Vice-president Mahamudu Bawumia
The government of Ghana disbursed GH¢412.88 million to support over 270,000 businesses which helped save over 650,000 MSME jobs during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vice-president Mahamudu Bawumia has said.
This was one of the many progressive and impactful policies Dr Bawumia said the Akufo-Addo government implemented in the interest of Ghanaians as part of measures to alleviate their suffering.
Addressing delegates at the 11th Quadrennial Conference of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) in Accra on Thursday, 26 August 2021, Dr Bawumia shared with the workers inclusive interventions by the Akufo-Addo government, which he described as defining legacies of the president.
“I will share with you developments which, I believe, have defined the president’s legacy. These are: his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unprecedented financial sector clean-up, the digital transformation of the Ghanaian society, and social interventions,” Dr Bawumia said.
The Vice-president, who recounted the economic and social challenges the Akufo-Addo government inherited from the NDC administration, listed how the government’s various interventions have addressed, or mitigated these challenges since 2017.
Prudent Economic Management
Dr Bawumia said much of the government’s successes have been due to its prudent economic management, which he noted, expanded the economy prior to COVID-19.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the president, on January 7, 2017, promised to rebuild this country, as Ghanaians faced daunting challenges, including declining economic growth, rapidly falling value of the cedi and constantly rising inflation and interest rates.’
“Three years over the planning period, between 2017 and 2019, the economy recorded significant expansion. Average growth in national output more than doubled from 2.8 per cent (2014 – 2016) to 6.96 per cent (2017 – 2019). The growth of agriculture more than doubled from 2.5 per cent to 8.3%.”
“We halted de-industrialisation, rebounded manufacturing growth, and expanded job creation. Fiscal deficit declined from 6.8 per cent of rebased national output in 2016 to 3.8 per cent and 4.8 per cent between 2018 and 2019 in that order.”
“Inflation dropped steadily from 15.4 per cent at the end of 2016 to 7.9 per cent at the end of December 2019.”
Another important legacy of the Akufo-Addo government, which the Vice-president shared with the delegates, is the digitisation drive and its continued impact on the society and the Ghanaian economy.
He said the government’s economic transformational agenda, was underpinned by the creation of digital infrastructure such as digital national identification system, property address system, inclusion of the non-formal population into the financial sector through mobile money interoperability, amongst many others, whose benefits, he said, are obvious and impacting lives.
Social interventions to reduce suffering
Dr Bawumia noted that the most important part of prudent economic management and all that government has achieved is their impacts on the lives of the people, which he said, has been a priority to the Akufo-Addo government.
“While we have not totally eliminated the suffering of Ghanaians and Ghanaian workers, we can point to specific policy interventions that have mitigated the suffering that we talked about,” he said.
The Vice President listed several social interventions including de-freezing of public sector employment, which has led to the recruitment of thousands of nurses and teachers, creation of NABCO to reduce graduate unemployment, expansion of recruitment into the security services.
Others he listed included: restoration of nursing and teacher trainee allowances, employment interventions through the Youth Employment Agency, industrialisation through 1D1F, abolition of many taxes, employment opportunities to people with disability to man toll booths, Free SHS, government’s covid-19 alleviation packages, among others.
Impact and management of COVID-19
Just like other speakers, Dr Bawumia acknowledged the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the economy and Ghanaians, as well as the government’s swift response to the situation to mitigate the impact on Ghanaians and businesses.
“The country has clearly and unequivocally made strides in inclusive growth. All these strides were made before the destructive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020,” the Vice-president said.
“The severe, debilitating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the day-to-day lives of Ghanaian workers, most especially on industrial workers, cannot be overemphasised.”
“The worldwide debilitating effects of the pandemic included disruptions to supply chains in production, economic slowdown, uncertain demand in markets and the loss of jobs and livelihoods. There has been a dramatic increase in shipping costs globally. For example, the price of shipping goods from Asia to Europe increased from $2,000 per container in August 2020 to $12,000 per container in August 2021, with its attendant impact on prices of goods (such as cement iron rods etc.) globally.”
The government, he said, responded swiftly.
Through the implementation of the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP), the government increased COVID-19 testing facilities from the initial two to 16 and equipped several hospitals across the country with the capacity to test for COVID-19; government subsidised electricity consumption for 4,772,512 customers from April 2020 to March 2021.
“Electricity consumption for 1,620,907 lifeline customers were fully covered while the consumption of other customers was subsidised by 50 per cent; the government increased average monthly water supply by over 40% and provided free water supply to over 10,000,000 Ghanaians”
The leadership of the ICU, also commended the government’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, and urged the government to continue to do more to mitigate the impact, especially on workers.