The minority in parliament on Friday, 9th February ,2018 presented to the public the true state of the nation address.
The minority leader Hon.Haruna Iddrisu stated that the President predictably failed to give a proper account of the trajectory of these indices and the history behind them as this would have revealed the fact that they are not attributable to any exceptional economic management strategy by his government, but rather the product of hard work put in by the erstwhile Mahama administration.
Below is the Statement,
TRUE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS PRESENTED BY MINORITY LEADER, HONOURABLE HARUNA IDDRISU, ON FRIDAY, 9TH FEBRUARY, 2018
A STATE OF DECEPTION
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
I warmly welcome you to this session on behalf of the Minority Caucus in Parliament.
Before proceeding any further, the NDC Minority in Parliament will like to express our shock and sadness at the news of the sudden demise of that exceptionally talented and amazing young Ghanaian musician – Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng popularly known as Ebony. We extend our deepest condolences to her family, her fans and the entire nation. We also commiserate with all those who perished in the fatal accident and pray that the good Lord will comfort their families and loved ones.
Shall we now observe a minute silence in honour of the memory of Ebony and her departed colleagues.
Ladies and Gentlemen, yesterday, Thursday, 8th February, 2018, His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, pursuant to Article 67 of the Constitution presented a statement on the State of the Nation. That constitutional injunction requires that the President gives a candid account of the true state of the nation.
The state of the nation address as delivered by the President yesterday did not only lack inspiration, it woefully failed to offer hope to suffering Ghanaians; indeed, it was a far cry from the realities that Ghanaians have been forced to live with since the NPP administration assumed office.
In the President’s opening remarks, he sought to create the impression that the Great NDC Party has deserted its founder. Isn’t it ironic that today, President Akufo-Addo has found it necessary to speak for Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings?
It must never be lost on this nation of ours that it is President Akufo-Addo who as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice under President John Agyekum Kufuor unilaterally stripped former President Jerry John Rawlings of all his constitutionally mandated entitlements, protocols, and courtesies.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we note that the President’s statement yesterday sought to paint a rosy picture of the Ghanaian economy. He recited a number of macro-economic indices which he says are pointing in the right direction and which show that the economy is on the right track. He cited the growth rate and inflation among other indices as evidence of this supposed economic performance.
The President rather predictably failed to give a proper account of the trajectory of these indices and the history behind them as this would have revealed the fact that they are not attributable to any exceptional economic management strategy by his government, but rather the product of hard work put in by the erstwhile Mahama administration.
It is trite knowledge that as far back as the middle of 2016, when elections were many months away, several international financial institutions had projected that Ghana’s economy was going to grow by over 7% in 2017 and close to 9% in 2018.The World Bank, IMF, the Economist Intelligence Unit among others all indicated that additional production of oil from the TEN and SANKOFA fields starting from the last quarter of 2016 was going to result in high growth rates in 2017 and 2018.
This was also going to be achieved on the back of the fiscal consolidation measures adopted by the Mahama administration under the Extended Credit Facility of the IMF to correct the slippages of previous years.
The attribution of the growth rate of 2017 and projections for 2018 to the economic management of the NPP is therefore misleading and paints an inaccurate picture of the true situation. Needless to say that this growth has not been accompanied by commensurate job creation – a reason why up to a million youth in Ghana are unemployed.
Additional oil production occasioned by the massive investments of the NDC government accounts for the high industrial growth which the President sought to appropriate for his government.
The drop in inflation which the President also touted is in fact the result of a trend which started in the last quarter of 2016 under the NDC government. This is a fact admitted to in the 2017 budget presented by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta. That said, it must also be pointed out that government’s inflation for the year 2017 was missed as was the revenue target for the same year.
Regarding the public debt situation, it was amusing to observe that unlike last year when the President waxed eloquently and stated our total public debt in nominal terms, he sought refuge under a misleading calculation of debt to GDP ratio which relied on end of third quarter 2017 figures.
In his address last year, President Akufo Addo pegged the total public debt at GHS 122.3 billion yet he failed yesterday to give a corresponding figure for this year. We are certain that the President conveniently neglected to provide information on our total debt as at end year 2017 because the figures will badly expose his pre-election propaganda about the subject.
