President John Dramani Mahama has underscored the need for tough, pragmatic measures to carry on with national development, saying he is in sync with the challenges of the Ghanaian.
Those challenges, he said, require the implementation of tough measures to cure, explaining that he would have loved to supply Ghanaians free petrol to fuel their vehicles but that is only an impractical wish.
The president was addressing journalists' questions at the Flagstaff House during a press meeting to mark his first year in office. The meeting was themed "One year of responsible, transparent and accountable governance".
Journalist Dzifa Bampoh of Joy FM had asked the president what his administration was doing to mitigate the suffering of the masses particularly when taxes and the prices of utilities have been hiked, adding to the prospect of a general freeze on public sector wages.
Juxtaposing the governance of the country to being the breadwinner of a family, President Mahama said, "If you are the head of a family and you are the breadwinner and you find yourself in a situation where, what in economic terms you call a deficit, what it means is that your expenditure exceeds your income... what is going to happen to your family? You will get into debts and your family is probably going to end up in prison. And so, what you need to do is to take some measures that will include sacrifices.
"It is the same as a country. You cannot continue to subsidise, you cannot continue to give freebies when you do not have the income to support it. And so, that is the challenge we are faced with. We have a deficit, our expenditure exceeds our income at the beginning of 2013 by 12 per cent, and so we need balance out our expenditure and income."
"For me, if I could give free petrol to Ghanaians I would do so, if I could make energy as cheap as possible I would do so. But there are tough decisions we must take. Governance is a difficult business and difficult decisions need to be taken," he noted.
No need for praises
Responding to a question on the energy crises that characterised 2013, President Mahama said the crises were not because of his first year in government but due to the inability of previous governments' inability to add to the power grid.
That notwithstanding, he noted that he did not need any praises for his efforts to resolve the energy crises since it is his duty as president to ensure that adequate power is made available to Ghanaians.
He said, "I'm not saying anybody should celebrate us for solving the energy crisis. It is the duty of government to ensure that there is adequate power but it takes years to deliver every single power plant. The crises we faced is not a crises caused by Mahama's first year of government but a crises of adding enough generation over a long period of time."
"And so I accept that we have an energy crises and I must do something about it. I can blame previous governments and I'm doing something about it. That's all, and I don't expect to be praised for that," President Mahama noted.
President Mahama expressed optimism about 2014, noting that, "I believe 2014 is going to be a good year and it is going to be the start of good things for Ghana."