President Akufo-Addo will next week cut the sod for the construction of Tamale Interchange as part of the country’s road infrastructure development.
The road infrastructure development is under the $2 billion Sinohydro Bauxite Barter Transaction between the Government of Ghana and Sinohydro Group Limited of China.
The government said $1.5 billion of the amount would be expended on road construction across the 16 regions to enhance socio-economic activities and engender economic growth.
The Sinohydro Bauxite Transaction agreement, which was signed in 2017 when Vice President Bawumia visited China states that the Chinese firm would build roads, interchanges and bridges for Ghana and we would not pay anything for three years and hoping that by that time they should have completed the projects.
Afterwards, Ghana would mine the bauxite deposits estimated at $400 billion, refine them within the country to add value to the mineral and use the proceeds from the sale of the commodity to pay the Chinese firm.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, announced this when he delivered the keynote address at the maiden Town Hall Meeting by the Economic Management Team (EMT) at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra on Wednesday.
The event was held on the theme: “Our Progress, Our Status, Our Future”, to update the public on gains made so far and efforts to sustain them to engender economic growth and development.
The meeting attracted representatives of the civil society organizations, academia, traders, importers, freight forwarders and members of the public, which enabled them to interact with members of the EMT and ask questions on a wide range of issues pertaining to the economy.
Vice President Bawumia, who is the Chairperson of the EMT, said after the ground-breaking ceremony in Tamale Interchange, President Akufo-Addo would perform another ceremony in Takoradi for the construction of PTC Roundabout Interchange to ease traffic flow in Takoradi and its environs.
He said the government was pursuing inclusive transformation governance where everybody would be positively affected, adding that it had been building human capacity through the Free Senior High School Policy, Nation Builders Corps, Planting for Food and Jobs and reduction of the nuisance taxes and other social interventions.
Vice President Bawumia noted that the recent growth performance has been mainly driven by industry and agriculture sector, with the latter particularly reflecting the effect of policy interventions in the sector most notably the Planting for Food and Jobs.
This has resulted in an increase in the agriculture sector growth from 2.9 per cent in 2016 to 6.8 per cent by 2018.
The general consensus was that it was prudent for the nation to get its macroeconomic fundamentals right, which would set the tone for businesses to expand and attract the needed investment to create jobs and engender economic growth.
He said the gains experienced from the positive macroeconomic indicators was as a result of efficiency in expenditure management due to prioritizing and re-allocation of spending to areas most needed, noting that, fiscal deficit has been significantly fallen from 6.8 per cent of rebased Gross Domestic product in 2016 to an estimated 3.6 per cent in 2018.
Vice President Bawumia commended the Finance Ministry for focusing on aligning government revenues with expenditure to reduce the fiscal deficit and acknowledge the complementary role of the Bank of Ghana in managing the monetary and financial environment well.
“The growing confidence in the macroeconomy owes a lot to the prudent management of our public finances and monetary affairs over the last two years,” he pointed out.
Touching on the cedi depreciation, he said at the end of December 2017, the cedi accumulatively depreciated by 4.9 per cent (9.6 per cent in 2016) against the US dollar-the cedi’s best performance since 2011.
The cedi, he said, depreciated by 8.4 per cent in 2018 largely on account of emerging pressure and US interest rate increase.
The data on annual rate of depreciation in recent years showed the worst performance from 2017 -2018 but is better than the best performance between 2012 and 2016.
The start of 2019, he said it was characterised by the sharp depreciation of the cedi, which has since been reversed.
He noted that the cedi depreciation was on account of an IMF programme which required the Bank of Ghana to build up its reserves in a period of extreme demand pressures by some 800 million dollars, and had no room to intervene in the foreign exchange market in line with approved intervention policy.
This he said, partly explained the reason the Ghana cedi came under significant pressure early this year, which was exacerbated by speculation.
“The reason for the sudden reversal in the sharp depreciation that we observed was that the market corrected itself. Investors sentiments, expectations and uncertainties acknowledged that the fundamentals are much stronger than suspected and that even without IMF the fiscal and monetary discipline are assured,” Dr Bawumia explained.
As much as macroeconomic stability was necessary, Vice President Bawumia acknowledged that it was not sufficient but must be translated and reflected in the everyday lives of the ordinary Ghanaian.
“Our challenge is to make the distribution fair, especially to the benefit of the weak and vulnerable in society. This is the ultimate goal of inclusive governance,” Dr Bawumia emphasized.