By David Apinga on 2018-02-09 12:48:58
TRUE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS PRESENTED BY MINORITY LEADER, HONOURABLE HARUNA IDDRISU, ON FRIDAY, 9TH FEBRUARY, 2018
A STATE OF DECEPTION
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
I warmly welcome you to this session on behalf of the Minority Caucus in Parliament...
TRUE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS PRESENTED BY MINORITY LEADER, HONOURABLE HARUNA IDDRISU, ON FRIDAY, 9TH FEBRUARY, 2018
A STATE OF DECEPTION
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
I warmly welcome you to this session on behalf of the Minority Caucus in Parliament.
Before proceeding any further, the NDC Minority in Parliament will like to express our shock and sadness at the news of the sudden demise of that exceptionally talented and amazing young Ghanaian musician – Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng popularly known as Ebony. We extend our deepest condolences to her family, her fans and the entire nation. We also commiserate with all those who perished in the fatal accident and pray that the good Lord will comfort their families and loved ones.
Shall we now observe a minute silence in honour of the memory of Ebony and her departed colleagues.
Ladies and Gentlemen, yesterday, Thursday, 8th February, 2018, His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, pursuant to Article 67 of the Constitution presented a statement on the State of the Nation. That constitutional injunction requires that the President gives a candid account of the true state of the nation.
The state of the nation address as delivered by the President yesterday did not only lack inspiration, it woefully failed to offer hope to suffering Ghanaians; indeed, it was a far cry from the realities that Ghanaians have been forced to live with since the NPP administration assumed office.
In the President’s opening remarks, he sought to create the impression that the Great NDC Party has deserted its founder. Isn’t it ironic that today, President Akufo-Addo has found it necessary to speak for Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings?
It must never be lost on this nation of ours that it is President Akufo-Addo who as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice under President John Agyekum Kufuor unilaterally stripped former President Jerry John Rawlings of all his constitutionally mandated entitlements, protocols, and courtesies.
Not too long ago President Akufo-Addo and the NPP told this country that former president Rawlings is a mad man who finds pleasure in climbing trees, today President Akufo-Addo turns round to hypocritically express pretentious love for former President Rawlings.
Today, President Akufo- Addo wants Ghanaians to believe that he loves Former President Rawlings more than those of us in the NDC, who stood by him and his family when under the NPP the former first family were tormented, prosecuted, emotionally tortured and politically persecuted. Truly, wonders will never end. Interesting times.
The irony is that on the settled historical unquestionable fact of the Founder of Ghana, President Akufo-Addo refuses to agree with the world including recent pronouncements by President Emmanuel Macron of France that the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is the sole and indisputable founder of Ghana.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the President’s delivery and portrayal of the national situation differed markedly from the reality confronting the average Ghanaian today.
As usual he was high on flowery rhetoric but short on the substance that speaks to the aspirations and lived experiences of our people.
Much to the disappointment of the nation, the President chose to deviate from the dictates of a State of the Nation Address and rather repeated his numerous hackneyed campaign promises which he has so far failed to deliver.
Under the circumstance, we are compelled to straighten the record and present the true state of the nation in order to jolt the President and his NPP government into reality and to compel them to fashion out urgent appropriate responses to the needs of Ghanaians.
We intend to discuss the true state of the nation under a number of broad themes starting with the economy.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we note that the President’s statement yesterday sought to paint a rosy picture of the Ghanaian economy. He recited a number of macro-economic indices which he says are pointing in the right direction and which show that the economy is on the right track. He cited the growth rate and inflation among other indices as evidence of this supposed economic performance.
The President rather predictably failed to give a proper account of the trajectory of these indices and the history behind them as this would have revealed the fact that they are not attributable to any exceptional economic management strategy by his government, but rather the product of hard work put in by the erstwhile Mahama administration.