Official figures as put out by the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Ghana peg our public debt at nearly GHS 140 billion as of November, 2017. Additional borrowing between that period and now coupled with the Energy Sector Bond of GHS 4.7 billion which the IMF and World Bank classifies as public debt means that this will balloon to about GHS 150 billion representing an increase of about GHS 30 billion over the January,2017 figure or 73% of GDP.
The most worrying observation about the NPP’s borrowing is that they have virtually no major capital investment to show for it unlike the NDC government that has the best record of capital or infrastructure development in the fourth republic with the GHS 87 billion borrowed in eight years under our tenure.
It is this grim statistic that the President cunningly failed to disclose in order not to appear as having gone back on he and his Vice President’s word not to borrow during the 2016 election campaign. We are all witnesses to the colossal borrowing they have been engaged in.
They have found out the hard way that haughty claims of expertise in economic management in opposition do not readily translate into performance in government.
Even more misleading was the President’s claims about the rate of debt accumulation. He claimed that the rate of debt accumulation had slowed from 36% in 2016 to 13.5% in 2017.The truth is that the 13.5% figure reflected the situation as of September, 2017. It is currently 22%.
We note also that the President failed to touch on the effect of his government’s economic policies on the people of Ghana. The President failed to show sensitivity towards the people of Ghana who are smarting under severe hardships brought about by the rising cost of living.
Contrary to his campaign promise to reduce the price of fuel, the commodity now sells at a staggering GHS 22 per gallon up from GHS 14 per gallon as of December, 2016. Hardly a week passes by these days without an increase in the price of fuel. We recall how President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia responded to smaller increases in accordance with the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. They claimed at the time that such increases were insensitive and condemned the government of the day.
At the time; dwindling world market prices from benchmark revenue of US$ 90 per barrel to an actual price of US28 per barrel meant that government revenue from the sale of crude oil was experiencing significant shortfalls. This compelled government to introduce the Special Petroleum Tax as a way of shoring up government finances.
At the present moment, increasing world market prices of crude oil have put government in a much better position in terms of oil revenue making the maintenance of the Special Petroleum Tax unnecessary. This is sufficient basis for government to remove the tax in order to lower fuel prices at the pump to bring relief to Ghanaians.
The maintenance of the tax has been compounded by a rapidly depreciating Ghana cedi leaving Ghanaians at the mercy of the market.
The President’s failure to speak on fuel prices and the NPA’s rationalization of the astronomical increases paint a gloomy picture of more hardships for Ghanaians. This is an economic reality which cannot be swept under the carpet through vacuous Presidential rhetoric.
Only two days ago, commercial drivers, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) and the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) staged a demonstration to drive home their frustration over the unbearable hardships. It is extremely insensitive on the part of President Akufo-Addo to ignore the plight of the suffering masses.
Even as the President claimed to have removed taxes on some items, the harsh reality on the ground is that most businesses and sections of our people are living under the excruciating yoke of steep increases in taxes. How can the private sector cope and how can they create jobs?
Spare parts dealers continue to complain bitterly about staggering increases in port charges despite claims of reduction in import duties. Many business groups and owners including the Ashanti Business Association have clearly indicated that their businesses are on the verge of collapse due to the heavy toll the 3% VAT Flat rate is having on them.
Ghanaians still await the promised reductions in electricity tariffs which the President illegally announced at the beginning of this year. We wish to remind the President that electricity remains more expensive than rent for most Ghanaians even as IPPs continue to clamour for upward adjustment.
It was the campaign mantra of the President and his party that Ghanaians were suffering. Today we wish to inform him that Ghanaians are living under unprecedented hardships and his penchant for long talk devoid of corresponding action has done little to ameliorate the situation. The suffering and hardship imposed on Ghanaians by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government has reached unbearable limits as economic conditions continue to deteriorate. The evidence of this is reflected in the astronomical increases in price of every conceivable item:
AHOKYIRE MARKET BASKET BEFORE 7TH JAN. 2017(GHC) ONE YEAR OF NPP GOVT 7TH JAN. 2018
2Bag of rice (25kg)
3Bucket of Tomatoes
4Tin of Milk
7Tuber of Yam
8Large size Tuna
9Box of Chicken
10Gallon of oil
12Bar of Key Soap
13Bag of Omo (300g)
16Cassava Tubers (25kg)
17Bag of Onions
18Pepper (small basket)
19Koobi (Small size)
20Roasted Plantain (Kofi brokeman)
23Gallon of Petrol
We were astonished to hear the President once again attempt to appropriate to himself credit for the resolution of the challenges faced in electricity supply a few years ago, popularly called dumsor. We had hoped that truth and candour will guide the President’s commentary on the matter.
