Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, says the vision of his government, God-willing from 2017, would be to transform Ghana’s economy from an exporter of raw materials and a retailer of cheap imported goods to a modernised, industrialised one focused on value addition activities.
This industrialisation, he indicated, would go hand-in-hand with improving the productivity of agriculture spurred on by the production and marketing of additional cash crops such as cotton, coffee, oil palm, cashew and maize, which would boost export earnings for the country.
“It is this twin-track of rapid industrial expansion and increase of agricultural productivity that will generate the hundreds of thousands of jobs that our young people need,” he added.
Nana Akufo-Addo made this known at a fundraising dinner organised in London by the UK branch of the Young Executive Forum of the NPP on Friday, June 11, 2016, where he outlined a number of policy measures to help realise this vision.
Ghana’s new status as a producer and exporter of petroleum, he said, offered the perfect opportunity to create a petrochemical industry, including monetising the country’s gas, to create a multibillion dollar gas feedstock industry.
“Our project is to make Ghana a regional production and manufacturing centre by weaving together our numerous natural resources such as our food produce, extensive cash crops, gold, bauxite, iron ore, oil and gas with our talents and energy to turn our nation into an economic powerhouse in West Africa and beyond,” he added.
Nana Akufo-Addo noted that his government would introduce policy measures which would stimulate production, expand the productive capacity of the economy and create jobs.
Thus, “the tax, borrow and spend approach of the Mahama administration” will be abandoned in favour of policies geared towards reducing the cost of doing business to help small scale enterprises grow, and to make the Ghanaian economy become globally competitive.
To this end, he assured businesses and their owners of a reduction in corporate tax rate, the abolishing of VAT on financial services, removal of duties on the importation of raw materials and manufacturing equipment, among other fiscal incentives, to stimulate growth of the private sector.
The NPP flagbearer also announced an “enhanced employment Tax Credit Scheme” to provide incentives for companies which would employ fresh graduates, to help curb the rising levels of graduate unemployment in the country.
Additionally, Nana Akufo-Addo said his government would put in place an effective legal framework to anchor fiscal discipline hinged on the passage and enforcement of a Fiscal Responsibility Act that could bite.
“It will require governments to declare and commit to a fiscal policy that can be met. It will include fiscal rules, including rules governing election year spending, provisions for transparency and sanctions, including sanctions on the executive itself,” he said.
On the environment, an Akufo-Addo government, he said, would put in place a policy that would lead to the effective management of forest reserves, the recovery of millions of acres of land devastated by open-cast and alluvial mining and the protection of our water bodies, stressing that “protecting our environment is a necessity, not an option.”
Referring to the NPP’s manifesto of 2012, which announced the introduction of apprenticeship and skills training programmes for the youth, including those failed by the education system, he reiterated his commitment towards the establishment of such a scheme as this would give the youth the practical skills they needed to get jobs as well as drive a new industrialised economy.
“In partnership with the private sector, we will facilitate and support rapid development of skills, including establishing apprenticeship training for graduates from vocational and technical schools,” he noted.
The NPP flagbearer also made a firm commitment to the election of District Chief Executives (DCEs) during his tenure of office, explaining that “the time has come to bring accountability to local government through competitive politics. The election of DCEs at the local level can no longer be delayed. This will bring a great boost to local initiative and local self-reliance.”
On tackling the rampant cases of corruption, which have become widespread under the Mahama government, he reiterated his commitment to appointing “an Independent Special Prosecutor with a legislative mandate to deal with corruption, who would be appointed and empowered to tackle corruption.”
The restoration of teacher and nursing trainee allowances, he said, was non-negotiable and that “in doing so, we are still committed to our programme of free senior high school education for all students at that level.”
A concerted effort in deepening the process of women’s involvement in the country’s politics and economy, he assured, would be made by continuing “with the initiatives that led President Kufuor to establish the first Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Gender equity is a cardinal concern of our times.”
He continued, “We have committed ourselves to establish a Zongo Development Fund as part of a broader Inner City Development Strategy to support development activities in the Zongo and inner city communities, and it is a commitment we are going to keep.”
The creative arts and entertainment industry, he noted, would benefit from a fund aimed at supporting the industry, growing local talents and creating jobs.
Concluding, he said: “We are going to develop Ghana into an ICT hub in the region”, explaining that “these are the broad frameworks of what we are going to do if we win.”