Today marks exactly 100 days since the NPP, led by its leader and 2016 flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, took over the reigns of governance from the National Democratic Congress. It was a change many had clamored for and eagerly anticipated considering the 'historic' margin of victory the NPP got in last year's polls. That margin, according to many, was a reflection of the goodwill the Akufo-Addo government was to enjoy in the coming days, but the question on the lips of many remains 'how long will the anchor hold' particularly after a series of unexpected events which many believe have overshadowed the positives of the Akufo-Addo administration in the last 100 days.
Critics of the President with bated breath, monitored keenly the President's inaugural speech during his swearing-in ceremony and when it came to light that portions of his highly acclaimed speech had been plagiarized, social media was awash with comments that would only get the international media talking about everything else but the president's plan for ensuring growth in the country's economy.
Hours later, the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin, took blame for the gaffe and apologized to Ghanaians. Though some were keen on the President apologizing for 'his own sins' many more Ghanaians were of the view the admission and subsequent apology by the Director of Communications was enough. This, as we can now say, was the beginning of a rather steady but rocky ride to the 100-day benchmark.
Appointment of Ministers
Then came the move that was to show clearly the direction in which the country was headed as the President announced (in batches) the ministers with whom he expected to help him deliver on the mandate that had been given to him by Ghanaians. A bold, decisive and competent team it looked, with pundits praising the president for the quality of personnel he had lined up as ministers in his administration for the next few years. But that praise-singing quickly turned to something else when in all, the president appointed a record 110 ministers and deputies. Many were obviously worried considering the amount of money the state was expected to spend on all these appointees and also at a time when the President had told all Ghanaians that the country was in difficult financial times. Representatives of government were however quick to respond to the claims saying the president had never promised a lean government and that 'the size would not matter once the president delivered on what was expected of him.' President Akufo-Addo by this move, became the President in Ghana's history with the largest government size since independence.
Undoubtedly 100 days of the NPP has been characterized by pockets of indiscipline and lawlessness across the country with members of the governing party going on rampage, seizing control of state property, assault of persons suspected to be members and affiliates of the opposition NDC, sacking and assaulting workers of the school feeding program, and in more recent time, setting free colleagues who were standing trial in a court for forcibly removing an appointee of the president from office.
In Accra, the Passport Office was attacked by thugs alleged to be members of the NPP Invincible Forces who were demanding to take charge of the security of the place.
At Sagnerigu District in Tamale, workers were denied access to the premises of the National Disaster Management Office (NADMO) and Youth Employment Agency (YEA) as the offices were locked by the Invincible Forces.
A group called the NPP Patriots also locked up the Rattray Park in Kumasi while some staff of the Boodi branch of the National Health Insurance (NHIS) in the Western Region were assaulted and properties of the institution vandalized.
At the Flagstaff House, there were reports of assault on a police officer who was stopped, pulled out of his car and beaten by members of the Invisible Forces who had taken over security at the Presidency when Nana Akufo-Addo was sworn into office.
On March 24, 2017, members of the Delta Forces attacked and threw out the Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator, George Agyei who had just been appointed by President Akufo-Addo to take office claiming he did nothing to help the party win power.
Thursday April members of the Delta Forces again besieged a Kumasi Circuit Court and set some 13 members who were facing charges for assaulting the REGSEC Coordinator. The raiding group also attacked the presiding Judge for keeping the suspects on remand.
Prior to this, the NPP Invincible Forces had allegedly assaulted a police officer, ASP Nanka Bruce at the Flag Staff House and had also forcibly locked up the office of the Eastern Regional Manager of the NHIA.
Many believe the impunity by the vigilante groups is due to the 'endorsement' of party big-wigs.
A business and economy friendly budget
In its first hundred days in power, the NPP administration assured Ghanaians of a budget that will reflect “the vision of building the most business friendly and the most people friendly economy.” This budget will highlight taxes that will be reduced and those that would be up.
Corporatete taxes will be reduced to about 20 per cent as against the 32 per cent that it’s stood under the Mahama administration. On Thursday, March 2, the Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori Atta presented the 2017 Budget which he branded as “Asempa Budget”. This budget highlighted the scrapping of excise duty on petroleum products, reduction of special petroleum tax rate on petrol from 17.5% to 15%.
Government also announced a complete abolishment of 1% special import levy, duty on importation of spare parts, 17.5% VAT on financial services, 17.5% VAT on selected imported medicines not produced locally, the 17.5% VAT on domestic airline tickets and the 5% VAT on real estate sales. There are many other taxes that will be replaced with others in the budget.
Though the budget promised all these, businesses are yet to enjoy the reliefs promised. Some spare parts dealers, though hopeful of better times, have expressed their disappointment in the delay in the scrapping of import duties on spare parts but government has called for calm as it works towards addressing bottlenecks that have held up the removal of the taxes.
President Akufo-Addo in his first hundred days in office will focus on establishing fiscal discipline. Monies wrongfully paid will be retrieved and spent efficiently. Some individuals who owe the state are still walking freely. The NPP administration is yet to retrieve the much talked about GHC51 million from Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
After assuming office, Ghanaians have since witnessed the NPP government presented it maiden State of the Nation Address which ultimately painted a gloomy image of the Ghanaian socio-economic space as well as the ‘asempa’ budget which has not only scrapped taxes, but also looks promising to restore fiscal discipline and stability.
Restoration of trainee allowances
The NPP assured nurses and teacher trainees it will restore their allowances that were “abolished” under John Mahama administration within 3 months after it assumes office. In March, GHC252.2 million was allocated in the 2017 Budget to pay allowances for nurses and teacher trainees. The allowances according to the Finance Minister, will be fully restored in September 2017 and all 49,032 Teacher Trainees across 43 Public Colleges of Education will also benefit.
As promised by the NPP during their campaign, students who qualify to enter into any public Senior High School (SHS) in Ghana from 2017/2018 academic year onwards will do that at no cost as government’s free SHS kicks start in September this year.
Right to Information Bill
The party also promised to ensure the passage of the Right to Information Bill if the previous government fails to pass it. The hundred days are here but nothing has been done by the Seventh Parliament about the RTI Bill which has been before the House since 2013.
National Identification Scheme
According to the NPP manifesto, the National Identification Scheme will be reintroduced in the first 100 days and expected to be completed within the first year of the NPP administration. This would help formalize the economy and regenerate taxes through the establishment of integrated national database from public offices. Processes of implementing this project has begun with stakeholder meetings being led by the Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia.
A good job done so far, the verdict from a section of Ghanaians who have been speaking to GhanaWeb on the President's 100 days in office. It remains to be seen however, how the remaining days of the 4-year tenure pan out as the Akufo-Addo-led administration strive to deliver on the 'Change Agenda' it promised Ghanaians.