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President Mahama's Presentation at the IEA Encounter

2012 elections

John Mahama IEA Debate
President Mahama's Presentation at the IEA Encounter

Chairperson, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and friends from the media, fellow Ghanaians, Good Evening. It is a pleasure and an honour for me to be here with you this evening. I would like, first, to thank the Institute of Economic Affairs for organizing these encounters.

May I acknowledge the respect that the IEA exhibited after the passing of Professor John Evans Atta Millis, our late President by suspending your original schedule. This is a time of great possibility in our country.

In fact, the possibilities that lie before us for true and sustained progress are limitless. As the clock draws nearer to our national election, it is crucial for us to depart from the destructive, time-wasting exercise of unfounded personal attacks, petty name-calling, and character assassinations and rather, move our energies toward the debate of real issues, concrete ways in which we can transform these numerous possibilities that exist into viable programmes that can, and will, create A Better Ghana.

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By establishing these encounters, the IEA is doing just that. It is creating a forum within which we candidates can seriously discuss the issues facing our nation and present the solutions that fall not only within our vision but also within our capability. I welcome this opportunity.

While part of the function of a government is absolutely to institute policy and to put forth programmes, what I have discovered is sorely missing in many talks and speeches during this election cycle is the basic link between the citizens of this country and the policies that are being promoted.

What is missing is the clear correlation between the good people of Ghana and the benefits of the programmes that are being promised. For more than 2 decades, I have been serving this great nation of ours in various public roles. As I have travelled throughout this great nation of ours, through all the regions, from the larger urban areas like Accra and Kumasi, to the smaller villages like Tutukpene, and Bodi, I have met a number of wonderful individuals.

These are ordinary citizens, people whose only desire is to work and earn a living; to feed their families; to give their children hope that one day they will be able to surpass the limitations that were faced by their parents and grandparents. These individuals have told me stories of resilience, optimism and commitment to their families and communities.

What a resilient people we are! What a mighty people we are! These people are pushing ahead for a better Ghana. Interacting with these citizens has reinforced my optimism. It has reinforced a belief that was already strong, my belief that the future that lies before us, all of us—not just some of us—is bright.

Let us examine the reality, I will like to capture them under four themes, for the purpose of my conversation with you this evening:

Building a strong and resilient economy

Capable of creating and sustaining jobs,

Putting People First in our health, education and social protection agenda

Transparent and accountable governance.

We are Consolidating a Strong and Resilient Economy

Under the NDC government, Ghana’s economic output, which is also known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is currently about GHc 70 billion, from a low value of GHc 30 billion and GHc 36 billion recorded in 2008 and 2009 respectively. These are among the latest or end-September 2012 projected figures released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS).

This is a sign of an economy that is growing by leaps and bounds. The fact remains that Ghana is rated among one of the fastest growing economies in the World! We have recorded the most sustained single digit inflation level in Ghana’s history.

We have achieved one million metric tons of cocoa production in a year, and have paid the highest percentage of FOB price in Ghana’s history. We have improved cotton production over tenfold and, through the SADA vehicle, have established a Shea butter processing factory at Buipe, an oil mill in Tamale and a rice processing plant at Nyankpala.

The Single Spine Pay policy has seen an escalation of Public sector wage bill from GHC2billion to over GHC5billion. In less than 4 years into our Better Ghana Agenda, the level of infrastructure development, access to social services and quality of life for ordinary people is unprecedented in Ghana’s history.

Our country is now accredited to be among the very first in Africa south of the Sahara to be in transition to true middle-income status! Ladies and gentlemen, let me say emphatically here that this nation is making remarkable progress. She is not retrogressing.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, we are in a dynamic period of our nation’s history and there is much hope for a bright future ahead. We are told by political philosophers, and even theologians, that to think positive of your circumstances is to invoke the more remarkable good tidings and future prospects: Our country is great, and will be even greater.

Our macro-economic goals in the next four years are an average GDP growth rate of at least 8% per annum, a sustained single digit rate of inflation, low interest rates, an overall budget deficit of approximately 5% of GDP and gross international reserves that will cover not less than four months of imports.

Overall, our economic policies and programmes will aim at the attainment of a per capita income of at least US$2,300 by year 2017. With the consolidation of the economic fundamentals of our country, we are at the threshold of transitioning from a lower-middle income country to a middle-income country.

This phase has been largely led by Government. The next phase of transformation must be led by the private sector with Government’s active participation. The private sector is the area of my utmost passion.

