General News of Thu, 12 Jan 20176
Lay foundation for change agenda in 100 days
A section of Ghanaians, notably institutions and think tanks, is expecting the government to show clear signs within its first 100 days in office that it is committed to implementing its campaign promises.
While economic think tanks and advocates want the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo administration to make good its promises of cutting taxes and creating an enabling environment for the private sector, other institutions, particularly political think tanks, want the new administration to lay a good foundation on which it will deliver its change agenda on prioritised basis.
The call comes in the wake of numerous promises President Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) made during the election campaign, which translated into an overwhelming vote for the party and the President.
The institutions include the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG).
The first 100 days of the President Akufo-Addo administration began with his inauguration on January 7, 2017.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, the President of the AGI, Mr James Asare-Adjei, said the reclassification of power tariffs to ensure that industry paid the right amount for power should attract the President’s attention in the first 100 days, adding that current tariffs paid by industries were rather too high.
“At the moment, industry is paying more than residential power users and the cost of utility alone is deterring people from venturing into manufacturing, thus making manufacturing non-competitive,” he stated.
Mr Asare-Adjei said AGI would also want to see the new administration make good its intentions to reduce taxes in a bid to create the enabling environment to boost the private sector and the economy.
He said the AGI’s Business Barometer Survey had consistently flagged the multiplicity of taxes as one of the challenges affecting industry and businesses, saying, “We think if the new administration will be able to remove import duties on raw materials, as a matter of urgency, definitely manufacturing would become competitive and increase output.
“We also want to see some of the levies introduced last year, such as the energy sector levy which is affecting our operations, removed,” he noted.
On government borrowing, Mr Asare-Adjei said AGI was looking forward to the reduction in government borrowing, which would result in the lowering of the Bank of Ghana policy rate, now pegged at 25.5 per cent, something he described as about the highest in the world.
The high policy rate, he mentioned, translated into a high cost of borrowing by the private sector and that was affecting businesses adversely.
Mr Asare-Adjei expressed the association’s readiness to work with the new government to achieve the industrialisation objective of the country, especially the promotion of industrial development and private sector growth.
The Chamber of Commerce
For its part, the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry is expecting to see macroeconomic stability, a foundation without which, he said, all policies and promises were likely to fail.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, Mr Mark Badu Aboagye, said although they acknowledged that the first 100 days was too short a period to achieve most of the promises, the government could use the period to give clear indications of fulfilling its promises based on the decisions it would make.
“We want to see clear signs of possible reductions in the cost of credit, policy rate, inflation and interest rate, as well as clear signs to stabilise the local currency.
“The government has clearly stated its position to create the right business environment for the private sector to thrive and we want to see evidence of a solid foundation to that effect in its first 100 days in office,” he said.
Speaking in a separate interview, Mr Aboagye corroborated the expectations of the AGI for the government to cut down on government borrowing to enable funds to move freely to the private sector.
“We are expecting that the first budget that will come out will actually contain fiscal policies that can stabilise the cedi, which started depreciating against some major foreign currencies in early December 2016,” he noted.
The Executive Director of IDEG, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, said it took a lot of preparatory work and prioritisation to succeed as a government. Therefore, IDEG was expecting the new administration to do those preparatory works within its first 100 days.
He added that the crop of appointments the President would make to assist him to carry out the development agenda of the country was critical.
A lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof. Ransford Gyampo, observed that it was important for President Akufo-Addo to use his first 100 days to constitute a strong and competent team at all levels of governance.
“For me, I think it is important for the President to form an optimum-sized government of not more than 50 ministers. This is because a huge government is a drain on the scarce public resources.
“We should not be seeing a case of creating ‘jobs for the boys’, because the margin of victory in the 2016 election shows the goodwill of the masses for the President,” he added.
Prof. Gyampo observed that it would be prudent for the President to tackle the challenges of the country head-on and avoid the tendency to “use those challenges as a cloak or cover-up for underperformance.”
The task and promises
The NPP, under President Akufo-Addo’s leadership, has promised many interventions that seek to improve the well-being of the people, notably the creation of jobs for the teeming youth, reduction in tariffs and utility prices, one district one factory, $1 million per constituency, free senior high school education and quality National Health Insurance Scheme.
The promises also include an end to ‘dumsor’ and water supply challenges and the restoration of nursing and teacher trainee allowances, issues that attracted large votes for the current government.