Unfortunately, he does not appear to have imbibed these noble principles when it comes to dumsor.
The inescapable truth is that it was President Mahama who promised and delivered an end to dumsor. Indeed planned load shedding in Ghana was brought to an end on 24th December, 2015 over a year before the NPP came to power. In his first State of the Nation Address last year, Akufo-Addo himself acknowledged that dumsor had ended before he assumed office yet one year on, he turns around to take credit for the end of dumsor ironically at a time when dumsor appears to be returning..
Also the President’s claim that his government has resolved financial challenges in the sector through their work is at best misleading. The easing of the financial crunch in the sector is due largely to the introduction of the Energy Sector Levy (ESLA) which was vehemently opposed and criticised by then candidate Akufo-Addo and his party.
Till date not one megawatt of generation capacity has been added by the NPP government. It is therefore unclear how President Akufo Addo can muster courage to make such a dubious claim. Even though Nana Addo promised to reduce utility tariff, Ghanaians are paying more for electricity under this government than previously.
This year’s State of the Nation Address was delivered against the backdrop of mounting insecurity, and it was our expectation that the President will take the opportunity to assure the nation of measures aimed at curbing the deteriorating security situation caused by violent crime.
It is very sad and heart-breaking that a serving senior police officer, Inspector Emmanuel Ashilevi who lost his live in the line of duty when armed bandits attacked the Kwabenya police station barely three weeks ago received no sympathies or recognition in the State of the Nation Address.
The omission or deliberate neglect of the pain visited upon the Police officer’s family feeds into a prevailing narrative that under this government the security of Ghanaians is not a priority.
Once again, the President failed to take a tough stance on the terrorism and militancy unleashed by the many violent groups that were formed under his auspices as flagbearer of the NPP.
His inability to out-rightly condemn the existence of these groups and proscribe them render his rhetoric on their violent activities hollow and completely insipid. The daring attacks on state institutions and members of the public by the invincible forces, delta forces and all the blood-cuddling groups which have gone unpunished have served only as motivation for other miscreants to take the law into their hands. We wish to commend the president however for boldly referring to this miscreants as terrorists.
It has been possible for NPP militants to attack senior security officials at the Flagstaff House, attack courts, a security coordinator in the Ashanti Region and countless others and get away with it. All this while the President and his party have harboured these terrorists with no intention of disbanding them.
The inability of the President to take a decisive punitive action against these miscreants is a firm confirmation of the fear of many Ghanaians that an Akufo-Addo presidency will make the country unsafe.
This has stripped the President Akufo Addo of the requisite moral authority to deal with crime in the impartial and forceful manner that is required. For as long as the Militants of his party continue to exist and operate with impunity, the President cannot be taken serious when he speaks about ending crime and violence.
THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT SAVINGS
A major low point in the State of the Nation Address yesterday was the fight against corruption. The President displayed an uncanny eagerness to peddle anti-NDC propaganda of the most undesirable kind when he claimed that some GHS 800 million have been saved through the rejection of some sole-sourcing applications.
The President claimed that “in 2016, the Public Procurement Authority had 622 Sole Sourcing Requests. 597 of that number i.e., 98% were approved, and there were 25 rejections. There were 592 Requests for Restricted Tenders, and 587 (99.15%) were approved, and there were 5 rejections. Grand total of zero savings”.
He also claimed that “in 2017, my first year in office, 394 Sole Sourcing Requests were made, out of which 223 (56.6%) were approved, and 171 (43.4%) were rejected. There were 346 Requests for Restricted Tenders, and 167 (48%) were approved, and 179 (52%) were rejected. The savings, made over the year as a result, amounted to some GH¢800 million.”
