• Workers of Ghana, the onset of this virus has not only led to job losses, but has also revealed the ingenuity and can-do spirit of the Ghanaian, thereby creating jobs. It has stimulated our capacity to produce for ourselves, and is making us depend on the things we make and grow for our own survival.
• Stop the stigmatisation of recovered persons of COVID-19 as it will rather drive people away from getting screened, tested and treated.
Address By The President Of The Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, At The May Day Celebration, On Friday, 1st May, 2020.
Workers of Ghana, I am happy to be able to join you on this special day set aside to celebrate workers across the world, May Day, which is, annually, the occasion for energetic, enthusiastic parades and joyful celebrations to acknowledge and pay tribute to the great contribution the toil of working people make to the lives of societies and nations.
Unfortunately, this year’s celebration is a muted one because of the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, which is affecting all the nations of the world. That is why we are having to commemorate this year’s special occasion in the studios of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, instead of Independence Square, and I am glad that the Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr. Yaw Baah, invited me to be a part of this celebration, which is being held in this unique manner. It was an invitation I could not turn down, because we have to commemorate May Day, whatever the circumstances. GBC is to be warmly commended for assisting in this initiative.
So, let me, on behalf of Government and the people of Ghana, wish all workers a Happy May Day celebration. We recognise and appreciate the efforts and sacrifices you have made towards the construction of the happy and prosperous Ghana we seek, and, on this day, I say a big ayekoo to each one of you.
Since I became President, on 7th January, 2017, some three and a half years ago, I am glad to state that the relationship between Government and Organised Labour has been one of cordiality, co-operation and mutual respect. I continue to be reassured by the determination of organised labour and its leadership to rally behind government to create a progressive nation, buoyed on by faster economic growth rates, and driven by the quest for decent jobs. I have been heartened by this, and I am determined, for as long as I remain President of the Republic, to continue even more firmly on this path of co-opetration and collaboration on which we have embarked.
Workers of Ghana, job creation is one of the most important priorities of this government. It is the thrust of the social contract, and over the course of our stay in Government, we have taken bold, innovative and urgent steps to realising this. Indeed, the latest Ghana Living Standards Survey states that the rate of unemployment, which stood at 11.9% in 2015, dropped to 7.3% in 2019. By the same token, our GDP has been growing over the last three years at an average of seven percent (7%) per year, up from the 3.4% we inherited in 2016. Ghana, in this period, has become the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in West Africa. All this, because our macroeconomy has been considerably strengthened.
However, recent events have threatened to derail the progress we have made as a nation. That is why I believe the theme for this year’s celebration, “COVID-19 in Ghana: Impact on Employment and Working Conditions”, is apt, as it puts into sharp focus the exigencies of our time, and the work each and every one has to do to get our nation fully back to work.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in our country has meant that Government has rapidly had to implement a number of measures to help stem the tide of the spread. As I indicated in my 8th address to the nation, my single-minded goal is how to protect our population from the virus, see to the rebuilding of our economy, and steer the country out of this crisis.
Some of the measures implemented, like those of 15th of March, have decreed the suspension of all public gatherings and the closure of our schools and borders. These measures are still very much in force, which means that, this year, we are not gathered at Independence Square. We have also reviewed some of the measures, and lifted the restrictions to movement of persons resident in Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Takoradi.
Two weeks ago, when I invited the leadership of the Trades Union Congress to Jubilee House, we discussed at length what impact the virus and the measures to contain it have had on businesses and the welfare of workers. In the words of the admirable TUC Secretary-General, Dr. Yaw Baah, and I quote, “what we are seeing is mind-boggling. Businesses are collapsing, in almost all the sectors of the economy, many people have already lost their jobs, and many more would have lost their jobs without the easing of these restrictions.”
In spite of this stark assessment, I was encouraged by his statement that the fight against COVID-19 is a shared responsibility, and I want to stress, once again, that, together, we will defeat this virus.
Like virtually all other countries, Ghana has not been spared the adverse effects of the pandemic. With the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimating that 2.7 billion workers in the world have been affected by the imposition of partial and full lockdowns, preliminary data available to us, in Ghana, indicates that the impact of the virus on our economy has been dire. Indeed, no sector of our economy has been spared by the pandemic.
The Bank of Ghana tells us that the virus will have a negative impact on exports, imports, taxes, f