It is trite knowledge that as far back as the middle of 2016, when elections were many months away, several international financial institutions had projected that Ghana’s economy was going to grow by over 7% in 2017 and close to 9% in 2018.The World Bank, IMF, the Economist Intelligence Unit among others all indicated that additional production of oil from the TEN and SANKOFA fields starting from the last quarter of 2016 was going to result in high growth rates in 2017 and 2018.
This was also going to be achieved on the back of the fiscal consolidation measures adopted by the Mahama administration under the Extended Credit Facility of the IMF to correct the slippages of previous years.
The attribution of the growth rate of 2017 and projections for 2018 to the economic management of the NPP is therefore misleading and paints an inaccurate picture of the true situation. Needless to say that this growth has not been accompanied by commensurate job creation - a reason why up to a million youth in Ghana are unemployed.
Additional oil production occasioned by the massive investments of the NDC government accounts for the high industrial growth which the President sought to appropriate for his government.
The drop in inflation which the President also touted is in fact the result of a trend which started in the last quarter of 2016 under the NDC government. This is a fact admitted to in the 2017 budget presented by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta. That said, it must also be pointed out that government’s inflation for the year 2017 was missed as was the revenue target for the same year.
Regarding the public debt situation, it was amusing to observe that unlike last year when the President waxed eloquently and stated our total public debt in nominal terms, he sought refuge under a misleading calculation of debt to GDP ratio which relied on end of third quarter 2017 figures.
In his address last year, President Akufo Addo pegged the total public debt at GHS 122.3 billion yet he failed yesterday to give a corresponding figure for this year. We are certain that the President conveniently neglected to provide information on our total debt as at end year 2017 because the figures will badly expose his pre-election propaganda about the subject.
Official figures as put out by the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Ghana peg our public debt at nearly GHS 140 billion as of November, 2017. Additional borrowing between that period and now coupled with the Energy Sector Bond of GHS 4.7 billion which the IMF and World Bank classifies as public debt means that this will balloon to about GHS 150 billion representing an increase of about GHS 30 billion over the January,2017 figure or 73% of GDP.
The most worrying observation about the NPP’s borrowing is that they have virtually no major capital investment to show for it unlike the NDC government that has the best record of capital or infrastructure development in the fourth republic with the GHS 87 billion borrowed in eight years under our tenure.
It is this grim statistic that the President cunningly failed to disclose in order not to appear as having gone back on he and his Vice President’s word not to borrow during the 2016 election campaign. We are all witnesses to the colossal borrowing they have been engaged in.
They have found out the hard way that haughty claims of expertise in economic management in opposition do not readily translate into performance in government.
Even more misleading was the President’s claims about the rate of debt accumulation. He claimed that the rate of debt accumulation had slowed from 36% in 2016 to 13.5% in 2017.The truth is that the 13.5% figure reflected the situation as of September, 2017. It is currently 22%.
We note also that the President failed to touch on the effect of his government’s economic policies on the people of Ghana. The President failed to show sensitivity towards the people of Ghana who are smarting under severe hardships brought about by the rising cost of living.
Contrary to his campaign promise to reduce the price of fuel, the commodity now sells at a staggering GHS 22 per gallon up from GHS 14 per gallon as of December, 2016. Hardly a week passes by these days without an increase in the price of fuel. We recall how President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia responded to smaller increases in accordance with the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. They claimed at the time that such increases were insensitive and condemned the government of the day.
At the time; dwindling world market prices from benchmark revenue of US$ 90 per barrel to an actual price of US28 per barrel meant that government revenue from the sale of crude oil was experiencing significant shortfalls. This compelled government to introduce the Special Petroleum Tax as a way of shoring up government finances.
At the present moment, increasing world market prices of crude oil have put government in a much better position in terms of oil revenue making the maintenance of the Special Petroleum Tax unnecessary. This is sufficient basis for government to remove the tax in order to lower fuel prices at the pump to bring relief to Ghanaians.
The maintenance of the tax has been compounded by a rapidly depreciating Ghana cedi leaving Ghanaians at the mercy of the market.