Interestingly, now we know sole sourcing is not illegal. 56% of sole sourcing approvals under President Akufo-Addo cannot support the promise of using sole sourcing rarely and sparingly.
In his apparent haste to misinterpret these claims for partisan gain, the President left many questions begging for answers.
What procedure did he use to determine the alleged savings? If an application to sole source for a GHS 50 million project is turned down by the Public Procurement Agency (PPA), it doesn’t mean that the country has been saved GHS 50 million. It simply means the Ministry, Department or Agency (MDA) has to go back and use a different procurement procedure e.g., open up the project for competitive tender. The MDA may thereafter go through a competitive tender for the same project and end up paying GHS 50million, less or more than that for the project. So what is the basis for the ghc800 million savings calculation?
The President appears to have merely added up the all the figures for the rejected applications and is bandying them about as purported savings in a bid to mislead the public into thinking that some wrong was committed in the past which he has righted.
Also by making this claim that President has shown that he and his party’s portrayal of sole-sourcing as an example of corruption was false and contrived. If sole-sourcing amounted to corruption, why are they taking hundreds of such applications for approval? It needs to be emphasized that the rejection by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) of a sole-sourcing application does not necessarily mean that the project is bad. It simply means that the PPA does not think the circumstances for the sole sourcing request actually met the laid down criteria. The MDA may therefore go back to the drawing board and re-apply to using a different procedure.
Before an MDA goes to the PPA to request the use of sole sourcing procedure for a project, it should have gone through its internal procurement unit and procedure. If this is properly done in accordance with established criteria, the PPA should have no problem approving the use of the sole sourcing method. Having a lot of rejections from PPA means that the internal procurement units of the MDAs are not being properly utilised and that the appointees are not following strict rules in determining how to approach the PPA.
In looking at statistics, it is important that one looks at the total number of contracts given out by the MDA vis a vis the number of contracts sole-sourced. You may find that 100 contracts were given out with 30 sole sourced in Year A (i.e. 30%) as opposed to 50 contracts given out and 40 sole sourced in Year B (i.e. 80%).
As I indicated yesterday, the President has made it clear that sole-sourcing is a legal procedure open to the use of MDAs contrary to what they will have Ghanaians believe when they were campaigning for power.
Clearly, it is within the domain of the PPA to approve or reject an application. Using sole-sourcing procedure does not mean that an appointee or MDA has stolen funds.
DEFENDING CORRUPTION AND WRONG DOING
A major sour point in the President’s delivery yesterday was his impassioned defence of clear wrong doing on the part of his appointees. In one fell swoop he declared his embattled Ministers and appointees innocent of wrongdoing on account of what he claims are exhaustive investigations into the many acts of corruption that have rocked his government in the year under review.
The President claimed that every allegation of corruption against his appointees have been investigated and they have been cleared.
We are at loss as to how the glaringly corrupt BOST/Movinpiina deal and the farcical, cynical cover-up by his government can muster scrutiny let alone pass for a clearance from corruption. The facts show that multiple provisions in both the Public Procurement Act and the NPA Act were violated with impunity with the view to raking in undeserved profit. Completely disregarding procurement processes – 5million litres of contaminated oil was sold to unregistered and unlicensed Movinpiina Oil in very shady circumstances.
In order to cover-up for this obvious act of corruption and wrong doing, a bizarre report from the BNI purported to clear the MD of BOST, Alfred Obeng Boateng, even before a committee set up by the Energy Minister could begin its work.
We are also unable to reconcile the theft of GHS 22million worth of Premix under the watch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister, who deliberately ignored several reports of the theft from the National Petroleum Authority, with the assertion by the President that there was no wrongdoing on her part.
A Minister who appoints her direct brother to head the premix secretariat, supervises the theft of GHS 22 million worth of fuel and ignores reports of the theft can only be complicit in the dubious endeavour. It is deeply shocking that the President would seek to cover up such serious infractions and mount a vigorous defense for same.
