President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need to expedite the process of moving Ghana beyond aid.
He said that was why the government had developed and was currently implementing the GH¢100 billion Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ Programme to transform, revitalise and modernise the economy, and return it to high and sustained growth for the next three years.
President Akuo-Addo said this when he delivered the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Tuesday.
The key projects under the CARES Programme are: supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into commercial farming; building the country’s light manufacturing sector and developing engineering/machine tools and ICT/digital economy industries.
The rest are: fast-tracking digitalisation; developing Ghana’s housing & construction industry; establishing Ghana as a Regional Hub; reviewing and optimising the implementation of Government flagships and key programmes; and creating jobs for young people, and expanding opportunities for the vulnerable in society, including persons with disabilities.
He said support had also been coming from the Bank of Ghana, under its “brilliant leadership,” which had lowered the Monetary Policy Rate by 150 basis points to 14.5 per cent, reduced the Primary Reserve Requirement from 10 per cent to eight per cent (8 per cent), reduced the Capital Adequacy Requirement from thirteen per cent (13 per cent to eleven-point five per cent (11.5 per cent,) and reduced interest rates based on the Ghana Reference Rate by 200 basis points.
The President said the Ghana Revenue Authority had also extended the dates for filing of taxes from four months to six months after the end of the basis year, issued a waiver on VAT, National Health Insurance Levy and GETFund Levy on donations of equipment and goods for fighting the pandemic, waived income taxes on Third-Tier Pension withdrawals and permitted the deduction of contributions and donations towards COVID-19 as an allowable expense for tax purposes.
He said the government found the resources to cushion the impact of the pandemic because “we are good managers of the economy, and we are good protectors of the public purse.”
The President said his government would continue with the agenda of rapid industrialisation to transform the structure of the Ghanaian economy from one dependent on the production and export of raw materials to a value-added, industrialised economy.
He said under the “One-District-One-Factory” (1D1F) initiative, 232 projects were at various stages of implementation.
These include: 76 operating as 1D1F companies, whilst 112, including five medium-size agro-processing factories, and 63 Common User Facilities are under construction.
He said the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC) had made good progress on the bauxite exploitation programme that would drive the country’s industrial transformation agenda.
“We are in the final stage of an open and transparent investor engagement process, and are in negotiations to select strategic investors to partner GIADEC for the bauxite mining and alumina refinery projects,” he added.
The President said the selected partners would be announced soon and said the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC) had also been set up and started work in earnest.
President Akufo-Addo said the country had succeeded in attracting major global vehicle manufacturers under the automotive development policy to set up in Ghana.
“So far, Volkswagen has produced 1,167 vehicles, SinoTruk 276 vehicles, and Kantanka has produced 400 vehicles.”
He said the Japanese conglomerate, Nissan, had also started the assembling of vehicles in the country.
The President said the nation’s food resilience had been severely tested over the past year and the closure of borders, in the midst of the pandemic, which meant that the country had to depend largely on food it produced.
He said indeed, in 2019, “we exported some 140,000 MT to the country’s neighbours. We are determined to take full advantage of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to produce more in Ghana, to sell more to Africa and beyond, as we move Ghana Beyond Aid.”
President Akufo-Addo said the Agreement for a Strategic Partnership between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had “bound the two countries in even closer intimacy, especially in the cocoa sector.”
He said the country had succeeded in aligning the cocoa production and marketing policies of the two countries, and ensured that it did not continue to be victims or pawns of a global cocoa industry that was dependent on the toil and effort of local farmers.
“A new trading mechanism has been implemented, and has ensured that a new cost item of US$400.00 per ton, for every cocoa sold by the two nations, effective from the 2020/2021 season, is paid to our farmers,” he added.
President Akufo-Add said through the establishment of the Tree Crops Development Authority, the government was determined to end the over-reliance on cocoa, and develop other cash crops such as cashew, cotton, mango, oil palm, rubber, and shea.
The President said the government remained committed to the completion of the mini-harbours and landing sites, which were at different stages of completion, in Senya Beraku, Dixcove, Elmina, Moree, Winneba, Gomoa Fetteh, Teshie, Keta, Mumford, and Jamestown.