The 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has promised a transformation of the country’s economy from an exporter of raw materials and a retailer of cheap imported goods to a modernised, industrialised one focused on value addition.
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 will 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 noted.
Nana Akufo-Addo made this known when he outlined a number of policy measures to help realise this vision at a fundraising dinner organised in London by the UK branch of the Young Executive Forum of the NPP Friday, June 10, 2016.
Ghana’s new status as a producer and exporter of petroleum, he said, offers 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 explained.
The three-time presidential aspirant noted that his government will introduce policy measures which will stimulate production, expand the productive capacity of the economy, and create jobs.
He assured that “the tax, borrow and spend approach of the Mahama administration” will be abandoned, in favour of policies geared towards the reduction in the cost of doing business to help small-scale enterprises flourish 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 abolition of VAT on financial services, removal of duties on the importation of raw materials and manufacturing equipment, amongst 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 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.
“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 implement a policy that will 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 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 will give the youth the practical skills they need to get a job as well as to 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 further explained.
The leader of the biggest opposition party also made a firm commitment to introduce a regime that will implement a policy for the election of District Chief Executives (DCEs) 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.”
In 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 will be appointed and empowered to tackle corruption.”
The restoration of teacher and nurses’ training allowances, he said, was non-negotiable, and “in doing so, we are still committed to our program of free senior high school education for all students at that level”.
He believes a system must be introduced to deepen the process of women’s involvement in the governing of the country and hailed “initiatives that led President Kufuor to establish the first Ministry of Women’s Affairs”. To him, “gender equity is a cardinal concern of our times.”
The creative arts and entertainment industry, he noted, will benefit from a fund aimed at supporting the sector to grow local talent and create jobs.
“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,” he stressed.