Another example is the Kenbond saga which has become the subject of a damning verdict of the President’s cousin and Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta. We note that the President chose to lavish praise on him, branding him a national asset at a time when he has been found by CHRAJ for failing to declare some of his assets in contravention of section 7 of the Asset Declaration and Disqualification from Office Act (ACT 550).
The Finance Minister’s wilful breach of Ghanaian law and procedures for Bond issuance makes him a candidate for dismissal and prosecution not the subject of undeserved praise. We wish therefore to re-iterate our position last week that should the President fail to act in the national interest by sacking his Finance Minister and cousin, we would be compelled to bring a motion of censorship before Parliament to remove him from office.
There is also the Cash for Seats scandal whose sordid details are contained in the Minority Report which we were compelled to issue in light of overt attempts by the Majority members on the ad hoc committee set up to investigate the matter, to conceal the truth in a bid to save the blushes of the Akufo-Addo government. We note that even before the committee could finish its work, the President had prejudiced the outcome by stating publicly that nothing will come out of it.
The evidence on record shows clearly that proximity to the President at the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards was auctioned to the highest bidder. It is also firmly established that the Trade Ministry lent its image and credibility to this dubious enterprise and feigned ignorance of same. The Millennium Excellence Foundation raked in super-normal profits and attempted to cover it up by presenting forged documents to the committee.
The President’s defense of this was most abominable to say the least.
Put together, the above incidents and the President’s non-charlant approach to them, put out any glimmer of hope that he means business when he speaks about tackling corruption. It is obvious that to the extent that one belongs to the NPP, chances are that they will get away with the most glaring acts of corruption.
This also affirms our belief that all the talk about prosecution of corrupt officials is in fact a ruse to harass and intimidate perceived troublesome political opponents as a way of currying favour with the electorate.
We also note that the President was generous in heaping adulation and praises on a handful; of appointees most of whom are in fact underperforming. For instance the Interior Minister was described as formidable at a time when there is a deteriorating security situation under which police officers are being gunned down at an alarming rate and militants of the NPP have been on the rampage. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister was labelled forceful after superintending the biggest instance of premix fuel theft.
The Education Minister whose intolerance to constructive criticism of the troubled Free SHS has led to major problems in the implementation was called charismatic while the Defence Minister who is best remembered for peddling clear untruths about former Mahama President vis a vis the land on which his residence in sited, earned the accolade of “energetic”.
This cavalier bestowment of superlatives served to lower the seriousness of the occasion and left the impression that those Ministers who did not get a mention from the President were perhaps not in his good books. We are of the view that such overindulgence akin to a radio DJ issuing ‘shout-outs’ should be avoided in subsequent presentations.
BROKEN CAMPAIGN PROMISES
A major source of concern for us in the address was that the President made more promises after failing to fulfil almost all his campaign promises including those he has made as President. We recall how in August,2017,the President promised that 51 factories will commence by the close of that year under the one District one Factory mantra, only for 2017 to end without a single brick being laid to signal the start of the programme. The President once again promised that it will start this year. One can only wonder if this ought to be believed.
The President promised in last year’s State of the Nation Address that the Takoradi to Paga railway project will commence in 2017 only for the President to make excuses and re-promise.
We were told by Vice President Bawumia that the one village one dam promise will be fulfilled after the rainy season. The dry season is almost over and yet not a single trench has been dug to commence this programme.
Despite a promise to transfer a million dollars to every constituency every year starting from 2017,not one dollar has been transferred.
Even as we scratch our heads in search of answers as to why the Akufo-Addo government has so failed to deliver on these promises, the President served us a cocktail of more promises whose fulfilment one cannot readily vouch for. Ghanaians are wondering when the President will get tired of making new promises and at least focus on fulfilling the old ones.
We listened with a great sense of irony as the President who has virtually nothing to show in terms of capital expenditure sought to mock the work started by the NDC government of the Eastern Corridor Road. In a bizarre twist, he claimed that his government had reversed a decision to use funds from COCOBOD to complete portions of the road. This clearly explains why for the whole year that he has been in power absolutely no work has been done on the remaining portions of that road. The least the President can do is to show the nation the alternative funding arrangements he has made for the Eastern Corridor Road having cancelled the COCOBOD funding and not add insult to injury.
