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Live Updates: President John Mahama presents policy statement

Governance

The Prez Mahama 2012 Policy Statement

Photo Reporting

We are on the verge of a great leap forward and are attracting the attention of international investments. Comporting ourselves peacefully in the months leading up to the elections and maintaining this peace after the election is key to maintaining our forward momentum.

Our government needs to change. At times we set our aims too low, and at times our bureaucracies seem non-functional.

Our pioneering role in the establishment of the AU is recognized, and the organization’s fiftieth anniversary is coming up. We must do our share for the celebrations commemorating this anniversary.

With the help of our development partners, we have come a long way. We will try to reduce our aid dependence over the next 10 years. We must assist our neighbors to overcome any conflicts and reap the full benefits of membership in the West African Union. We should ofer refuge to those citizens of neighboring countries in need, but we should not allow any activities counter to our development interests to be undertaken by these refugees.

These elections should project us as a beacon of peace, and I will be calling on chiefs and politicians to help insure this.

As campaigns resume, let us not forget that we are one people and one nation with a common destiny. Our political differences should not diminish our passion for unity. The language in comments in online social media networks is unghanaian, and we must not lost sight of the fact that we are a single nation. The opportunities of this country should be open to every citizen regardless of their particular ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

We must provide a safe environment for socioeconomic activities to thrive. Peace and security involve not only national security, but every single ministry. All ministers are instructed to do their utmost to insure peace during elections, including addressing chieftaincy and ethnic conflicts. We must address security concerns through peace dialogue and mediation. Let us all remember that peace and security is our collective responsibility. The police must also meet their responsibilities of enforcing road safety laws.

Civil society must demand accountability from the government and government must respond. Corruption detracts from the collective good. We must be serious about combatting it at every level. I and other members of government intend to lead by example.

We must address the illness and not the symptoms when it comes to corruption and misspending. We must insolate government against such losses like judgment debts. The Minister of Finance has been instructed to stem the tide of mounting judgment debts against the government.

The Minister for Justice/ Attorney General are charged with legally retrieving money that should not have been paid out. There should also be a channel established that will allow people and institutions legitimately deserving government money to make their claims.

I am committed to running a corruption-free, transparent government. We must use the money under our control to better the lot of the ordinary Ghanaian. From the payments to undeserving individuals and institutions to unnecessary spending, we are dedicated to reform. Legitimate debts of the state must be made, but some payments that should not happen go through as well. The cabinet must now clear payments over a certain amount to stifle corruption.

As president, I lead the government and the nation. In the long term, inclusive governance must address the moderation and reform of the winner takes all system of Ghanaian government. The president must also meet the leadership of the opposition at least twice a year to address matters of national concern. I hope to hold one such meeting next month.

Almost every ministry runs some kind of social safety net program. We aim to consolidate these. By enhancing coordination, we hope to more substantially improve people’s lives.

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Water supply production and distribution remains a challenge, and citizens are already paying a lot for potable water. Poor rural residents do not have proper access to these water sources. NGOs are helping us to address these problems. Within the next three weeks, we will work hard to find a solution to this challenge.

Sanitation poses problems to rural and urban water supplies. Government policy has encouraged the decentralization of sanitation delivery, but the plan was poorly implemented. By the end of next week, a national sanitation task force will roll out a public/ private sanitation program.

We must work towards free secondary and tertiary education with an eye to what is practical at this historical moment. We are reviewing all outstanding debts to educational institutions and we will begin making these payments by the close of next week.

The key concerns regarding health care for our poorest citizens are access and quality. There are too many avoidable deaths here, and we must work to establish a long-term plan to address health care needs. We must address the impediments that face our health care experts in delivering care to Ghanaians.

Ghana cannot eradicate poverty with an illiteracy rate of more than 33% of the population. We aim to educate every child in the country in the coming years so that these children can play roles in our nation’s development. We suffer from a lack of quality teachers, funding shortages, and more problems. Free education is a right, and millions of Ghanaian families benefited from this during the first republic and today. We must help those in need advance beyond the primary level.

Social development:

We aim to expand health care and school feeding. We must invest in people, infrastructure, and transparency to stay close to the better Ghana agenda.

The implementation of many crucial programs are stalled. I am trying to reprioritize the execution of critical projects. A large share of our population, especially in the North, is poor and has seen little poverty reduction. These people benefit less from our development, and we must work to integrate them into our nation’s progress.

There should be increasing local participation in the activities of investors.

We must institute a culture of adherence to legislation to insure that the oil we produce can offer the nation security into the future. Throughout all sectors of our economy, we will give preferences to Ghanaians in job opportunities.

Investors deserve a return for their risk, but through corporate income taxes or capital gains taxes, must also pay the nation back because it is national resources that will bring them wealth. We are focusing on strengthening national institutions so that we are not so dependent on the expertise and financial capacities of foreign corporations while our national institutions remain in the background.

