President Akufo-Addo on Tuesday painted a gloomy picture of the state of the Ghanaian economy, pledging that he will not allow it to further plummet.

“I will not allow this country to collapse under my watch. We will reduce significantly the fiscal deficit this year,” he said.

The pledge came after he disclosed that “the reality of the state of Ghana’s public finances today are quite stark” during his first State of the Nation Address on Tuesday February 21, 2017.

Article 67 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution requires that: “The President shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament and before the dissolution of Parliament, deliver to Parliament a message on the state of the nation.”

He said the country’s banking sector has not escaped the economic decline and has become “increasingly fragile.”

The country debt stock, he said, stands at 74% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), noting that 92% of it [debt stock] was incurred in the last eight years under the National Democratic Congress government of John Attah Mills and John Mahama.

“As at the beginning of 2009, Ghana’s total debt stock was GHc9.5 billion. By the end of 2016, the debt stock had ballooned to GHc122 billion,” he said, adding “It is very clear, therefore, that the Mahama government did not achieve the objectives set out in the programme.”

The country, he said, cannot continue with its way of public finances saying “We are confident that, through our interventions, significant job opportunities will be opened to Ghanaians across the country.”

He said the conditions in the country demand that government machinery functions efficiently and at full force, and that nothing will be left on autopilot.

He said the times, in which “we live, demand that we, all, be in a hurry to deal with the problems we face.”

He added that the most critical challenge inherited by his government is the very high, unprecedented level of unemployment particularly among the youth.