Following our current economic miserization, many Ghanaians including myself, asked the President to halt his tour of the regions and to show leadership by addressing the nation. It is not clear whether he listened to these calls but the bottom line is, he’s addressed us.
2. To be fair, he said something that was very commendable and assuring in helping to ease the panic and tension that have worked to further exacerbate our economic crisis. Indeed, it was pleasant to hear the President saying “there would be no haircuts”. This was an emphatic statement that can slow down the rate at which people are disinvesting their monies from treasury bills for the purchasing of dollars, thereby worsening our woes. The assurance of no haircut is a direct and and straightforward message that can help in restoring calm and partly fixing our crisis. In my view, the President must be commended for this bold and audacious statement.
3. But beyond this, the President showed clearly that his government fundamentally has no solution to our crisis, thereby lending credence to the calls for his resignation. In the lead up to his election in 2016, he knew that not many Ghanaians paid taxes and there were several promises from his quarters to widen the tax net. Why hasn’t this been done in the last six year and why are we now going to do it?
4. It appears the President and his government are not really interested in the kind of austerity interventions that would help, probably because he and his appointees aren’t prepared to alter their opulent lifestyles. Why did he not respond to the several clarion calls for a downsizing of his government? Why does he want his appointees and foot soldiers to continue to ride in V8 vehicles even when they are going to buy groceries at the mall? Anecdotal evidence show that about 63 percent of fuel in Ghana are freely used by government Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Foot soldiers, Family Members, Friends and other Concubinage relations. Why was there no announcement of austerity to reduce this?
5. Moreover m, the proposal to continue to cut 30 percent salary of appointees, to my mind, is a mere propaganda. There is no evidence to show that appointees truly had their salaries cut by 30 percent as previously announced. Unless we see the payslips of these appointees and do a “before and after” scrutiny, I dare say that the President merely spewed propaganda on this issue. Also, telling us there’s gonna be 30 percent cut in the discretionary expenditure of MMDAs is not any serious announcement. This is because statutory payments are always in arrears and some MMDAs do not even receive theirs at all for many months.
6. Furthermore, why is the President now telling us about stringent measures to deal with importations? He told us that he was gonna deal with the Guggisberg Economy way back in the lead up to the 2016 elections. Why is he now telling us about this? We knew this in O’Level Economics (without tears) that a country would have serious balance of payment deficit if it doesn’t check importation. Why are we being told about this text book approach, now that we are in crisis and need better quick fixes?
7. The President said he’s had interactions with Labor Unions in discussing how our challenges could be fixed. Which Labor Unions did he meet? Labor Unions on public university campuses are on strike for his government’s arbitrary and unilateral variation of their conditions of service without recourse to them. Did he truly meet with Labor Unions? Why are some still on strike?
8. Another disturbing issue is that the President never admitted what his government did wrong in bringing us where we are, thereby seeking to perpetuate the false and very elementary view that we are where we are, because of only Covid, and the Russian/ Ukraine conflict. This is certainly worrying as it is indicative of the fact that there is no genuine commitment towards addressing our woes. Acceptance of one’s mistakes is one sure way to make proactive amends. Else we may continue to proffer very futuristic solutions that should have commenced in 2017, even in the midst of crisis that require immediate short to medium term approach to salvage our economic paralysis.
9. In the light of all the above, I will score the President’s Address 3/10 as he did not give much hope in the midst of our economic crisis, beyond the assurance of no haircuts.
PAV Ansah Street
Suro Nipa House