Procurement practices of companies must reflect our local content preference. Ghanaian industrialists and entrepreneurs must position themselves to provide the goods and services required by the oil sector.

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We must hold companies to comply with provisions in their agreements that they will employ Ghanaians to the degree possible. They will no longer bring in workers to take work from capable Ghanaians. Companies must go out of their way to look for Ghanaian workers.

In addition to the Jubilee field, we have made 11 more gas discoveries, the most recent just weeks ago. The development of at least one of these fields will begin before the end of the year. The prospects for more oil production are good, and these revenues will help us plan our future. The prospects in this sector are not just related to exporting. We can use the fuel to transform our economy by reducing the cost of power generation for industry. We must monetize the Jubilee gas within a year. This will help us avert shortages, as we could reliably supply the plants in Aboadze and Tema.

The transformation of our telecom infrastructure has improved lives, but we can do more. We must complete the Eastern Corridor Rural Backbone Fiber to further centralize the communications networks. We face challenge with electricity distribution, and our growing needs have moved faster than our ability to modernize the infrastructure. A recent shortage in gas from Nigeria has resulted in load shedding, and we are working to insure that we continue to serve water and health industries. In the next several weeks, the West Africa Gas Pipeline will start to serve us again. By the end of October we will get another 300 megawatts of production online to address our load-shedding problem.

We must identify priority projects and see that they are carried though. We will impose more strictly enforced timelines for road projects and other infrastructure works whose lack of completion inhibits citizens in business and daily life.

GDP growth is promising, even not accounting for oil. We will rigorously seek value for money in all our spending, but not much can be done to transform the infrastructural base on the country over the next four months.

We will work to prevent counterfeit and unsafe goods from entering Ghana. We will also work to favor Ghanaian manufacturing.

To bring structure to our largely informal sector, we must create more legitimate jobs. Over the last few years, programs like the National Youth Employment Program have helped use create some of these jobs. As we look for more oil and mining jobs for Ghanaians, agriculture and industry remain major employers. We will also work to organize government jobs.

Industry and private sector development: this is the area of my utmost passion. We are transitioning from lower middle income to middle income status as a nation. The next step in the process must be led by the private sector.

I’m inviting our private sector partners next week as I establish the Private Sector Advisory Council. I will chair this council and insure that the public sector will stop stifling the private. We will hear complaints about instances of bureaucracy threatening trade and investigate and act on these claims when appropriate.

Are we getting value for the money the government spends? Ordinary citizens are now paying 6 billion cedis for remunerations for public servants but they remain underserved by public service. The service attitude of the police has improved, but drivers can still pay bribes and other public offices offer very poor service. Let me say to the public services that the public does not believe it is receiving value for the money they pay us. We as public servants exist to serve the public, not to hold our power over them. I’m inviting organized civil society to discuss how our public services are responding to our citizens’ aspirations.

The youth in agriculture program was designed to attract the young to this industry and to create jobs for them. So far, many youth have benefitted from this program, and there has been a strong emergence of public-private agricultural partnerships. This is happening in the pineapple and mango industries among others. We are also looking into the possibility of making more land available to aspiring agricultural workers.

We recognize that expenditure controls can escalate the costs of projects and leave contractors in the lurch. It also hurts financial institutions who lend to these contractors. Contractors will be paid their due sums without delay.

Single spine salary structure: We recognize the sacrifices that public servants make. We know the dedication of our civil servants as well. This government adopted the previous administration’s salary structure in spite of budget woes. Most of our public servants are now enjoying the program’s benefits, and we hope to extend it to the rest by the end of the year. We ask for patience as we continue the implementation.

Let me turn to some of our most visible challenges so that the next four months can witness decisive delivery on these issues. We want to break the cycle of government overspending, and we have warned agencies against unauthorized expenditure. Steps like the introduction of biometric processes to track fraud in public payrolls have already begun to yield results.

We must support Revenue Authority reforms that increase tax fairness and widen the tax base. We must complete the study of utility and fuel pricing to examine, among other things, subsidies for vulnerable groups.

Our priorities are continuing to hold down inflation and halt depreciation as well as maintaining discipline in government expenditures.

I’ll start with what’s on everyone’s mind, macroeconomic stability. We’ve increased productivity in agriculture, made infrastructure improvements, kept inflation to a single digit level, but we still rely too heavily on food imports.

Globally, currency volatility led to the near collapse of the Eurozone. Thankfully, with timely measures, we have arrested the decline in the value of the cedi which is slowly stabilizing.

My message to you today is simple: Ghana, our motherland, is getting more united and stronger and we’ve come too far to turn back now. Today is 40 days since the passing of Mills, and in our tradition 40 days is the time to take stock and announce decisions concerning the future. To immortalize him, we must recommit ourselves to his vision for a better Ghana. My task is to insure completion of the former president’s agenda. We must work on the economy, development, and transparency.

President John Dramani Mahama is presenting what he calls a policy statement for the remainder of his tenure of office.

Source Myjoyonline.com





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