ACCRA, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has painted a gloomy picture of the national economy and called for consensus building towards eradicating corruption and achieving economic prosperity for the well-being of all citizens.

Deliving his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) since his election last December, he told Parliament here Tuesday that the government would adopt tough, prudent and innovative policies and reforms to restore fiscal discipline and sustainable economic growth; and called for co-operation from all parties towards achieving the Ghanaian dream.

On the current economic situation, the President mentioned the high and rising public debt, high fiscal deficit, low economic growth, high rate of unemployment, high electricity tariffs and high non-performing loans, among others, as symptoms of deeper structural problems, which he said, required a range of reforms and policies, to reverse.

The President explained: “Six weeks after taking office, it is unfortunate to state that our worst fears have been confirmed plus a few unpleasant surprises, as well …..”

The country’s debt stock, he said, stood at 122 billion cedis (about 9.3 billion US dollars), which was about 74 per cent of thecountry’s gross domestic product (GDP) as at the end of 2016.

The President, who prevailed against intermittent heckling from the Minority side in Parliament, however, added that the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians did not elect him to complain about the dwindling economy, but to fix it. “I was elected to fix what was broken and my government and I are determined to do just that.”

He said the Minister for Finance would lay out in Parliament in early March a road map to take the economy from its current predicament and sustainable path to recovery, he said. “The Government has the programme, competence, and the goodwill of the people to turn things around; by the grace of God, we will succeed,” he assured.

President Akufo-Addo said it was imperative to boost confidence in the economy for increased private sector investments and productivity; therefore, his Government would undertake the requisite institutional reforms to create an enabling environment for Ghanaian entrepreneurs to rise and thrive both domestically and internationally.

”The government will maintain a stable macro-economy, institute measures to reduce the interest rate, the reduction of tax burden on enterprises, provision of affordable and reliable electricity, setting up of stimulus package for existing Ghanaian industries to improve their competitiveness as well as implementation of public-private partnerships, ”he assured.

He said the Government would also create employment avenues anchored in agriculture through the provision of improved seedlings; fertilizer, dedicated extension services; all-year irrigation; processing and industrialisation.