1. A month ago, almost to the day, I was in Yendi, fittingly attired as a self-proclaimed Prince of Dagbon, Prince Abudani, the first of that lineage, to witness the installation of Yaa-Na Mahama Abukari II as the overlord of Dagbon.
2. Thousands of our compatriots were there to share in the joy of the occasion. It was a ceremony that many had despaired we would ever see, but a new Yaa-Na, accepted by the two gates of Abudu and Andani, was installed on that day.
3. The installation of a new Yaa-Na brought to an end decade of feuding that laid low the proud and ancient kingdom of Dagbon. It was a happy day, and it marked the climax of a long, tortuous journey, and a hard grind on the part of many people through the years.
4. Two years ago, when I had the honour to become President of our country, I decided to summon all the resources of the state and my own energies, and make a concerted effort through the dedicated, patriotic Committee of Eminent Chiefs that had been working on the problem for the past 17 years, to find an acceptable solution. With the blessings of the Almighty, we have had a breakthrough, and this led to the month-long series of events that climaxed in the installation on 25th January, 2019.
5. I was not looking to be accorded any special title or accolade, and I was certainly not looking for praise. I did want to do whatever I could to make sure that this long running sore, that was such a blight on Dagbon and Ghana, and which dragged down the development process in our country, could be resolved, and we could move on.
6. We had spent enough emotional stress, enough time, enough energy and enough money on the Dagbon dispute; I wanted that amount of emotion, that time, that energy and that money to be spent on making Dagbon and Ghana prosperous.
7. The Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs intends to use the momentum of the Dagbon settlement to tackle the other protracted chieftaincy disputes in the country, hopefully, for resolution.
1. In order to reinforce and support the process of reconciliation and the restoration of peace in Dagbon, I have decided that, this year, the 62nd Independence Day celebration will be held in Tamale, on 6th March. This will be the first time in our nation’s history that the celebration is being held outside of our national capital of Accra. I am, very much, looking forward to it.
Creation of new regions
1. The creation of the six new regions opens up the country and ensures that no one feels cut off from the centre. No corner of this country is being left behind. It is for this reason that we have created the three development authorities. It is for this reason that we have re-aligned the national budget to ensure that every constituency gets the cedi equivalent of $1 million a year for priority projects.
2. Every member of this House should be able to testify that work is going on in each of the 275 constituencies around the country. The water and toilet provision segment of the Special Development Initiatives is taking place in every constituency.
3. Now that the regions are in place, we have the singular opportunity to avoid the old mistakes of urban planning that have made some of our towns and cities such unattractive places.
4. Indeed, when designating the capitals of the new regions, at the ceremonies at Jubilee House last week, I made it clear that Government is committed to the equitable distribution of government structures and institutions across the regions. We will keep to the commitment.
1. In addition to the creation of thirty-eight (38) Municipal and District Assemblies, and the elevation of twenty-nine (29) Districts to the status of Municipalities, the Bill for the amendment of article 55(3) of the Constitution has been gazetted, to pave way for the direct, popular election, on partisan basis, of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
2. I am calling, respectfully, for a repetition of the bi-partisan support, that made possible the hugely successful outcomes in the referenda for the new regions, to ensure the success of the impending referendum.
3. A multidisciplinary panel of experts is being assembled to plan, cost, schedule and help implement a roadmap for the election of MMDCEs. We are committed to devolving more and more power to the Ghanaian people.
1. I believe we are all now agreed that the fundamentals have to be sound if the economy is to flourish. We have just concluded a programme with the IMF, and, with continuing discipline, we shall sign off from the deal in April. This is the seventeenth time Ghana has had to go to the IMF in the sixty-two years of her independence.
2. Production in the economy, as measured by real GDP growth, has picked up very strongly in the last two years. From 3.4% in 2016, real GDP growth increased to 8.1% in 2017.
3. In 2018, provisional data for the first three quarters indicate a strong real GDP growth of 6.0%, higher than the annual target of 5.6%. Real GDP growth for 2019 is forecast at 7.6%. Ghana’s recent GDP growth has placed it amongst the highest in the world.
4. The fiscal deficit is being brought down from the 7.3% of rebased GDP in 2016 to a provisional 3.9% of GDP at the end of 2018. The debt-to-GDP ratio has declined from the 56.6% of GDP in 2016 to 54.8% at the end of 2018.
5.Inflation has dropped from 15.4%, at the end of 2016, to 9% in January this year, the lowest in six years, as announced by the Ghana Statistical Service last week.
