaining further, he said, “It implies that they will require the sort of solutions that we have gathered here today to create solutions that have been subjected to the scrutiny of many; solutions that have been shaped by the voices, the hands and the vision of many.
Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur, MC for the event, in an earlier address, said the idea of a National Economic Forum was developed during the President’s preparation for the State of the Nation Address this year when he met three groups of Ghanaian business private sector participants to discuss how the macro-economic challenges and Government’s plans for resolving them were impacting their businesses.
“We probed them about what Government could do to help their operations and how the private sector could create jobs for young Ghanaians. These are private sector operators, overwhelmingly Ghanaian, who addressed their problems in the national context. It became obvious that a general conversation and not just a dialogue was needed and would benefit from the inclusion of social partners of political organizations traditional authority and all facets of Ghanaian society.”
He noted: “The main purpose of this forum is how to turn the short-term challenges that we face into an opportunities for the future, for achieving the transformation of the economy in the medium term. The short-term measures to restore fiscal balance were first unveiled by Finance Minister in Parliament on April 1.
“We have further developed this brief and refined it to address the longer term opportunities for the economy.”
At the request of the President, we have circulated the latest version of this home-grown plan to the group of chairpersons and facilitators for this meeting.
“This confirms that the short-term actions have been developed and we are determined that these short-term considerations should not undermine considerations for the economy’s longer term prospects.”