PRESS RELEASE ON THE
2020 STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
On February 20, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo presented the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to Parliament. We congratulate the President on the fulfilment of this constitutional duty.
Improvement in Macroeconomic Management
The President highlighted the improvements in key macroeconomic indices and the positive outlook for Ghana’s economy, as confirmed by international rating agencies.
These achievements are remarkable because the gains in macroeconomic management and the positive outlook for our economy signal Ghana’s determination to become economically independent in the shortest time possible. That means the possibility of Ghana going back to IMF for financial support is becoming more remote, provided we manage to consolidate the gains and pursue the President’s vision of Ghana Beyond Aid with the vigour it deserves.
As the President noted in his address, despite the improvement in the macroeconomic management “we still have some way to go to reach the Ghana we want”. We will add that Ghana has a long way to go to ensure that the gains in macroeconomic management reflect in the lives of each and every Ghanaian. The gains must reflect in Ghana’s Human Development Index (HDI). We have a long way to go because there are over 10 million Ghanaians who are currently eking out a living from precarious economic activities in Ghana’s extra-large informal economy. We still have a long way to go to provide water to a very significant number of Ghanaians who have no access to clean water and sanitation. We have a long way to go because millions of Ghanaians are still living below the international poverty line of US$2 a day despite our enormous wealth.
Creating decent employment for the millions who are suffering poverty, deprivation, and destitution is the surest way to make them feel the progress Ghana is making. We need to support millions of self-employed Ghanaians in micro, small and medium enterprises to enjoy a decent living. TUC supports One-District-One Factory, the Planting for Food and Jobs and One-Village-One Dam and such other initiatives because, potentially, they can create decent jobs for Ghanaians in all parts of the country. This is how we can make the macroeconomic gains we have achieved in the last few years meaningful, not only to a few people, but to all Ghanaians regardless of their location. The domestic regulatory environment must be designed to support the factories and the self-employed. The digitization agenda of government should be designed to help achieve a more conducive business environment for local firms not only to tax them. The external policy environment should support our industrialization agenda. Our trade policy, in its current form, exposes the local industries to unfair competition. No country ever achieved industrialization with such an over-liberalized trade regime. It is time to change it and make our own environment more conducive to local businesses.
The President mentioned the need to provide safety nets in the form of social protection support to the poor and vulnerable. This is very important because that is one effective way for Ghana to make its progress meaningful to our compatriots who cannot participate in economic activities due to illness, disability or old age, even as the economy grows and opportunities open up in various sectors. Our social protection initiatives must prevent people from falling into poverty, irrespective of their employment or economic status. We agree with the President that “Ghana is a land of opportunity”. This must reflect in our lives, socially and economically. As the President rightly observed “the test of how well our country is doing can, and should, be measured by how Ghanaians themselves feel about their situation”.
The impending general election scheduled for 7th December, 2020, naturally attracted the President’s attention in the SONA. He advised all Ghanaians to register when the Electoral Commission (EC) begins the registration exercise for the compilation of a new voters’ register. The President reassured the Good People of Ghana that Government, together with all stakeholders, is determined to ensure that the election is peaceful and orderly”.
Compilation of New Voters’ Register
In the last couple of weeks, we have followed arguments and counter arguments by various political parties about the compilation of a new voters’ register. Electoral Commission has justified a new voters’ register emphasizing the need for a credible voters’ register that confers “legitimacy on the electoral process”, “prevents electoral fraud”, and that allows “every eligible voter to vote only once”.
Some political parties led by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have indicated their support for the compilation of a new voters’ register. Other parties, led by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), are vehemently opposing the compilation of a new register for many reasons including the cost of compiling a new register, timing, election year tensions, among other reasons.
We recognize EC’s constitutional mandate “to compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law” and its independence under Article 46 of the Constitution which states that in the performance of its functions, “the Electoral Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of nay person or authority”. What it means is that we can only offer advice to the EC. And, thankfully, EC has demonstrated beyond doubt that it is open to advice that is why EC created the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and has recently created the Eminent Advisory Committee (EAC).
We would like to appeal to the political parties, individuals and civil society organizations that are opposing the compilation of a new voters’ register to present their concerns in a form of advice to the EC in a more diplomatic manner, either through the EAC or IPAC, for consideration. We are confident that the EC will consider these concerns against the background of its constitutionally-mandated responsibility to conduct and supervise all public elections in a free and fair manner.
The President touched on the deadly Covid-19 virus in his address. He expressed our sympathy and solidarity with the People of China. But since then, the Coronavirus has infected over 80 000 people not only in China but in many other countries including Italy, South Korea, Iran, Nigeria, and others. Over 3000 of those who were infected have died. There is a possibility of an outbreak of the Coronavirus anywhere in the world, including Ghana. We need to prepare for it. We are aware of the weaknesses in our health service delivery. But we also know that, in spite of these weaknesses, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has managed to deal with previous outbreaks of deadly viruses and adequately protected us from Ebola. We urge government to provide all the resources needed by the Ghana Health Services and related health institutions to prepare fully for a possible outbreak of the Covid-19 in Ghana.
The President ended his address with the reassuring statement that “Things are working in Ghana, and Ghana is surely changing”. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that Ghana changes for all Ghanaians but not for a few privileged ones.
- YAW BAAH
3rd March, 2020