Together we shall create more employment opportunities for our youth. It is my firm belief that the Ghanaian private sector has what it takes to lead the next phase of our development. And that process must not be obstructed by politics.

We will establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure local content and give priority to Ghanaians in job opportunities and procurement practices. The Government's own procurement processes will be made to set an example of local content preferences.

We will engage with investors to set and monitor targets for achieving the increasing levels of Ghanaian participation. The Private Sector Advisory Council, which I inaugurated in September, will serve as the apex body to coordinate all strategic decisions affecting private sector development.

As I earlier indicated, government will actively participate in the Private Sector led economic growth and employment creation interventions.

A critical part of expanding our economy is the expansion of infrastructure development.

A sound infrastructure base is crucial to the attainment of our goal to build a thriving private sector and a resilient economy for more jobs.Key amongst these is ready access to regular supply of power. This is why we promise to launch an ‘Energy to Every Home’ programme under which universal access to electricity and energy will be targeted by 2016.

In between now and 2016, we have two critical milestones:

As has been announced by the Volta River Authority, in December, we will end the current load management exercise that was put in place as a result of interruption in gas supply from the West Africa Gas Pipeline Project by end of next month.

By the end of 2013, Ghana’s deficit in Energy supply will be significantly minimised, thereby largely eliminate the need for load management.

These will be achieved by increasing power generation from 2,443 megawatts to 5,000 megawatts by 2016 through an active partnership with the private sector and improvement in transmission equipment. By 2020, to meet the demand of the iron industry and other large consumers by increasing to 15,000 megawatts.

In addition, our focus on people-centered infrastructure will involve:

Increase social housing and improve sanitation and social facilities that promote secured settlements for the people’s improved welfare;

Continue the Western and Eastern Corridor Roads and modernise the Central Spine;

Construct a new deep sea port in the Western Region;

Target the development of the country’s potential mini-hydro power projects with capacities below 100 megawatts, especially in the northern savannah zone, in partnership with SADA;

Develop and up-grade the port at Buipe to serve as an inland port for the five SADA regions and the Sahel regions;

Commence the process for a new international airport for the nation`s capital;

Upgrade the Tamale Airport into Ghana’s second international airport;

Expand and modernise the Kotoka International Airport and the Takoradi, Kumasi and Sunyani domestic airports to handle increasing commercial activities and passenger loads.

Accelerate the street naming and house numbering scheme.

We are convinced of the transformatory role of agriculture in our economy. We will implement the Medium-Term Agricultural Sector Investment Programme, which seeks to significantly modernize agriculture and also improve productivity to world standards.

Ladies and gentlemen, the long-cherished vision of our citizens for Ghana’s very own national carrier will be realized under our next term. We will, in partnership for the private sector, bring back a proud and prosperous airline for Ghana.

I am convinced and determined, that together, we can reach new heights of growth and development.

Fellow Ghanaians, all these initiatives on the economy and infrastructure are foundations for the creation of Sustainable Jobs

The issue of jobs has become a global challenge, and everywhere in the world. It is a significant challenge facing all nations, from the United States to France to South Africa.

The attention of governments has been squarely focussed on how to expand their job markets to put people who have been laid off back to work, and on how to absorb new entrants into the job market. Ghana is no exception.

While the National Youth Employment Programme and other schemes have provided some transitory relief, we need a sustained expansion of the economy in order to create permanent employment.

Under the CDB facility we have reserved $100 million as a business incubator fund for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs will be the main driver in terms of our acceleration of growth of the economy and more importantly, they will be an avenue for job creation.

Recently in my address at the United Nations General Assembly, I announced that we have developed a blueprint for a Young Entrepreneurs Program. This program will guide and assist young graduates and other youth to set up business enterprises of their own in any sector of their choice.

They will be assisted to develop feasibility studies and business plans, provided start up finance and capital, mentorship and technical support, and eventually graduated from the program. This program will help them become employers, providing jobs for others, rather than employees seeking jobs from others.

A linkage would be established with other funds such as the Venture Capital Fund and the Export Development and Agriculture Investment Fund (EDAIF) to achieve this same purpose of creating young entrepreneurs.

Expansion of local content to cover all sectors will guarantee protection of jobs for Ghanaians. Investors who employ expatriates will be required to find or train appropriately skilled Ghanaians to fill the positions within a given time frame or pay an incremental penalty the longer they continue to use expatriate workers.

