Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and my dear friends, I am very glad to be among you today and I am grateful for this opportunity to address the Annual General Meeting of the members of The Private Enterprise Federation, PEF. I am glad to see so many friends in the audience. This gives me comfort and confidence.
I had a slight moment of hesitation about accepting your invitation at this time because I thought the timing was a bit awkward. The elections are over, I am no longer a candidate, we have won an emphatic victory but our mandate does not come into effect until January 7.
I decided I should come to your gathering because as the apex Business Council in Ghana representing over 80% of all Ghanaian businesses both in the formal and informal sector, you constitute a critical part of the solution to the main task of the Akufo-Addo government. I need to have you on board right from the start and there can’t be a better time to have this conversation. If, as we believe, the private sector is to lead in the development of the national economy, PEF and its members are key constituents in any discussion on Ghana’s future.
Since the Ghanaian people spoke with a clear voice and gave an overwhelming mandate to the NPP, I have been cheered by the general sense of optimism that has come over the entire population. I have been particularly happy about the sense of optimism and hope among the business community.
I have, along with the rest of the country, heard about the reported reduction in prices of goods in the markets. I suspect the approach of Christmas has something to do with these price reductions, but I am happy to go along with the suggestion that they are meant to demonstrate confidence in the incoming government. I am in full support of any measure that cheers up the long suffering people of Ghana. I need a happy and confident people to tackle the huge problems that we face. I need a confident, imaginative and hardworking business community to create the prosperous Ghana we dream of.
The NPP’s vision for Ghana is to build a fair and prosperous society in a democratic, united nation. To achieve this, we need a well-educated and skilled population, an efficient public service with strong institutions and a competitive economy that is capable of producing sustainable growth, jobs and shared benefits for all. We have laid out our plans in our Manifesto which we call Change: An Agenda for Jobs, which I am sure you have all read from cover to cover already. Bear with me though as I pick out some parts just for emphasis.
We aim to build the most business-friendly and people-friendly economy in Africa, which will create jobs and prosperity for all Ghanaians; and this we intend to do through private sector empowerment.
– I repeat through private sector empowerment.
Government’s role is to create the atmosphere for the private sector to flourish. We aim to achieve double digit GDP growth annually for the next four years, and this is possible if you remember that under the Kufuor-led NPP government the economy attained a GDP growth rate of 9.1% in 2008 without oil. We will reduce the cost of doing business, maintain fiscal discipline, reduce government borrowing and reduce interest rates to spur private sector investment.
Our economic programme will enhance agricultural production and productivity, along with a transformation of the economy through value- addition to our raw materials in a process of rapid industrialization.
The NPP will invest in our people through the provision of quality education and healthcare, as well as affordable housing. The role of government would be one of providing an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive, as well as putting in place social policies to protect the disadvantaged and vulnerable in society. In particular, the NPP will implement policies to invest in rural, coastal, Zongo and inner city communities.
To attain a competitive economy that is capable of producing sustainable growth, jobs and shared benefits for all – two key stakeholders must play their roles_
- The Government, by setting the environment and climate to allow private sector to flourish, and
- The Private Sector to have the confidence to exploit all the opportunities offered by such a business friendly administration.
Once in government, our priority is to do all we can to give YOU the confidence of a positive business environment devoid of arbitrary and irrational policy initiatives and one that gives YOU the confidence to do what you do best – INVEST IN THE NUMEROUS OPPORTUNITIES TO CREATE JOBS AND PROPSPERITY
To achieve our objectives, our principal economic policy direction will be to:
restore macroeconomic stability, shift the focus of economic management from taxation to production, manage the economy competently, and make the machinery of government work to deliver the benefits of progress to Ghanaians.
Restoring Macroeconomic Stability
The NPP will restore and maintain macroeconomic stability through the pursuit of sound policies on the basis of an enhanced institutional framework. Macroeconomic stability is built around three pillars: monetary discipline, fiscal discipline and financial stability. To reinforce monetary discipline, the Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612) established the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to guide the implementation of monetary policy. The other two pillars (fiscal discipline and financial stability) have no such institutional anchors.
Enhancing Fiscal Discipline
Fiscal indiscipline has been the bane of economic management in the country. To address this, the IMF recently insisted on the passage of a Public Financial Management Act. However, the law, as enacted, is woefully inadequate, because it lacks the key elements that will protect the public purse from abuse. Fiscal policy implementation, as it stands now, lacks three basic elements; the absence of a transparent institutional arrangement for providing quality fiscal information to the public, the absence of a mechanism for ensuring accountability in implementing optimal fiscal policies to guarantee the stability of the system, and the absence of an institution to ensure the credibility of fiscal projections provided by the Government.
To address the problem of the current high public debt levels and the country’s high risk of debt distress, our government will adopt and implement