The President’s failure to speak on fuel prices and the NPA’s rationalization of the astronomical increases paint a gloomy picture of more hardships for Ghanaians. This is an economic reality which cannot be swept under the carpet through vacuous Presidential rhetoric.
Only two days ago, commercial drivers, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) and the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) staged a demonstration to drive home their frustration over the unbearable hardships. It is extremely insensitive on the part of President Akufo-Addo to ignore the plight of the suffering masses.
Even as the President claimed to have removed taxes on some items, the harsh reality on the ground is that most businesses and sections of our people are living under the excruciating yoke of steep increases in taxes. How can the private sector cope and how can they create jobs?
Spare parts dealers continue to complain bitterly about staggering increases in port charges despite claims of reduction in import duties. Many business groups and owners including the Ashanti Business Association have clearly indicated that their businesses are on the verge of collapse due to the heavy toll the 3% VAT Flat rate is having on them.
Ghanaians still await the promised reductions in electricity tariffs which the President illegally announced at the beginning of this year. We wish to remind the President that electricity remains more expensive than rent for most Ghanaians even as IPPs continue to clamour for upward adjustment.
It was the campaign mantra of the President and his party that Ghanaians were suffering. Today we wish to inform him that Ghanaians are living under unprecedented hardships and his penchant for long talk devoid of corresponding action has done little to ameliorate the situation. The suffering and hardship imposed on Ghanaians by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government has reached unbearable limits as economic conditions continue to deteriorate. The evidence of this is reflected in the astronomical increases in price of every conceivable item:
Ladies and Gentlemen, you will recall that in the lead up to the 2016 elections, Nana Addo and Bawumia promised the youth of this country that an NPP administration will deliver jobs. Sadly, one year on in the State of the Nation address, delivered by the President could not indicate how many jobs were created since the NPP government assumed office.
Instructively, President Akufo Addo failed to defend the outrageous claims of his Minister for Food and Agriculture that 745,000 jobs had been created under the nebulous Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
We find it hard to believe that the President who is quick to tout the most insignificant achievements would not seek glory from the Minister’s claims about jobs if it was indeed the case .745,000 would easily stand out as his most important achievement. His failure to broach the subject represents the most categorical rejection of the dubious figures churned out by the Minister for Agriculture, yet the President found it necessary to describe the Minister for Agriculture as champion of Ghanaians farmers. .
It is cynical and cruel on the part of the Akufo-Addo government to bandy about figures on job creation with reckless abandon at a time when Ghanaian youth continue to wallow in frustration over the non-existence of decent jobs.
The President also failed to put forth measures to create long-term, sustainable jobs in his State of the Nation Address except for claims of training 3000 youth in ICT at the Accra Digital Centre. Once again the President did not find the necessary character to show magnanimity and graciousness to acknowledge that the Accra Digital Centre was the handiwork and legacy of President John Dramani Mahama of the NDC.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the true state of affairs in Ghana today is that our young men and women face a grim future, and unfortunately, the attitude of Akufo-Addo’s government gives neither assurance nor hope to inspire the possibility of a decent future for our youth.
A BLOATED AND NEPOTISTIC GOVERNMENT
The records show that President Akufo Addo has installed the largest, most inefficient and nepotistic government in the country’s history. Sadly, Ghana now carries the unenviable tag of having the largest number of Ministers in the world. In his State of the Nation Address, he failed to offer convincing justification for this undesirable situation.
The policy of wholesale appointments as a reward for NPP members who played any role in the Akufo-Addo campaign, has resulted in the creation of amorphous and superfluous portfolios like Special Initiatives, Business Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, Planning, Regional Reorganization, Procurement among others have all become an unnecessary drain on the Ghanaian tax payer as these Ministries have only served to duplicate the functions of traditional Ministries with very little output and contribution to national development.
The President did not give any indication of a slash in the unacceptably-high number of Ministers and it is safe to assume therefore that the tax payer will continue to be burdened with financing the creature comforts of Ministries with questionable functional necessity.