6. Interest rates are declining, and so is the Bank of Ghana Monetary policy rate. Our trade balance account, for the first time in more than a decade, recorded a surplus in 2017, and is expected to remain in surplus.
7. In May 2018, a US$2 billion Eurobond was issued for 30 and 10 years of US$1 billion each with coupon rates of 8.627% and 7.625% respectively, and these were the lowest rate and the longest maturity in our history, signifying confidence in the economy.
8. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that, today, Ghana is the leading recipient of Foreign Direct Investment in West Africa.
9. We will maintain the discipline, and bring progress to our country. We have decided to institute a legal framework to help with the discipline. We have passed the Fiscal Responsibility Law, Act 982, capping the deficit at 5% by law.
10. We know election years will come around, and there will be pressure on government to splurge, and persuasive arguments will be made that you have to stay in government to be able to implement your programmes. However, I am bent on running a responsible administration, mindful of the next generation, and not, merely, the next election.
11. Our efforts are bearing some fruits, and the world has taken notice of the improvement in our economic fundamentals. In September last year, after almost a decade, we received our first Sovereign Credit rating upgrade from Standard and Poor’s (S&P).
12. Revenue mobilization poses the biggest challenge in the management of our economy, with the tax exemption policy in particular proving to be an Achilles heel and a growing menace to fiscal stability and revenue generation.
13. We intend to do something about tax exemptions, by introducing suitable measures that may disrupt the easy and comfortable arrangements that many have become accustomed to, but which we have to take to ensure that we have the firmest of foundations for the economic take-off that has escaped us for so long.
1.Workers in the public sector begun the year on a good note, after receiving a 10% increase in their salaries, on top of the 11% increment of 2018.
2. Forty-one thousand (41,000) workers in the informal sector were also enrolled onto Tier-3 pensions schemes, with pensioners seeing an average increment of 11% in their monthly pension incomes, with the lowest income bracket receiving a 14.7% increment.
3. Last year, the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) engaged some one hundred and seven thousand (107,000) youth in various employment modules, with an additional one hundred and twenty-five thousand (125,000) set to be engaged this year.
1. The fight against child labour has chalked some modest success. Through the implementation of the second phase of the National Plan of Action (2017-2021), Ghana has been moved up from the Tier-2 Watch List position of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report to Tier-2 in 2018.
1. Government has introduced reforms at the port to improve port efficiency. Among others, we introduced the paperless operations at the ports and goods can be cleared within 1 to 3 days.
2. We have set ourselves the goal of making our ports the most competitive in West Africa. In this regard, some further reforms would soon be announced by Government to enhance the competitive position of Ghana’s ports.
1. In September 2019, a new standards-based curriculum will be rolled out from kindergarten to Class 6 in primary schools. This curriculum will focus on making Ghanaian children confident, innovative, creative-thinking, digitally-literate, well-rounded, patriotic citizens. Mathematics, Science, Reading, Writing and Creativity are, therefore, at the heart of this new curriculum.
2. It warms my heart that we are now able to say that education in the public sector is free from Kindergarten to Senior High School, and, that this year, legislation would be passed to redefine basic education to include Senior High School.
3. All is set for the construction of 10 state-of-the-art Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Centres this year. The new TVET centres would be world class, and attractive to assure young people that they are not being sent to second best options.
4. 10 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) centres are being built around the country to provide support for the introduction of STEM into basic education after the completion of a successful pilot phase.
5. The importance of science, technology and innovation has led me to appoint a Presidential Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (PACSTI) to advise the President on how to infuse the application of science and technology in the development of our nation, headed by a distinguished scientist, Prof. Edward Ayensu.
6. We shall bring before Parliament this year, a tertiary education policy Bill that will bring all the public universities under a common law, and make the administration of the public universities less cumbersome.
1. A well-motivated and remunerated teacher is at the centre of our quality education and comprehensive teacher policy. This has started with the upgrading of the initial teacher education certificate to degree status, and the move to put the teaching profession up there with other professions in terms of respect and exclusivity.
2. With the introduction of the 4-year Bachelor of Education degree, teacher trainees would now obtain their first degree at the end of their schooling. This ensures that they enter the teaching service as university graduates.
1. In May 2018, Ghana won accolades at the World Health Assembly for having eradicated Trachoma, an eye disease that has plagued us for a long time.
2. Today, our NHIS is buoyant. Government has paid up the GH¢1.2 billion arrears we inherited, and brought the operations of the NHIS back to life.
3. On 19th December, 2018, the introduction of mobile renewal of membership of the NHIS was launched. Since then, there have been, on average, seventy thousand (70,000) members renewing their membership every week, by dialling *929# on any mobile phone network.
