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Ghana’s president acknowledges tough times but holds out better future

Accra, Ghana - Ghana’s president John Dramani Mahama, has acknowledged the tough times his country is going through but gives the assurance that the difficulties are temporary. He said in his State of the Nation address to Parliament on Tuesday that painful but important measures were being implemented that would produce positive results.

The president said the economy was 'resilient' and 'strong', adding: “Despite the short-term challenges we face, our economic fundamentals remain sound and our mid-term goals are bright...I assure you we shall begin to see the benefits of the sacrifices we are making very soon.”

Ghana’s economy has hit turbulence in the past few months, with inflation hitting a three-year high of 13.5% in 2013, trade deficit of US$3.4 billion for the first 10 months of last year, loss of some US$1.3 billion last year following a slump in its two top exports - gold and cocoa - and the local currency, the Ghana cedi, depreciating by about 6% this year.

However, President Mahama said the economic prospects were bright as growth had continued to be robust.

GDP growth for 2013 is estimated 7.4 per cent, he said, adding “we still retain our vision to accelerate and maintain GDP growth at above 8 per cent going forward”.

He said the services sector registered strong growth while the industry sector, which had witnessed sluggish growth over the last couple of years, posted a remarkable increase of 9.2 per cent.

President Mahama stressed that the country needed to change the fundamental economic structures of the colonial period when Ghana was seen as providing raw materials and importing finished products.

The President noted that last year the country spent US$1.5 billion to import rice, sugar, fish, tomato and basic cooking oil which could be produced in Ghana, saying it was about time assistance was given to local investors to increase the production of local food.

“If this money had been retained and spent in Ghana it would have gone into the pockets of Ghanaian entrepreneurs which would subsequently remain here to boost the economy.”

He urged Ghanaians to patronise goods made in Ghana, saying he was wearing a good pair of shoes produced locally.

“I wish to assure the good citizens of Ghana that as to the taste of any bitter medicine, this turbulence we are going through is temporary,” he said.

President Mahama said the vision of his government was to bridge the growing inequality gap between the rich and the poor to promote stability and economic development.

Pana 26/02/2014