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Ghana: Press focuses on finance minister’s pledge to commit more funds to infrastructure, others

The finance minister’s pledge that the government will commit more funds into infrastructural development in Ghana if the Akufo-Addo-led government is retained and the promise of former President John Mahama, to create sustainable jobs for the youth if he wins the December 7 presidential election are the leading stories in Ghanaian press on Thursday.The Graphic reports that Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has said the government will commit more funds into infrastructural development in Ghana if the Akufo-Addo led government was retained on December 7, 2020.

Delivering the 2021 first-quarter budget statement in Parliament on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, Mr. Ofori-Atta said key among the developments will be affordable housing.

“In 2021, we will see significant investment in infrastructure, especially affordable housing. These interventions will create more jobs and enhance artisanal skills.”

“A few days ago, my colleague Hon. Atta Akyea and I joined H.E President Akufo-Addo to commission 204 new houses at Tema Community 22. These houses were largely constructed and supervised by local contractors and consultants under the National Mortgage and Housing Fund Scheme (NMHFS). This project was completed in nine-months, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and created over 1,500 jobs,” he said.

He assured that the government will “replicate this housing model across the country alongside the agenda 111 district hospitals program”.

The newspaper says that the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta has said that Ghana is making economic progress and “there is no turning back” to the days of Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) tag.

The Minister said the decision of the President John Kufuor administration to sign Ghana unto the HIPC initiative was due to the poor economic situation inherited from the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in January 2001.

Delivering the 2021 first-quarter budget statement in Parliament on Wednesday, [October 28, 2020], Mr. Ofori-Atta said the John Mahama government failed to maintain the country’s economic gains and again took the country into an IMF programme.

“In 2001, Ghana had no choice but to swallow her pride and to sign up to the HIPC initiative. A legacy left by the outgoing NDC government. Thankfully, President John Agyekum Kufuor got us to completion in record time and came out of HIPC. By 2014, barely two years in office, President Mahama’s home-grown policy failed and Ghana signed up once again unto an IMF programme,” he said.

Mr. Ofori-Atta’s comment comes on the back of claims by some members of the opposition NDC that Ghana had been re-enlisted unto the IMF and World Bank’s HIPC initiative.

The Graphic also says that presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President John Dramani Mahama, has said he will focus on the creation of sustainable jobs for the youth if he wins the December 7 presidential election.

Speaking at an interactive engagement with professional groups at the third edition of the Leadership Dialogue Series organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) in Accra last Monday, he said Ghanaians could trust him to deliver on his job creation agenda because of his track record.

“In my first administration as President, I promised to deliver first-class infrastructural projects and that I did and it’s visible all over the country. In my next administration, I have said we will focus on the creation of jobs,” he said.

Mr. Mahama, who made himself available for scrutiny by leaders of the various professional groups in the country, answered questions posed by the Founder of the Alliance for Women in Media in Africa, Ms. Shamima Muslim, and the Head of the Department of Public Management and International Relations at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Dr. Lord Wawuko-Yevugah, in a panel discussion.

He also responded to questions by professional groups, including the Greater Accra Market Women Association, the Ghana National Association of Private Schools, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), as well as individual professionals, such as lawyers, teachers and doctors, who were present at the event.

The Times reports that Trades Union Congress (TUC) has asked government to put measures in place to ensure that lower- and middle-income earners in the country benefit from the affordable houses being constructed under the National Mortgage and Housing Finance Initiative (NMHFI).

According to the Deputy Secretary General of the Union, Mr. Joshua Ansah, oftentimes when governments come up with such initiatives, the targeted beneficiaries did not have access to them, as the rich rather bought them.

“The situation where we will have the rich in society acquiring these homes and renting them out to workers is something that we would be happy if a mechanism is put in place to avert,” he said.

“We, therefore, appeal to the government to ensure that lower- and middle-income earners are the real owners of the houses,” he said, and urged public sector workers to immediately apply to own such houses.

Mr. Ansah made this appeal on Monday at the opening of the GH₵45-million estate having 204 housing units at Tema Community 22 for nurses and teachers in the community.

In addition, the Secretary General asked the government to consider granting exemptions on VAT (Value Added Tax) and customs duties on building materials, as well as plants and equipment imported into the country, exclusively for the affordable housing projects.

He asked the government to speed up the process of developing and passing the proposed National Housing and Asset Ownership Act, which would ensure the mandatory contribution of workers towards house ownership or rental payment.

Published on 28.04.2020

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