The NDC government will review the procurement law to give added advantage to indigenous companies and suppliers of made-in-Ghana goods. Government will use its position as the biggest spender in the economy to promote the indigenous private sector.

Working with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) the Ghana Employers Association (GEA) and other private sector business associations, we will use Government’s significant financial muscle to create industries and manufacturing concerns in areas in which Ghana has a comparative advantage.

This will take the form of guarantees to support the private sector or public-private partnerships in which government will reduce its participation over time and hand over completely to the private sector.

This has already been piloted under the SADA initiative resulting in the setting up of 3 industries in collaboration with PBC and Avanash Industries.

Upstream, midstream and downstream of the oil and gas industry, jobs are being produced for which we must be ready.

In this regard the Takoradi Polytechnic and the Takoradi Technical Institute are being assisted to increase their capacity to train skilled human resources specifically for this sector. This will, within a short period of time, introduce thousands of sustainable jobs.

With the current commercial exploitation of crude oil and gas and the other natural resources of which we have in abundance, the foundation now exists for an integrated Aluminium industry based on bauxite, a petro-chemical industry based on salt and natural gas, a fertilizer industry to give impetus to agro-development, a salt-based chemical industry for caustic soda, allied consumer products and exports based on oil and gas, and the much-anticipated integrated iron and steel industry based on the iron ore deposits at Oppon Mansi in the Western Region.

Relatively cheap gas-fired energy from the Ghana Gas Company will also facilitate the full revival of the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO), the textile industries and ventures in their value chain, the ceramics, brick and tile manufacturing, the glass factories and the steel mill.

To prevent what is referred to as the ‘Dutch Disease’ which is a feature of hydrocarbon rich countries, modernised agriculture and agro-processing will be given special preference as a strategy to ensure food security leading to net exports.

Agricultural production has increased significantly with many fruitful interventions including expansion of irrigation.

Other sectors that will be expected to increase employment as a direct result of our initiatives in the next four years include:

v The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies resulting from the creation of 46 new districts in addition to the 60 created by the NPP administration;

v The Rural Enterprises Programme,

v The Northern Rural Growth Programme,

v The SADA Investment Schemes,

v The Western Corridor Development Authority,

v The Security Services,

v The Graduate Business Support Scheme,

v The Ghana Education Service, and ICT and Business Process Outsourcing.

An expanded infrastructure facilitates the contribution of all Ghanaians to national development. This also creates the opportunities for increasing numbers of Ghanaians to participate meaningfully in the economic growth of the country.

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Just imagine what we can achieve if we stand together as one people, with one nation and one common destiny.

The questions I have been hearing most are: “How do these impact on me and my family?” This is the area in which NDC’s track record in Putting People First counts.

So this evening, I would like to answer some of those questions.

I would like to speak to the various people I have met during my recent travels through the nation, and to all the people in our country, the citizens whose lives will be impacted by the policies and programmes that are being presented.

I come from a family that understood first-hand the power of education to change a person’s life. My father’s very first profession, before he entered politics, and before he became a farmer, was a teacher. He laid the groundwork for a number of individuals not just his children, to be able to attend school.

I know and respect the importance of education, the value that it brings not only to the students, but also to their families, communities and to the entire country. So, too, did the architects who set down the foundation of this Fourth republic.

The drafters of our constitution of 1992, in all their wisdom, provided for the implementation of Free Universal Basic Education. It was with foresight that they gave a definite time period for the implementation of this provision.

They specified that within 10 years after coming into force of the constitution. Allowances were also made in the case of secondary and tertiary education. The1992 constitution specifies as follows:

Article 25 (1)(b) of the Constitution states that “Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education.”

Subsection (c) of that same article continues on to stat that, “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;”

No President who has sworn the oath to defend the constitution—as I have done and as previous presidents have done—can stand unilaterally against the implementation of the provisions of that constitution.

We have committed to MDG II, which aims at attaining universal primary education by 2015. As I speak with you now, tonight, 18.3% of children who should be in Primary school are not in school. 53.9% of children who should be in JHS are not in school. The existing 8557 JHSs cannot absorb the P6 pupils from 14,360 primary schools.

As I have indicated, our constitution guarantees FCUBE. We currently pay GHC4.50 per child per year.

Basic education is still not free, not compulsory, or universal. Parents are still compelled to bear some costs at the basic level. As a social democratic party, we believe that education is a right and that there must be equity in access and quality for all.

By 2016, we shall ensure that basic education is completely free for all, as the Constitution mandates.

