Ghana’s Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has said Ghanaians have now moved from being “mere spectators” to “seasoned commentators” on the radio airwaves.
Speaking at a Danquah Institute forum on the theme: ‘Bridging the gap between the formal and informal economy, the role of domestic revenue mobilisation in an era of Ghana Beyond Aid’, held at the College of Physicians and Surgeons on Friday, 10 May 2019, Mr Ofori-Atta noted that: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we turn on our radio each morning to hear many voices eloquently outlining our numerous development challenges.
“In our debates, we prefer to celebrate little and denigrate more. One person described it in church to me the other day as the tyranny of the pessimists.
“We appear to have transitioned from an era of mere spectators to one of seasoned commentators”, he observed, urging that: “Perhaps, we should encourage our linguistics scholars to expand the common Akan translation of democracy beyond ‘ka bi, na me nka bi’”.
The Finance Minister said he believes when President Nana Akufo-Addo, at his investiture, “implored us ‘to be citizens and not spectators’, he meant it both in our words and in our deeds”.
“Indeed”, Mr Ofori-Atta bemoaned, “one could sometimes easily be misled into believing that Ghana is worse off today than it was yesterday”. But that is to the contrary, he said.
“For example”, he noted, “Ghana of yesterday, didn’t see the planned transformational redevelopment the railway sector is seeing today. We no longer have to import plantain from next door and instead are enjoying bumper harvests today. The banking sector is more credible today than it was yesterday. Today, half-a-million Ghanaians renew their NHIS card from the comfort of their homes and receive health treatment with the card, which wasn’t the case yesterday. We’re by no means out of the woods yet, as too many of our citizens are struggling to make ends meet. But, the economy is in a healthier shape today than it was yesterday. It was only yesterday that workers and businesses were brought to their knees by ‘dumsor’ and killer tariffs. For the avoidance of doubt, Madam Chairperson, when I say ‘yesterday’, I actually mean just a couple of years ago”.
“Indeed”, he continued, “it’s smart and welcoming to judge this government by higher standards than was previously the case. Otherwise, it defeats the whole concept of progress and if there is one thing that this President is committed to then it is progress – an all-inclusive, broad-based, sustainable progress. Ironically, Ghanaians expect more from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) than the alternative.
“And, we can so easily take the substance which feeds that impression for granted. Perhaps this is because our foundation is built on a vision which the man that this institute is named after, J.B Danquah, described as: ‘moulding our economic system to suit our particular instincts for individual freedom and social justice’.
“Ghana is 62 years. Out of which, the Danquah-Dombo-Busia group has so far had less than 13 years to make our contribution to the progress of this country. This is less than half of the opportunity our friends on the other side have had. In this short period of time, we embarked on policies which impact on lives, defining what we stand for. Examples of these are Busia’s Rural Development Policy, Kufuor’s National Health Insurance Scheme, buttressed with policies that unleashed the energies of Ghanaian enterprise and made Ghana an oil producing nation. Today, it is the same mindset that led to Aker announcing the biggest oil find in Africa just two months [ago]. We are confident that the decisions we have taken, and with the support of Parliament, will soon lead to more major oil finds being made. God is indeed on our side.
“Ours is a Government that believes that a free market in consumer products and services can go hand in hand, side by side, with social justice – free education, free healthcare and welfare for the poor and vulnerable. The Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition, which traces its roots directly to the monumental 4th August 1947 event in Saltpond when the United Gold Coast Convention was formed, is the one tradition that, in all humility, Madam Chairperson, has been constant and consistent in espousing the very values and principles that have today become the standard to which, constitutionally, all must aspire: i.e. democratic accountability, rule of law, tolerance, individual liberties, civic responsibility, free enterprise, market economy, and social justice.
“But the Akufo-Addo administration is under no illusion about the challenges of these seemingly opposed ideologies and the attention needed to deal with them. We believe a government can be both pro-business and pro-people. The thoughts of Danquah laid the foundation for this. The policies of Busia attested to this. The programmes implemented by Kufuor confirmed it. And, what Akufo-Addo is doing now leaves no doubt that ours is the party for the people, in our deeds, even if not so much in our words”, he added.
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