25 February 2014

Ghana: The Economy Is Resilient and Strong-President Mahama

press release

The achievements of the government dominated the State of the Nation's Address delivered by President John Dramani Mahama to Parliament today.

The address, which forms part of the President's constitutional mandate, which required him to address Parliament on the state of the nation is the second delivered by the President since he was elected President in December 2012.

The address touched on some key areas including the economy, measures being adopted by the government to resolve the bottlenecks in the educational, health and agricultural sectors, social protection, youth development, sports, energy, security and transparent and accountable governance.

President Mahama described Ghana's economy as resilient and strong saying: "Despite the short-term challenges we face, our economic fundamentals remain sound and our mid-term goals are bright."

According to him, Ghana's economic prospects are "bright" adding that "growth continues to be robust at an estimated 7.4 per cent last year and we still retain our vision to accelerate and maintain GDP growth at above 8 per cent going forward."

He noted that the fact that "we are transiting into a service economy is obvious from the strong growth that continues to be posted by the services sector... The industry sector, which has witnessed sluggish growth over the last couple of years also post a remarkable increase of 9.2 per cent."

On the depreciation of the cedi against the major trading currencies in the country, President Mahama blamed the cause on the import dependence.

He assured Ghanaians that the measures introduced by the Bank of Ghana would ease the pressure on the cedi to ensure businesses did not suffer.

"I wish to assure this august house and the good citizens of Ghana that as with the taste of any bitter medicine this turbulence we are going through is temporary... " he said, adding that "the benefits of the sacrifices we are making will soon be felt. "

On education, he hinted that government would implement a free senior high school education policy in 2015.

He said the Ministry of Education had already drawn up a plan to this effect, adding that "The Ministry following consultations with stakeholders had prepared a report on the roadmap for a progressive introduction of free secondary education in Ghana as required under the 1992 constitution."

"This roadmap will be presented to cabinet for approval and subsequent implementation. Under the guidance of this roadmap, we can anticipate that fees for day students will be abolished at an estimated cost of GH¢71 million in 2015/2016 academic year," he added.

He also disclosed that government had released the sum of Gh¢50 million to local pharmaceutical companies to produce Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARVs) locally and that the move constituted one of the major approaches towards reducing the HIV/AIDS infection rate among the population and to save many more lives.

He said the best form of influencing attitudinal change among the sexually active population was awareness creation through education, which he said; government was committed to continuing with.

On Health, the President announced plans to construct 1,600 Community-based Health Planning Services (CHIPS) compounds across the country by 2016, as part of efforts by government to improve basic health care in rural areas and peri-urban towns.

According to him; "...government is committed to pursuing the vision of bringing quality healthcare to the doorstep of people...irrespective of their geographical location."

The President disclosed that the beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program, which aims to empower the poor and offer them hope to participate in the development of the nation, would be increased from 100,000 this year to 150,000 by 2015.

Earlier President Mahama on arrival inspected a guard of honour mounted by a contingent from the Ghana Air forces after which he was escorted by the leadership of the House led by traditional dancers into the chamber.

Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah & Richie Osei Asiedu)

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