Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has said the government is exploring ways to deal with inflation and the rising cost of living in the country.
According to him, the current crisis – major increase in energy cost and food prices-will ultimately be addressed by expanding Ghana’s production of food and other commodities used in the country.
“If it is a food crisis, we need to increase food production and that is how we want to tackle it in Ghana,” Dr. Bawumia told Kenyan TV station during his recent visit to the country for the inauguration of President William Samoei Ruto.
He stated that the cost of living across the world had increased phenomenally due the COVID-19 pandemic, noting, “It disrupted the global supply chain and increased shipping cost, almost 10 to 12 folds.”
“Just when we thought of recovering, then you have Russia and Ukraine come on top of that, and you have this major increase in energy cost and food prices as a result,” he asserted.
The Vice President said these external phenomena had affected virtually every country, and continued that Ghana has been no exception like Kenya.
He indicated that the rise in food and energy prices have brought about inflation and exchange rate consequences, pointing out, “They have really squeezed the budget in that respect.”
“On the monetary policy side, the central bank is trying to contain inflation. Through their monetary policies, there have been a number of interest rate increases to try to contain the situation,” he intimated.
“Government continues to offer Free Senior Secondary School education to our citizens which also continue to lessen the burden on families in terms of cost of living,” he pinned.
On the energy side, Dr. Bawumia said it is a little more difficult because Ghana is a net-importer of oil and is therefore blown in the direction and dictates of the international market.
“We are hoping that sooner or later the Ukraine crisis will abate and bring down energy prices for all of us. Government is continuously looking at ways to deal with it,” he stressed.
The Vice President said the two have some things in common in terms of the visions and aspirations espoused by the founders of the two countries.
“We have a sizable Kenyan community in Ghana and you have a direct flight from Nairobi, and there are more commercial links between Ghana and Kenya.”
According to him, there is a need for the two countries to cooperate towards better economic gains. “We needed to remain united and it is today manifesting itself in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area,” he stated.
He explained, “It is important that African countries trade among us because our trades have largely been with our colonial masters in terms of the pattern. The more we trade among ourselves we believe that the more jobs can be created.”
Dr. Bawumia stated,“There are a lot of opportunities and potentials for us to realise. You talk about bottlenecks, in the area of trade, the linkages in terms of logistics, transportation are the key bottlenecks.
“One of the areas where we have thought was a major bottleneck was in terms of payment and settlement, but recently I launched the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System and it is back-stocked by the Afriximbank working in collaboration with the central banks,” he posited.
He explained that a Kenyan in his country does not need to worry about buying a third currency like the dollar to pay for goods bought in Ghana, adding, ‘You can trade in your local currency.’
“This is a major innovation and I think that will help us bridge the gaps that we have in the payment and settlement area. It is important that we open up the sky for aircrafts, and we need to build up the infrastructure links – rails and roads across the continent,” he said.