Our commitment is to eliminate ALL identified “Schools-Under-Trees” and replace them with classroom blocks with ancillary facilities, continue the schools construction programme to eliminate the “Shift System” from the public school system.

We shall review the Capitation Grant periodically to keep pace with cost levels, progressively expand coverage of the School Feeding Programme to all public basic schools in rural and needy communities, continue the distribution of free exercise books and school uniforms and ensure improvements in Special Needs Education.

We will also agree with the GNAT, PTAs and all stakeholders on the best way of enforcing the compulsory aspect of the FCUBE programme.

To cater for the increased demand for teachers when FCUBE is fully implemented, we will increase admissions to existing Teacher Training Colleges and also establish at least 10 new Colleges of Education in the medium term to be located in areas not well served currently to deal with the shortfall in the number of teachers at the basic level.

A one year specialised skills training programme for teachers interested in early childhood development will also be pursued. We can reduce the burden on parents for students at the secondary level in a manner that does not compromise quality and does not squeeze resources that could be invested at the basic level to comply with the provisions of our constitution at the basic level.

When the NDC came into power there were as many as 4300 schools under trees. We’ve reduced that number by 1700; that’s 40%. This adds up to over 400,000 children who now attend schools in properly constructed classrooms.

We have also distributed 43 million exercise books, 3 million school uniforms to children in deprived communities. In respect to the school-feeding program, when we came into power in 2008, resources available could only provide for the feeding of 400,000. Resources have been increased so that today the school feeding programme can accommodate 1,000,000 children.

Whereas in 2008 the capitation grant provided 3GHC for each school going child; that grant has been increased to 4.50 GHC. By building new classroom blocks, we have further been able to offer the necessary infrastructure to a number of schools so that they can now eliminate the shift system and offer continuous daily instruction to the students.

Also significant is the motivation of teachers. Through the single spine salary programme teachers have seen their wages increase significantly, thereby boosting morale and lessening the weight of their own personal burdens and enabling them to better focus on their students. All throughout Ghana we see so many uncompleted projects, good ideas that somehow got left behind in the race for the promise of something bigger and better.

But these are not just projects; they are people. This programme should not be left uncompleted, and when it comes to basic education, no child should be left behind!

At the secondary and tertiary levels, our programme is:

To improve access by building 200 new community secondary schools in districts without them

To build 10 new colleges of education in areas with a high student-to-teacher ratio to produce more teachers for basic and secondary level

Expand facilities in established secondary schools to enable them take on more students

To revamp, retool and expand all technical, vocational and polytechnic schools

To build accommodation in schools to take in 20,000 teachers and their families (prototype almost near completion at HO Poly

To standardize fees at the secondary level

To increase subsidies and bursaries especially for deprived families

To work with GETFUND, NCTE and Accreditation Board to build the capacity of polytechnics in terms of faculty and infrastructure for them to become fully fledged technical university

To establish a new public university in the Eastern Region

A Government under my administration would consolidate education at the basic levels and continue to improve on the standards at all other levels that have enjoyed significant measures of improvement since 2009.

We will do everything step by step to ensure that everybody enjoys quality education in the coming years. As you can see, all these re-establish the focus to build capacities for accelerated development.

Teachers like many other workers on government pay roll have benefitted from the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy.

We are proud of this achievement.In the next four years, we shall implement a diversified mix of incentives including housing, training and professional development; ensure early processing of salaries of newly posted teachers as well as placement of newly promoted teachers on their corresponding salary levels.


The NDC 2012 manifesto acknowledges the fact that Ghana has a double burden of Disease – Communicable and Non – Communicable. Over the last 4 years we have pursued very successful initiatives to deal with the burden of these diseases, namely:

v Establishing 10 Polyclinics,

v 12 District Hospitals,

v 19 Health Centers and

v 1,300 Community Health Improvement Planning and Service (CHPS) compounds.

We have begun the rehabilitation of the Tamale Teaching Hospital and Refurbishment of the Regional Hospitals at Cape Coast, Ho and Sunyani. In addition, the installation of 6 MRI machines in hospitals vis-a-vis the provision of 161 Ambulances to facilitate rapid response to medical emergencies among others were highlighted as testimony to the foundations we are building to secure a better health for our people.

Over the past four years, these improvements in infrastructure and medical equipment coupled with human resource development, relevant legislations and increased governmental financial commitments have ensured a healthy nation as captured by the 2009 and 2012 Annual Report of the Ghana Health Service is also encouraging:



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