President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged Ghanaians to desist from hiding behind the cloak of religiosity to indulge in habits that have robbed the state of countless hours of productive time.
“We come to work and we spend the first hour or more not on the job that we are paid to do but on prayers.
“We go to all-night prayers and we come to work the next day tired and unfit for purpose. We take out one week for every funeral and expect our businesses to thrive because we invoked the name of the Almighty,” the President said.
Delivering an address to open the International Conference on Entrepreneurship, Businesses and Technology (ICEBUT) in Accra on Monday, he said even though the primary focus of religion was the redemption of souls, Christian churches needed to emphasise the practical aspects of living.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the country was in danger of getting things out of balance and allowing our lives to be taken over completely by a narrow interpretation of religion.
Today, he said, an increasing number of people seemed to think that success in all fields of endeavour was dependent on miracles and not hard work.
He said he was eternally grateful to the Almighty God for His Grace and favour that led to his party winning the elections in December 2016, but it would be unfair to discount the amount of very hard work that was put in by many people.
Need to keep balance
President Akufo-Addo stressed the need for a proper balance to be kept at all times, adding that churches and mosques had a very crucial role to play in the attitudinal change that was required to build a new economy.
He said the economy and jobs dominated the country’s recent elections and continued to dominate every conversation in the country today.
“I believe we are all agreed now that we cannot continue with the business-as-usual path and want to grow the economy to create the jobs that we need. We must change the way our economy works and we must change our attitudes to be able to grow the prosperous Ghana we all want,” the President said.
He said his government was of the firm belief that the fastest way to resolve the two interconnected problems of an economy that failed to meet the needs of the people and an alarming rate of unemployment lay in entrepreneurship, institutions and the creation of a conducive environment for private businesses to thrive.
He said successful economies depended on entrepreneurs running successful businesses, for which reason it was time to take entrepreneurship seriously.
While stressing the need to find answers to the difficult question of how to change the mindset of many that had been conditioned only to look towards the government as the source of employment, the President posited that such a change ought to make all accord the proper respect to farming and treat it as the business that it ought to be.
The private sector, he said, also ought to be accorded respect and be seen as an instrument of growth.
He found as troubling the situation where cocoa farmers had moved from being the richest and most powerful people in society to being the poorest and most unappreciated.
He pointed out that the absurdity of the situation was that an official of COCOBOD was more likely to be richer and more respected than a cocoa farmer in a country where cocoa still contributed the most significant part of gross domestic product.
Public service not money-making avenue
The President was equally of the view that the country required efficient and competent civil and public services, as well as a strong and vibrant Legislature and Judiciary.
He noted that when the public service became attractive as a source of money making, it was an indication that things were in the wrong order.
“It is in our interest that those who set up ventures and take business risks are able to generate wealth. This is the sector that must grow, for it is the sector that will provide the cure for our unemployment crisis,” he emphasised.
Often, he said, the public service had been an impediment, instead of being of help, to would-be entrepreneurs, adding that petty corruption and excessive regulation weighed down and demoralised businesses.
“This administration is determined to remove such impediments and allow businesses to grow,” he stressed, adding: “There is work to be done on all sides, if we are to achieve our goals — work by government, work by the educational institutions and work by the business community,” he stressed.
Nana Akufo-Addo noted that the recent budget had shown that the government was serious about its part of the bargain and was committed to strengthening businesses and the private sector.