Exacerbating the bloated government is the most appalling form of nepotism ever experienced in the history of Ghana. In the run up to the 2016 elections, then candidate Akufo-Addo promised not to operate a family and friends government. As President he has assembled the most nepotistic government in the annals of Ghanaian history brimming with dozens of blood relatives, known friends and business associates.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this demonstration of cronyism, nepotism, and government by blood relatives has left Ghana reeling under the spectre of state capture and unacceptably high potential for conflict of interest and corruption at every turn.
Today the business interests and relationships of the President and his family members in government have ensured that vast swathes of the public sectors fall under their personal control and this they have exploited to the detriment of the national interest.
The recent damning findings of CHRAJ in the scandalous US$ 2.25 billion Kenbond is a case in point.
We demand an immediate reversal of this state of affairs. The President needs to realise that the governance of this country is not a family heirloom to be apportioned among relatives and members of his family.
Ladies and Gentlemen, on education, it was disappointing to hear the President focus the entire section on education in his address on the much-troubled Free SHS programme. He did not articulate any concrete measures aimed at alleviating the acute congestion, deprivation and inhumane conditions young Ghanaians are compelled to endure as a result of the government’s policy on senior high schools. There was no roadmap in the address that gives comfort to parents and their wards that the unseemly sight of children sleeping rough in the open due to lack of dormitories, sitting on cement blocks and under trees due to lack of classrooms and a dearth of basic facilities will be resolved soon.
Even as the Akufo-Addo government struggles to raise the necessary funds to meet their commitments under Free SHS and continue to condemn our children to squalor and suffering, there was virtually no word on the other levels of education. It is almost as if Free SHS, even in its poorly-implemented state, is the be all and end all of education in Ghana.
Almost no attention was paid to basic, tertiary and vocational and technical education in Ghana.
Very worryingly, the President appears to have abandoned the completion of the 200 Community Day Schools Programme initiated under former President Mahama. This example of bad governance will compromise quality and access further leading to the destruction of secondary education in Ghana.
Beyond bland references to the NHIS, the President had nothing to show in the health sector. Despite the borrowing of GHS 30 billion in his first year, President Akufo-Addo cannot boast of even one CHPS compound by way of health infrastructure. Indeed the closest he came to doing anything as far as health infrastructure is concerned is the commendable effort by his wife to mobilize private funds from public-spirited Ghanaians and organizations to put up a babies unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.
To add insult to the injury, after failing to construct even a single CHPS compound, President Akufo-Addo has supervised the deliberate neglect of several ultra-modern hospitals built by the NDC government under the able leadership of President Mahama. The University of Ghana Teaching Hospital, the International Maritime Hospital, the Bank of Ghana Hospital are but a few examples.
Whiles these and many other health facilities quite recently constructed under the NDC government have been left to rot, new medical doctors and other health professionals trained on account of the tax payers money are left at home unemployed by Akufo-Addo’s government.
Speaking at the 59th Annual General Conference of the (GMA) in Kumasi, the President of the GMA, DCOP Dr. E. Ewusi-Emmim, noted that “the GMA is gravely concerned about the creeping incidence of unemployment for medical doctors and dentists in the country. Ghana still suffers from abysmal doctor to patient ratio. Several communities and districts in the country do not have medical doctors and dentists to serve them at all, while trained manpower languishes at home.”
The GMA also noted that health facilities in some communities “continue to be manned by single individuals who tend to be overworked and in most cases cannot even take their annual leave. It is worrying that newly qualified medical doctors and dentists as well as those who have completed their house jobs are in some cases unemployed, wasting away to the detriment of health care delivery in the country.”
Ironically, Akufo-Addo’s government has denied Ghanaians the opportunity to benefit from the professional expertise and skills of doctors and other professionals trained with funds from the same Ghanaians, yet government officials are flown out of the country at the least headache for medical attention at a cost to the taxpayer. Indeed, the allegory of George Orwell’s Animal Farm is upon us.
We were astonished to hear the President once again attempt to appropriate to himself credit for the resolution of the challenges faced in electricity supply a few years ago, popularly called dumsor. We had hoped that truth and candour will guide the President’s commentary on the matter.
