The Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, yesterday assured the business community that the macro-economic stability being witnessed in the country was a reality which had come to stay and not a fluke.

He, therefore, urged banks that were pursuing a wait-and-see attitude to wake up to the reality and take a cue from the positive economic performance to reduce their interest rates.

Mr Mahama gave the assurance when he inaugurated 490 Yutong buses on the theme, “An efficient transport system for a better Ghana”, in Accra yesterday.

In 2010, the need to ensure an efficient transport system and augment the stock of buses that were imported arose.

Consequently, the 490 buses were imported in bits to operate as intercity buses to ferry workers and other travellers in the country.

J.A. Plant Pool Ghana Limited has been a major stakeholder in importing fresh buses to beef up the stock of commercial long-distance vehicles in the country.

The Vice-President said the unrestrained over expenditure of the 2006 to 2008 era had largely been contained, with the “runaway inflation, rising interest rates and sharply eroding currency that characterised the economy when we took power brought under control”.

He said the cedi had enjoyed the most stable 12-month period since foreign exchange deregulation was introduced in the country, stressing that that created a predictable environment for business planning.

Mr Mahama said inflation had dropped to a single digit and expressed strong optimism that it would reach the eight per cent mark by the end of December.

“Let me thank the banking sector for taking a cue from the positive economic performance to reduce interest rates. It is not possible to accelerate the growth of the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector in an environment of high credit costs,” he said.

The Vice-President said agricultural growth had been robust, attaining 6.1 per cent last year, and expected to exceed seven per cent growth this year.

He said that had stabilised food prices, particularly in the crop sub-sector, and gave positive indications for achieving food security for Ghana in the near future.

He said an important stabilising factor for the economy had been the increase in the country’s foreign reserves from $1.8 billion to $3.5 billion.

Mr Mahama said preliminary data from the Bank of Ghana indicated a half-year GDP growth rate of 7.2 per cent and an increase in government spending of almost 30 per cent above 2009 and noted that the government anticipated GDP growth above eight per cent and 10 per cent for 2011 and 2012, respectively.

He said the transport sub-sector was a crucial part of the SME sector and one that the government considered very strategic to the growth of the economy.

“This is why the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government promised in its manifesto to work with the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) and others, including the financial institutions, to build an adequate and affordable road transport sector,” he said.

The Vice-President announced that the government had received an offer for the supply of buses following his recent visit to Brazil early this year, saying that the offer would provide additional modern and comfortable buses for Intercity STC and other transport organisations.

He further said Yutong was working to establish its West African spare parts centre and assembling workshop in the country and gave the assurance that the government would provide the necessary support to enable the company to achieve its objective.

In a message, the Managing Director of Stanbic Bank, Mr Alhassan Andani, said the bank was proud to be part of the success story of bringing the buses into the country.

He said as a subsidiary of the largest bank in Africa, Stanbic Bank Ghana had made it a priority to engage in business that would ultimately better the lives of Ghanaians.

The Deputy Minister of Transport, Mrs Dzifa Aku Ativor, commended the Yutong Company for the initiative, saying it would enhance the road transport sector.

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