UG Opens the 71st Annual New Year School and Conference

By | January 17, 2020

The University of Ghana (UG) has opened the 71st Annual New Year School and Conference in 2020

H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

The opening ceremony of the 71st Annual New Year School and Conference has been held at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana. The ceremony which took place on Tuesday, 14 January, 2020 was on the theme, “Attaining Ghana Beyond Aid: Prospects and Challenges”.  The four-day conference is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana.

Addressing the gathering during the opening session, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic stated that the Ghana Beyond Aid (GhaBA) status is achievable. He urged Ghanaians to put their shoulders to the wheel as the country strives to define and craft its own destiny.

The President indicated that in order to realise this goal, Ghanaians need to have a change of attitude and also acknowledge the fact that the said agenda cannot be achieved overnight. Moving Ghana beyond Aid, according to the President, requires protecting the environment for the future by halting all activities that negatively affect the health environment, deplete the forest and destroy the water bodies. He noted that, the most rapid cases of economic and social transformation in history, involving the 4 Asian Tigers, generally took 30 years.“We need to do better than that, as we have already wasted enough time. To get to a Ghana Beyond Aid, we have to harness our own resources and deploy them creatively and effectively for rapid economic and social transformation,” he added.

H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo noted that achieving a Ghana Beyond Aid requires a deliberate qualitative change in all aspects of Ghanaian life, especially in the structure of the economy, the nature of infrastructure, the education of young people and the acquisition of skills and, above all, in attitude and also holding firm to the values that define Ghanaians.

The President acknowledged that Ghana was endowed with many natural resources but its current state did not correspond with the endowments, adding that poverty, mismanagement, corruption and high fiscal deficits have been the hallmark of the economy, which had been financed through borrowing and foreign aid. He indicated that his government was pursuing a different path to prosperity and self-respect to address the said challenges.

Touching on the economy, the President said the government had commenced concrete steps towards restoring micro-economic stability and economic growth, saying that after three years of discipline and prudent economic management, it had reversed almost all the bleak indices it inherited. Ghana’s trade balance account, for the first time in more than a decade, started recording surpluses in 2017 and had been maintained and would do same this year, while fiscal deficit had been brought down from 9.3 per cent in 2016 to 4.5 per cent currently, he noted.

On the issue of corruption the President indicated that allegation of corruption made against any of his appointees had been referred to the state-mandated independent bodies, such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police Service and, in some cases, Parliament. He gave the assurance that, individuals found culpable for the recent banking crisis will soon face the full rigours of the law. “We have begun bringing those responsible for the banking crisis to justice. We have one case in court, and if prima facie evidence of criminality is found in the other ongoing investigations, which, according to my information, is likely, then the perpetrators of the crises, both regulators and individuals, will face justice soon.”

In his address, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu said the annual New Year School and Conference provided a platform for Ghanaians of all walks of life to contribute to the discussion on pertinent issues of the economy. Speaking on the theme, Prof. Oduro Owusu said to achieve the country’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid, there ought to be fiscal discipline in all national transactions and across all sectors starting from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. The Vice-Chancellor seized the opportunity to challenge the government to promote the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) towards achieving the Ghana Beyond Agenda. He said adopting the IPSAS would enable the country to accurately report all transactions under the internationally accepted best practices for better financial reporting. The IPSAS are a set of accounting standards issued by the IPSAS Board for use by public sector entities around the world in the preparation of financial statements aimed at increasing transparency and accountability. Prof. Oduro Owusu said a transparent financial reporting would positively affect resource mobilisation and bring efficiency in resource allocation and utilisation towards creating more opportunities for the citizenry. He said the University of Ghana had adopted the standards and had already published its first audited IPSAS compliant financial statement for the year 2017, making it the first public institution in the country to adopt the accounting framework. He urged other public institutions to adopt the practice to ensure accountability and transparency in the country’s accounting systems “as we aim at building a better Ghana” he added. Prof. Owusu said as a university charged with the responsibility of training critical minds and producing world-class leaders, it was expedient to set the pace for the attainment of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.

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Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu

Prof. Akua Kuenyehia, the Acting Chairperson of the University of Ghana Council who chaired the occasion, lauded the School of Continuing and Distance Education for sustaining the Annual New Year School and Conference since its inception in 1948. She said the Ghana Beyond Aid vision by President Akufo-Addo was a non-partisan agenda, which should be embraced by all Ghanaians towards making Ghana a better place for all

Prof. Akua Kuenyehia

Dr. Ishmael Yamson, former Chairman, University of Ghana Council, who gave the keynote address called for a constitutional amendment to ensure continuity of development projects by subsequent governments. He said Clause 35(7) of the 1992 Constitution provides that “as far as practicable, a government shall continue and execute projects and programmes commenced by the previous government”. He said this was good for continuity and judicious use of scarce financial resources; stating that the same Constitution also provides that, “For the purpose of the foregoing clause of this article, within two years after assuming office, the President shall present to Parliament a coordinated programme of economic and social development policies, including agricultural and industrial programmes, at all levels and in all regions of Ghana”. Dr. Yamson said all previous presidents have taken advantage of this provision and discarded everything their predecessors did, including discontinuing projects and programmes often at a great cost to the country.

Dr. Yamson cited some national development blue prints which have been abandoned so far such as the Vision 2020 and the 40 Year Development Plan. According to Dr. Yamson, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) under the former Administration prepared a 40-year Long Term Plan which now appears to be shelved, and with it a waste of scarce resources. “So there is a reality that until this Constitutional Provision is removed or amended, we will have no consistency of economic policy which is critical for sustained economic policy focus and development.” According to the Former Council Chairman, Aid-dependency is a choice that countries make. He said a country could choose to be poor and aid-dependent or rich and beyond needing aid. “We have now chosen to become a country which does not need aid, so let us see what challenges are likely to confront us.” He indicated that the Constitution also gives the President extensive powers of appointments in the public sector which makes a “Winner Takes All” possible. This, according to Dr. Yamson, leads to a democracy of exclusion because only party-related supporters find their way at all levels of public sector administration. He mentioned that the “Winner takes all” system does not promote professionalism, competence and efficiency in public sector management.

Dr. Ishmael Yamson, former Chairman, University of Ghana Council

He concluded his address saying if the GhaBA Charter is to become a national agenda, then Ghanaians must improve the governance and the quality of management in the public sector and also review the Clause 35(7) of the 1992 Constitution to promote inclusiveness.

The 71st Annual New Year School and Conference which is expected to end on Friday, 17th January, 2020 was proudly supported by the Office of the Senior Minister;  Ministry of Finance; MTN Ghana; Ghana Commercial Bank who are the Lead Sponsors.

Other Corporate sponsors included Cocoa Processing Company Limited; Graphic Communications Group; National Pensions Regulatory Authority; Local Government Service; Summit Industries, Producers of Le Country Mineral Water; Youth Employment Agency and Cargill.

Dignitaries who graced the occasion included Senior Minister, Honourable Yaw Osafo-Maafo; Ministers of State, Honourable Members of Parliament and Distinguished Traditional Rulers. Also present were members of the University Council; Pro-Vice-Chancellors; Deans; Directors; Heads of Department; Members of Convocation; Students, the Media fraternity and the participants of the New Year School.

Cross Section of audience at the event

Some students present at the event

The Ghana Dance Ensemble and the Ghana Police Band put up performances during the event.

Ghana Police Band