“In extraordinary times you should expect exceptional leadership from your Government. I truly believe we cannot ensure exceptional leadership without a collective effort”, the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has indicated to conveners of #FixTheCountry protest.
Mr Ofori-Atta, who was speaking at a Press Conference held on the same day on which the protest was scheduled to have taken place, said the country cannot be fixed by the government without the support of the citizens.
#FixTheCountry is a social media effort that is mounting pressure on the government to “solve issues affecting the country”.
But for a court order secured by the police, what started as a normal trend on Facebook and Twitter would have metamorphosed into a protest on the streets of the capital, Accr on May 9, a day set aside for the celebration of all mothers.
Speaking at the presser yesterday, the Minister acknowledged that these are challenging times for many Ghanaians and Ghana, like almost all the countries in the world, are living through rough weather.
“A time that has put a burden on the necessities of lives and livelihoods like never before in recent history and have heightened Ghana’s perennial problems”, he admitted.
He recounted that until Ghana was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the country was on course to achieving its objective of stabilising and growing the economy, creating jobs, especially for the youth, modernising, digitizing and formalising the economy, providing social protection for the vulnerable and creating a safe and secure environment for citizens and businesses to thrive.
“But ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in our 64 years of nationhood, a Ghanaian Government had to tackle a severe health crisis and its attendant economic crisis. The outbreak and the ensuing partial lockdown to contain the spread of the virus and protect lives brought socio-economic activities to a virtual halt, with the resultant loss of jobs and incomes, the collapse of businesses and loss of Government revenues”, he indicated.
Mr Ofori-Atta noted that the government didn’t sit aloof and watch the economy sink. He explained that the government took some decisive and unparalleled measures to protect Ghanaians but this came at a cost and this can seen in the sudden relapse in the debt situation from 62.4% (2019) – 76.1% (2020).
He, however, indicated that the good people of Ghana gave them the mandate to get things done and that will be manifested… as the government will move swiftly to address some of the issues that the #Fixtheeconomy protestors have raised.
The Finance Minister said he is working with the Minister for Water and Sanitation to immediately ensure potable water to areas with felt need, especially in the most urban areas, whilst he also works with Ministers of Roads and Highways, Transport and Interior to address congestion along Ghana’s major highways.
“We are fast-tracking the implementation of the US$200 million Jobs and Skills Programme to enhance job creation significantly. This intervention is designed to facilitate new and expanded private sector businesses to employ a lot more people.
“This we believe is a more sustainable way to rebuild this economy instead of expanding Government employment schemes”, the Minister said.
He also noted that starting this month, the government will be rolling out over 8 additional interventions under the GhanaCARES “Obataanpa” programme in the areas of health, agriculture, tourism, trade, digitization, science and technology, housing and financial services.
Mr Ofori-Atta also revealed that by the end of July, Ghana will have a new Development Bank that will provide long-term wholesale financing to the private sector through Commercial banks.