21 Feb 2020

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address before parliament. The event is concerning Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution, which requires the president to brief parliament about the country’s state of affairs.

The President touched on issues about the economy, coronavirus and fight against galamsey while making a case he deserves another term and these were the fields that almost every Ghanaian was anticipating.

At the beginning of the event, both sides of the parliament were present but the minority members of the parliament, The National Democratic Congress (NDC) fulfilled their promise to boycott the SONA by walking out of the chamber, leaving behind placards with inscriptions questioning the governments support of the Electoral Commission's(EC) decision to compile a new voters register for the forthcoming elections. Also, in protest for the government's hesitation to release some 5% of the District Assemblies Common Funds. This happened shortly after the president took his seat to begin the speech. chanting some parts of the national anthem “...And help us to resist oppressors’ rule, with all our will and might forevermore” they left the chamber. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) on the other side dressed in white, clapped and chanted back at the NDC “Away, Away!!!”

Flashback:

In 2013, the NPP who were in the minority then boycotted the SONA which was addressed by the then president, John Dramani Mahama. Their action was in disagreement to the results of the 2012 election presented by the EC and also their wait on the supreme court to rule a petition they had presented concerning the same issue.

The Speech

Among the issues that Ghanaians were expecting the president to talk about was the Corona Virus (COVID-19), he first expressed sympathy to China as they’re battling the outbreak of the deadly virus. He said that the government is in constant touch with experts on the case who advise that the basic principle of health is to confine the disease to the area of its origin but there are measures put in place to ensure that the Ghanaian students in china are evacuated from Wuhan and brought back to Ghana when it becomes necessary and if that happens he expects that it doesn’t cause any dissemination of fear and panic among the general public. He stated again that the government has supplied US$500 to each student in Wuhan. He urged that nobody should try to score points by introducing ill-judged politics into the debates surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

Another important topic was on the Growth of the Economy. He cited the most important areas in which Ghana’s economy is thriving in like the balance of trade (that’s the difference between Ghana’s imports and exports), declination of the interest rate and the average annual rate of depreciation of the cedi, inflation reduction, upgrade in Ghana’s rating by sovereign credit ratings, issuance of the longest dated Eurobond ever and the attraction of the lowest coupon rates ever brought by the 7-year bond. The president stressed that Ghana’s economic growth has reflected to place Ghana among the fastest-growing countries in the world for 3 consecutive years. also, Ghana being featured as a top candidate for an economic leap in Africa by Bloomberg’s is an expression of confidence because it's going to lead to improved investments in Ghana’s economy and further bringing greater numbers of jobs.

Regarding banking sector reforms, H.E Nana Akuffo-Addo said it was right to bend flat some financial institutions that weren’t performing well enough to make the banking sector strong. He declared that the Receiver of the Savings and Loans and Microfinance Institutions will start making payments to their customers from Monday 24th February 2020. He asserted “I want to assure Ghanaians that we (the government) are going to hold those who have been responsible for these failures of financial institutions accountable, a process which has already started”. He went on to advise that the public learn their lesson and be cautious of banking institutions that offer unrealistic rates on deposits.

He mentioned some impacts the Year of Return initiative has had on the tourism industry and even beyond. His Excellency added that the program has helped the country become a canter of attraction in the African diaspora and the world. He expressed gratitude to all the people that came to Ghana from the diaspora and other parts of the world to make the year of return “a resounding success”. Nana Akufo-Addo, however, added that government is building on the foundation of the Year of Return to embark on ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative.

President Nana Akufo-Addo appealed to the Media Coalition Against Illegal Mining (Galamsey) to continue to back the government’s fight against galamsey, regardless of the tests associated with the fight. He noted that the efforts made by the government to curb illegal mining have yielded results like the 4,000 people who have so far received training in small-scale mining since assuming office in 2016. His Excellency said “University of Mines and Technology at Tarkwa took on the role of training local people in sustainable mining and by the time the ban on small-scale mining was lifted last year, almost 4,000 had received the training. The honourable house also did its part by amending the Mining Act to raise the penalty for illegal mining and prohibiting foreign nationals from participating in any in small-scale mining; the nation is grateful for the intervention of parliament.” He also assured Ghanaians of the government’s commitment to the galamsey fight and called on the Media Coalition not to be discouraged.

On NPP’s 2016 Manifesto promises Akufo-Addo added that the plan for the NPP is to occupy all the seats in Parliament after the December 2020 elections. H.E said that Ghana is in good health and in competent hands with his government at the helm of affairs. According to him, things are working in Ghana and the nation is surely changing drastically.

The president’s speech also covered, in broad terms, areas such as the economy, sports, education, health, security and infrastructure.

 

 

 

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