From Maxwell Ofori, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA .
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has assured Ghanaian citizens living abroad that the much anticipated Representation of the People Amendment Law (ROPAL) 2006 (Act 699) (ROPAL) would be implemented in the 2020 general elections, if the Electoral Commission (EC) is satisfied.
According to him, though the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) had publicly cried that the law could not take effect next year, the EC is in a better position to make such a determination.
“The Electoral Commission has come forward to say that they are setting up a committee to undertake widespread consultations about the feasibility of bringing ROPAL in 2020.
“Already, the National Democratic Congress has gone on record saying that they do not agree that ROPAL should be applied in 2020. But all I can say is that if the Electoral Commission is satisfied that it should happen, it shall happen,” he pointed out.
President Akufo-Addo was speaking to the Ghanaian community at Worcester, Massachusetts, United States of America (USA), on Saturday, March 30, 2019.
The meeting formed part of the President’s visit to the USA, which began with a visit to the Harvard University, Boston, where he gave an address on developing the African youth, and ending the visit at Chicago.
In his remarks to the citizens at Worcester, whose attitude depicted a child that had seen the mother after several days, President Akufo-Addo indicated his support for the ROPAL, which will allow Ghanaians in the diaspora to also participate in elections back home, hopefully, the upcoming one.
Just before resuming his seat, President Akufo-Addo noted: “I’m fully in support of the ROPAL; but unfortunately, everything that has to do with elections in the country is not in my hands. Our constitution has made it clear that everything that has to do with the organisation of elections in Ghana is the exclusive reserve of the Electoral Commission of our country,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo took the people who showed appreciation for his visit through what his government had being doing since it took office.
One issue that has become topical, which perhaps the President could not have ended his address without touching on, was high import duties.
The President indicated that reforms to Ghana’s import duty regime, which will bring down the high duties prevailing in the ports, are in the offing, and will be rolled out soon.
Following many petitions for the state to intervene and review the high taxes and duties on imported items, President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance that the government was already in the process of dealing with the matter.
“We have realised from the studies we have done that our ports are not competitive, and the import regime in our country is far too high. We are dealing with it, and, very soon, the measures that government will roll out will become known to all of you. I am not talking next year, or in 6 months’ time, I am talking very, very soon,” he said.
Commenting on the exit from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, the President said that should be the last, a statement which attracted loud applause.
Ghana has been to the IMF sixteen times, a development the President was not happy about. According to him, the 2015 IMF programme had to be entered into because “the Mahama government had lost control over the management of the economy.”
It was, thus, necessary to go through the programme to restore a certain amount of discipline into Ghana’s public finances.
“Even when they left office in 2016, the issue was still at large. But, by discipline, by honest management of our public’s finances, we have brought the situation back to where it should be. So, we have exited the IMF programme,” the President said.
He continued: “What I am saying to Ghanaians, to all of us, is that, in the 62 years of our independence, this was the 16th IMF bailout programme that the nation had gone into. Let it be the last time that we would resort to an IMF programme.”
President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance that “from now on, we are going to maintain the discipline in the management of our public finances, so that we will never have to have recourse to an IMF bailout programme again.”