Government providing critical help to households, not freebies - President Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo says his administration is providing critical support to millions of Ghanaians in the midst of the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the average Ghanaian and the National economy as a whole.

President Akufo-Addo in April this year announced the reduction of electricity tariffs by half and provision of potable water for free to all Ghanaians for the months of April, May and June to make up for lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The offer was extended by the President for another three months, that is, July, August and September.

However, some political actors in the country including former president Mahama and flagbear of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama, have described the interventions of government as freebies by the Akufo-Addo administration.

President Akufo-Addo in his 15th Address to the Nation today the 16th of August 2020 indicated that his government knows that "the pandemic has adversely affected many lives and livelihoods and it is for this reason that Government has implemented several measures such as free water and electricity, and funding to support small businesses, and tax reliefs, amongst others, to cushion the effect of the pandemic".

"We are not providing freebies, we are providing critical help to households, families and businesses, in the midst of this pandemic, because we care. It is my conviction that, in times of crises, it is the duty of a responsible and sensitive Government to protect the population, and provide relief" President Akufo-Addo said.

*The Case Situation in Ghana*

According to the President, as at 24th July, the number of active cases, that is, persons with the virus, stood at three thousand, three hundred and seven (3,307).

"As at Saturday, 15th August, three weeks later, the number of active cases stands at one thousand, eight hundred and forty-seven (1,847)" President Akufo-Addo observed.

This the President says "is a clear indication that Government policies are working". "Currently, there are no recorded COVID-19 cases in the North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West Regions, and I charge their residents to do everything possible to maintain that situation" President Akufo-Addo noted.

President Akufo-Addo continued "Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central, Eastern, and Western continue to be the Regions with the highest number of active cases. Thus far, a total of forty thousand, five hundred and sixty-seven (40,567) persons have recovered from the virus. This means our recovery rate has improved from eighty-nine-point five percent (89.5%) to ninety five point one percent (95.1%) in three weeks. Our death rate continues, mercifully, to be low at zero-point five percent (0.5%). Happily, there are no backlogs of tests at any of our testing centres, meaning that situational reports are up to date. Indeed, tests results that used to take weeks are now available within forty-eight (48) hours. We have, so far, conducted four hundred and twenty-seven thousand, one hundred and twenty-one (427,121) tests".

"These statistics undermine, as unfounded, the claim that Ghana has lost the battle to defeat COVID-19. There can only be one simple reason for this baseless assertion, and that is political expediency. But, as I have said before, do not begrudge those who make such statements, they need to make them to continue to try to stay relevant" the President further stated.

*Voters Registration Exercise*

On the just ended Electoral Commission (EC) voters registration exercise, President Akufo-Addo commended the Commission for a transparent and successful exercise.

"The Electoral Commission has just completed the successful compilation of a voters’ register ahead of the conduct of the 2020 general elections in December. On behalf of the people of Ghana, I congratulate warmly the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Jean Mensa, her two Deputies, Dr. Eric Asare Bossman and Mr. Samuel Tettey, and the entire Commission for the efficient, safe, transparent nature of the registration exercise, where, for the first time in our nation’s history, Ghanaians were provided with daily updates of the numbers of eligible voters registered, together with specific age, gender, regional breakdowns, and breakdowns of identity documents. All eligible voters were given the unfettered opportunity to register, a process that was fully embraced by the mass of the citizenry" President Akufo-Addo said.

"There were those who expressed various degrees of hysteria and negativity towards the exercise, with some, who swore heaven and earth to resist the compilation of the register at the peril of their lives, ending up registering. There were also those who offered delicate, personal sacrifices in the event of the register, again, ending up registering. And, there were those who claimed that, in the midst of a pandemic, the registration exercise should not be conducted, with some warning of an “explosion” in our case count and very high numbers of deaths, should the exercise go ahead. By the grace of God, the work of the Electoral Commission, and the effective measures put in place by Government, these prophecies of doom did not materialise. There were, nonetheless, deeply regrettable, isolated incidents of violence, which I condemn unreservedly, and which I expect the Police to deal with without fear or favour, but the exercise was generally peaceful" President Akufo-Addo added.

*Believe in Ghana*

President Akufo-Addo reiterated his believe in the Ghanaian people to over challenges and to rise above any difficulties that threaten the existence of the country.

"Fellow Ghanaians, the remarkable nature of us, the Ghanaian people, the first colonised people in sub-Saharan Africa to gain their freedom and independence from foreign rule, is manifesting itself again. In the midst of the pandemic, we have been able to compile a voters’ register, arguably, the most credible voter register in our history; our democratic institutions continue to function effectively; there continues to be vigorous public debate on issues of public policy; respect for the rule of law continues to be central to our governance; our economy, despite the severe shocks of the pandemic, is proving to be resilient, and is poised for rapid recovery; our agriculture is performing so that, despite the disruptions of the pandemic, food is still abundant in our markets; and the virus itself is being fought systematically. Indeed, a stronger, healthier Ghana is being built before our very eyes, and the great majority of Ghanaians can see it" President Akufo-Addo stated.

"Let us continue down this path, so that the dreams of freedom and prosperity that inspired the great patriots, who founded our nation, can find expression in our generation" the President added.