It is noteworthy that monies secured for the construction of interchanges at Pokuase/ACP Junction and Obetsebi Lamptey Circle as well as a bridge at Volivo on the Volta River are yet to be used for the projects.
We also wish to make clear that the works on the reconstruction of the motorway with interchanges was the brainchild of the Mahama administration and cannot be credited to the Akufo-Addo government.
The Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, the Kasoa Interchange, the Giffard Road, Burma Camp phases 1 and 2, the Flower Pot by pass and flyover, the Awoshie-Pokuase Road and Community Development project, the Fufulso-Sawla Road, portions of the Eastern Corridor Road are but a few of the many road projects embarked upon by the NDC under the leadership of President Mahama. The Akufo Addo government is yet to accomplish any significant road project to be in a position to mock the NDC.
The President waxed lyrical about efforts to transform the Aviation sector without any tangible proposals on how this is to be achieved. Even as we await a clear programme on how to transform the aviation sector we wish to recall that among the many projects embarked upon in the sector by the NDC government were the Tamale and Kumasi International Airports, the new arrival hall of the Kotoka International Airport, the newly-constructed Ho Airport.
Furthermore, we wish to serve notice that we will be on the look-out for any unprincipled appropriation and attribution of the ultra-Modern Terminal 3 project to the NPP government. That magnificent project was conceived and executed by the Mahama administration and nothing can change this fact.
In the railway sector all that we were served with was a reiteration of a promise to start work on a number of railway lines. The most significant developments in the railway sub-sector under the fourth republic occurred under the NDC government. The Takoradi to Sekondi via Kojokrom railway line was completed and fitted with two diesel trains to transport passengers over some 17 kilometres.
In addition to this, a Railway master plan was prepared to serve as a blue print for the further development of the sector. Before leaving office, over US$ 300 million was secured by the NDC government to finance the 80km Tema – Akosombo railway line.
The President stated that an ICT park is to be established under a partnership between Ghana and Mauritius. He however for the umpteenth time fail to disclose that this project is an initiative of the Mahama administration that did all the necessary preparatory work beginning from when I was Minister responsible for Communications.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we commemorate 25 years of the Fourth Republic this year, our governance system must reflect the maturity and high standard that the good people of Ghana deserve. Governance is a continuum and like a relay race, the worthy contributions of your predecessor who has handed you the baton must be duly acknowledged. The deliberate refusal by President Akufo-Addo to acknowledge the projects of former President Mahama except that of former President Kufuor even though he sought to busk in these projects cut a terrible image of the president. It did not portray him as a statesman and a leader who is capable of rising above petty partisan politics. President Akufo-Addo can do better.
The Minority is concerned that the President is reducing governance to merely making promises without accounting for earlier failed promises. Such conduct risks eroding the gains made in this fourth republic in building trust amongst the citizenry about the political process. If this iniquitous practice is not checked, Ghanaians will lose confidence in the democratic experiment.
We call on President Akufo-Addo to listen to the cries of the suffering masses and take urgent steps to alleviate the hardships Ghanaians are currently facing. There can be no plausible justification to keep fuel prices where they are now. This hardship is being exacerbated by the cost to the nation in taking care of the creature comfort of 110 Ministers and countless Presidential Staffers which the government refuses to disclose to Parliament in blatant disregard of the Presidential Office Act, 1993 (Act 463) – this cannot be the protection of the public purse we were promised. The numerous corruption scandals including the infamous outrageous budget of the Ministry for Special Development Initiatives are all leading to a situation where national resources which can be channelled into cushioning Ghanaians from excruciating hardship is being lost to a few pockets.
Finally, we wish to serve notice that no amount of insults, abuse of majority, obstruction, intimidation and rough tactics by the President and his party functionaries in Parliament will distract us from carrying out our constitutional duties and serving Ghanaians as a responsible and vibrant opposition. We will resist oppressors rule as our sacred national anthem enjoins us. We will not be cowed neither will we be perturbed as we serve our constituents with true conscience, a good heart and an unyielding resolve in the best interest of our dear nation – Ghana.
I thank you very much.
Daniel Koranteng Kwagyiri|ahotoronline,com|Ghana