Business News of 2014-01-09

Mahama promises better times

In spite of the economic hardship in Ghana, President John Dramani Mahama says “2014 will mark the new transformation of Ghana.”

Currently, the government, through the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), has increased utility tariffs, which is negatively affecting the creation of jobs.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) has been upped by 2.5 percent while other tax components have been increased, but the President is ‘upbeat’ about prospects for 2014.

Addressing journalists at the Flagstaff House, Accra to mark the 1st Anniversary of his inauguration as President, Mr Mahama said he had put in “solid” measures to ensure that 2014 becomes meaningful.

“For 2014, I’m very positive. I’m upbeat that it’s going to begin the transformation of our country. It’s going to mark the opening of new doors of opportunities for us…Governance is a difficult business. Difficult decisions need to be taken and the mark of leadership is to take difficult decisions when they need to be taken. And that’s what I’ve done.”

Asked about the government’s plans to reduce the impact of the upward adjustment of tariffs and a possible freeze on wages of public sector workers on Ghanaians, President Mahama said that the decision was “not easy to take” but said it was in the best interest of the economy.

In trying to explain the upward adjustment in electricity tariffs, he said the government had to take some tough decisions because of the deficit in the energy sector.

“The government had to put in more energy generation but government does not have the investment to be able to do it and so we have to bring in the private sector to do it.”

Freebies

Urging the public to bit the bullet, the President said that “you cannot continue to subsidize. You cannot continue to give freebies when you don’t have the income to be able to support it. And so, that’s the challenge we’re faced with. We have a deficit. Our expenditure exceeds our income at the beginning of 2013 by 12%. We were spending more 12% of GDP every year than we earn. And so you need to balance out your expenditure and income…You must increase your income, and cut down expenditure.”

“If I could make energy cheap, I would do so. If I could give out free fuel to the general public, I would do so. Governance is a very difficult business but because we are taking good decisions, we are going to benefit in the long run.”

Energy Sector

The President said the government’s target of adding about 5,000 megawatts of energy to the national grid was attainable because of the abundant gas infrastructure, which would soon be completed.

“In the past there was no gas infrastructure and my predecessors had to rely on expensive crude oil to power the energy sector but once we have the infrastructure available, we have to make good use of it.”

Rail Transport

The President said, “It is my hope that this year we cut sod for the beginning of the reconstruction of the railways in this country.

He said due to the lack of infrastructure for railway transport, every cargo had to be transported via the roads and that affected the country’s limited road infrastructure.

“If you have to convey containers and there is a machine in the container that is heavier than the load limit, are you going to cut the machine in half and put half aside, you cannot do that…And so when these cargoes are carried on the roads they destroy the roads.

The President said government would focus on Western and Eastern corridor rail lines.

If the railways are reconstructed and the Boankra Inland Port in the Ashanti Region is activated, it would give importers from Burkina Faso and other areas easy access to pick their cargo instead of driving all the way to Tema.

He said the government had not abandoned its plans to create employment opportunities for the teaming youth, noting that the building of schools and roads and port expansion projects had been designed to provide employment for the people.

Source: Daily Guide
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