Unfortunately, he does not appear to have imbibed these noble principles when it comes to dumsor.
The inescapable truth is that it was President Mahama who promised and delivered an end to dumsor. Indeed planned load shedding in Ghana was brought to an end on 24th December, 2015 over a year before the NPP came to power. In his first State of the Nation Address last year, Akufo-Addo himself acknowledged that dumsor had ended before he assumed office yet one year on, he turns around to take credit for the end of dumsor ironically at a time when dumsor appears to be returning..
Also the President’s claim that his government has resolved financial challenges in the sector through their work is at best misleading. The easing of the financial crunch in the sector is due largely to the introduction of the Energy Sector Levy (ESLA) which was vehemently opposed and criticised by then candidate Akufo-Addo and his party.
Till date not one megawatt of generation capacity has been added by the NPP government. It is therefore unclear how President Akufo Addo can muster courage to make such a dubious claim. Even though Nana Addo promised to reduce utility tariff, Ghanaians are paying more for electricity under this government than previously.
This year’s State of the Nation Address was delivered against the backdrop of mounting insecurity, and it was our expectation that the President will take the opportunity to assure the nation of measures aimed at curbing the deteriorating security situation caused by violent crime.
It is very sad and heart-breaking that a serving senior police officer, Inspector Emmanuel Ashilevi who lost his live in the line of duty when armed bandits attacked the Kwabenya police station barely three weeks ago received no sympathies or recognition in the State of the Nation Address.
The omission or deliberate neglect of the pain visited upon the Police officer’s family feeds into a prevailing narrative that under this government the security of Ghanaians is not a priority.
Once again, the President failed to take a tough stance on the terrorism and militancy unleashed by the many violent groups that were formed under his auspices as flagbearer of the NPP.
His inability to out-rightly condemn the existence of these groups and proscribe them render his rhetoric on their violent activities hollow and completely insipid. The daring attacks on state institutions and members of the public by the invincible forces, delta forces and all the blood-cuddling groups which have gone unpunished have served only as motivation for other miscreants to take the law into their hands. We wish to commend the president however for boldly referring to this miscreants as terrorists.
It has been possible for NPP militants to attack senior security officials at the Flagstaff House, attack courts, a security coordinator in the Ashanti Region and countless others and get away with it. All this while the President and his party have harboured these terrorists with no intention of disbanding them.
The inability of the President to take a decisive punitive action against these miscreants is a firm confirmation of the fear of many Ghanaians that an Akufo-Addo presidency will make the country unsafe.
This has stripped the President Akufo Addo of the requisite moral authority to deal with crime in the impartial and forceful manner that is required. For as long as the Militants of his party continue to exist and operate with impunity, the President cannot be taken serious when he speaks about ending crime and violence.
THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT SAVINGS
A major low point in the State of the Nation Address yesterday was the fight against corruption. The President displayed an uncanny eagerness to peddle anti-NDC propaganda of the most undesirable kind when he claimed that some GHS 800 million have been saved through the rejection of some sole-sourcing applications.
The President claimed that “in 2016, the Public Procurement Authority had 622 Sole Sourcing Requests. 597 of that number i.e., 98% were approved, and there were 25 rejections. There were 592 Requests for Restricted Tenders, and 587 (99.15%) were approved, and there were 5 rejections. Grand total of zero savings”.
He also claimed that “in 2017, my first year in office, 394 Sole Sourcing Requests were made, out of which 223 (56.6%) were approved, and 171 (43.4%) were rejected. There were 346 Requests for Restricted Tenders, and 167 (48%) were approved, and 179 (52%) were rejected. The savings, made over the year as a result, amounted to some GH¢800 million.”
Interestingly, now we know sole sourcing is not illegal. 56% of sole sourcing approvals under President Akufo-Addo cannot support the promise of using sole sourcing rarely and sparingly.
In his apparent haste to misinterpret these claims for partisan gain, the President left many questions begging for answers.
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