President Akufo-Addo yesterday revealed that his administration’s audit and validation of GH¢11 billion arrears bequeathed to government in 2017 by Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration exposed the falsity in the claim, as almost GH¢6 billion had been saved for the state.
“The Audit Service has certified payments to the tune of GH¢5.5 billion, and rejected about GH¢5.7 billion cedis, representing a potential savings of 51% on these outstanding commitments. This shows the validity of our criticism that so much of contracts awarded in the Mahama era were inflated,” President Akufo-Addo told journalists at a media encounter at the Flagstaff House yesterday.
He therefore underscored, “I have promised to protect the public purse, and I am doing just that. Those who have done honest work and at honest rates for the government will get paid and paid on time so their profits do not get swallowed up in bank interests, and thereby threaten to collapse their businesses.”
President Akufo-Addo also used the occasion to respond to former President Mahama’s recent charge on him to pay road contractors in the country.
At an NDC ‘unity walk’at Techiman in the Brong-Ahafo Region recently, Mr Mahama, whose era as president saw government owing contractors billions of Ghana cedis – said Akufo-Addo had failed to match his words with deeds since becoming the head of state.
That, Mahama said, was because whilst in opposition the NPP leader accused him and his government of failing to pay contractors for work done.
But President Akufo-Addo had this to say yesterday, “I am paying them; in 2017, nearly GH¢1 billion (GOG – GH¢300,400,156.75; Road Fund- GH¢664,091,476.88) of the GH¢1.6 billion owed road contractors was cleared.”
In January this year too, he indicated, “We have disbursed GH¢125 million out of the remainder of GH¢600 million to the contractors.”
Apart from that, he also revealed that his government had paid GH¢826 million out of the GH¢1.2 billion loan contracted by the previous administration, for which the Road Fund was used as collateral.
“It is important to note that all these debts were accrued under the previous administration. I will also point out that much of the statutory arrears that we met, have been cleared – that is debts to the NHIS, the District Assembly Common Fund and the GETFund,” he disclosed.
Recounting the statements made in the run-up to the December 2016 elections about threats that sole-sourcing posed to the economy, President Akufo-Addo outlined a few figures to illustrate this point.
“In the year 2016, the Public Procurement Authority had 622 Sole Source Requests; 597 of that number (98%) were approved, and there were 25 rejections. There were 592 requests made for Restricted Tenders, and 587 (99.15%) were approved; and there were 5 rejections. A grand total of zero savings was made,” he said.
The president continued, “In 2017, our first year in government, 394 Sole Sourcing Requests were made, out of which 223 (56.6) were approved, and 171 (43.6%) were rejected. There were 346 requests for Restricted Tenders and 167 (48%) were approved, and 179 (52%) were rejected.”
As a result, the President added that “the savings made over the year, as a result, amounted to GH¢145.7 million; $146.2 million; €1.85 million and £22,400.”
The savings made, he noted, provide the incentive to open up government procurement.
He further revealed that the salary arrears that were paid to teachers last week to the tune of GH¢14 million were accrued from 2013 to 2016.
“The regime we have in place now is to pay government bills as they come due, and not accrue arrears. We are resisting the temptation to award contracts, when funds are not available to pay for the certificates as they come up. Those who conduct business with government will find that things are being done differently,” he pointed out.
President Akufo-Addo said since taking office one year ago, his administration had not only risen to the challenges, but had also demonstrated that doing things differently achieves positive results.
“We inherited an economy that was in distress, choked by debts and with macro-economic fundamentals in disarray. We had to do things differently, and those were my marching orders to all members of the government,” he maintained.
Upon assumption of office, President Akufo-Addo said his Economic Management Team sorted out the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals, and to find imaginative ways to deal with the oppressive debt situation.
“I am glad to report that the hard work on that front is yielding positive results. The macroeconomic fundamentals have seen improvements through improved fiscal and monetary discipline,” the president said, adding that “real GDP growth has rebounded, recording a growth of 9.3% in the third quarter of 2017, against the 3.5% figure for the same period of 2016.”
Meanwhile, he said, “Latest information indicates that inflation is at 11.8%, down from 15.6% at the end of December 2016.”
Touching on the debt situation, the president indicated that it had improved, with the annual average rate of debt accumulation of 36% in recent years declining to about 13.6%, as at September 2017.
“As a result, the public debt stock as a ratio of GDP is 68.3%, against the annual target of 71% for 2017, and end 2016 actual figure of 73.1%. Boring figures, I know, but believe me, they spell good news for the economy,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo noted, “We have been able to give better budgetary support to the constitutionally mandated institutions that hold government accountable, i.e. Auditor General, Parliament, Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), and the Police.”
He continued, “Thanks to the same figures which mean improving macroeconomic fundamentals, we have been able to transfer some GH¢3.1 billion of Tier 2 pension funds into the custodial accounts of the pension schemes of the labour unions, funds that have been outstanding for six years, and about which the labour unions had been loudly complaining.”
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent