Accra, Ghana - Ghana’s 56th independence anniversary which fell on 6 March and the 2013 budget were some of the major stories covered by the Ghanaian media this week.
The lead story in the state-owned Daily Graphic on Ghana’s Independence Day celebrations had the headline “Let's embrace change - Prez Mahama urges Ghanaians”.
The story said President John Dramani Mahama, in his address at a parade of school children and security services at the Independence Square in Accra, appealed to all Ghanaians to embrace the wind of change that was intended to make the nation a better place for all.
President Mahama also asked Ghanaians to take collective responsibility for the challenges confronting the nation and contribute meaningfully towards its betterment.
“Each and every one of us has a responsibility to make meaningful and constructive contributions towards the growth and betterment of this nation. We owe that much to ourselves and to our children who will inherit this land. We owe that much to all those who fought for us to have a place to claim as ours and call Ghana,” he said.
The Graphic quoted President Mahama as saying: “We must work together as a team; we must remember that the words we speak matter.”
President Mahama expressed grave concern over the negative attitude among a majority of Ghanaians which, in the long run, affected the well-being of the people.
The pro-opposition Daily Guide carried the Independence Day speech of the president under the headline, “We're in crisis - Mahama declares”.
The newspaper said President Mahama could not but make an open admission that the nation was in an electricity and water crisis.
The newspaper said the President seemed not only concerned but also worried about the current challenges, promising to work with the utility service providers to ensure a solution in the shortest possible time.
“Our economy is burdened with a major energy and water crisis. I have already visited Aboadze, Bui (electricity generating plants), Daboase, Kpong and Weija (water treatment plants) to inspect and ascertain the progress of ongoing projects aimed at increasing our electricity and water supplies”, he said.
Speaking on the theme, “Partnership and Innovation to building a better Ghana”, the President added, “We are working hard to bring this crisis to an end, and every bit of assistance will take us one step closer to that goal.”
“While we await the complete resolution of the utility problems, I wish to make a personal and passionate appeal to you my countrymen and women, to demonstrate a high sense of individual responsibility by taking a stand against the abuse and misuse of water, electricity, and other public services,” the president said.
“2013 budget unveiled,” was the headline of the Graphic on the budget.
The story said following strong public criticism of the size of the country’s budget deficit (12.1% of GDP), the government has decided, among other things, to implement periodic upward or downward adjustments of petroleum products to avoid severe disruptions to public and private sector output and financial planning.
Presenting the 2013 Budget and Economic Policy of the Government to Parliament in Accra finance Minister, Mr. Seth Terkper, said the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) announced increases in petroleum prices to reasonable levels but they were still below the full cost.
“Government will take seriously, the suggestion to implement periodic upward or downward adjustments to avoid severe disruptions to public and private sector output and financial planning.”
The minister also said that the government would continue to identify credible sources of financing infrastructure projects to curtail costly and ad hoc short-term borrowing.
The purpose, he explained, was to curtail overreliance on short-term instruments such as treasury bills to finance the capital budget and deficit.
The headline of the Daily Guide read, “No light No water. Solution missing in 2013 budget”
The pro-opposition newspaper said the 2013 budget statement of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government was presented to Parliament by the new Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper, with very little hope of reviving the crippling economy which is faced with serious energy and water crises.
“The budget offered no solution to the biting water and power crises confronting Ghanaians, as the minister only mentioned long-term solutions, giving indications that Ghanaians were in for the worst.”
The newspaper said the budget, with suffocating deficit and struggling agricultural sector, which is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy, really did not inspire any confidence in the future of the economy.
“The Minister only said cogent measures would be put in place to resolve the economic challenges the country is facing.”
The state-owned Ghanaian Times had the headline, “Economy will be well managed” with the story quoting the finance minister as saying Ghanaians had reason to be confident in the economy, judging from its overall performance despite the global economic challenges.
'We must understand that if we work together to overcome the current challenges, we all stand to benefit from opportunities to be created. We must and should not seek refuge in blame games,' he said, adding that the economy would be well managed to achieve targets in the budget.