4. Soon, in collaboration with the National Identification Authority, Ghanaians would be able to register, renew and access health care services using the Ghana Card.
5. To deliver healthcare to Ghanaians more efficiently, in 2018, Government granted financial clearance for the recruitment 11,018 health personnel to increase existing clinical staff.
6. To augment the efforts of clinical staff, in September, 2018, the Ministry of Health received further financial clearance to employ 14,254 Nurse Assistants (Clinical and Preventive).
7. The nurse assistants that have been employed belong to the tranche that passed their exams in 2016 from Government Health Training Institutions and have commenced work by 1st February, 2019. The Ministry of Health is working to obtain financial clearance for the recruitment of the 2017 and 2018 graduates.
8. The health delivery system will be significantly strengthened by the expected arrival in June of 275 ambulances, i.e. one per constituency, to make treatment of emergency cases more effective.
9. Drone technology has also been introduced into the health delivery system to deliver essential medicine, blood and blood products to remote communities.
10. We still face problems of inadequate infrastructure in our health establishments. We have problems of numerous structures at various stages of completion that cannot be finished and brought into use, because newer structures are being started, and there is no money to finish the ones started earlier. We will not ignore or sweep the problem under the carpet. We are dealing with it, and will complete them.
1. We are starting with the completion of the many abandoned projects dotted around the country. A consortium of local banks has raised 51 million dollars to fund the completion of the social housing units started by the Kufuor administration in 2006 at Koforidua, Tamale and Ho.
2. The Saglemi Housing Project, started under the last NDC government, is also high on our list of priorities this year. The five thousand (5,000) units it offers would boost our housing numbers. We are, therefore, establishing the value for money issues surrounding the project in order to reconcile the number of houses built with the schedule of payments made, and accelerate delivery.
3. The 2019 budget made provision for the construction of two hundred thousand (200,000) housing units, and a database of local and foreign developers has been created to help make this policy a reality.
4. There are many well-intentioned projects that ended up pricing out the low-income earners, who were supposed to be their beneficiaries. We are determined to learn the lessons from past projects. The Ministry of Finance is working to launch a one billion Ghana cedi housing fund that would target low-income earners.
5. Government will continue with the other housing projects for the police, armed forces and government workers across the country, through agencies like the State Housing Corporation.
6. The most exciting news on the housing landscape, though, is the drafting of plans to regenerate Nima, which holds the dubious title of being Accra’s first slum. I am a proud resident of Nima myself, and I am extremely excited that the regeneration plans will not dislodge or dispossess residents, but would rather transform Nima into a well-laid out residential area with full amenities.
1. The Odawna Storm Drains in Accra, which have caused many tragedies over the years, are now being reengineered by a team of experts who will give it a permanent fix.
2. The Dichemso Drainage System is also on our list of priorities, and a bid has been put out for experts to transform it into a more efficient system.
COASTAL PROTECTION PROJECTS
1. Our ongoing coastal protection projects are proceeding in Adjoa in the Western Region, Blekusu, New Takoradi phase II (Elmina), Dansoman, Axim and Dixcove.
2. This year, we will also begin others in Amanful Kumah, Dansoman phase II, Komenda, Anomabo, Cape Coast, Mensah Guinea, Ningo Prampram, New Takoradi Phase III, Apam, Kokrobite, Bortianor, Blekusu Phase II and Aboadze-Shama Phase II, Maritime University, Nungua, Takoradi, Anyanui and Essipong.
BAGRE DAM SPILLAGE
1. In the short-term, desilting of the White Volta will be undertaken this year, in conjunction with discussions with the Burkinabes to regulate the flow of the spillage of the Bagre Dam, and mitigate its impact.
2. The Ministry of Works and Housing will, in the coming week, receive a report on a feasibility study conducted by the Chinese company, SinoHydro, for the construction of a dam at Pwalugu, to serve as a receptacle to hold the volume of water spilled from the Bagre Dam for irrigation purposes, and also for the generation of electricity. This will be the permanent solution to the Bagre Dam problem.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
1. If there has been any Government that has been on the side of Persons with Disabilities, it is my Government. We have increased the share of the District Assemblies Common Fund to Persons with Disabilities from 2% to 3%, and we have also ensured the implementation of our pledge of employing 50% of the persons who manage the country’s toll booths from amongst Persons with Disabilities.
1. We have worked to finalise the Creative Arts Bill, leading to the setting up of the Creative Arts Fund. For the first time, in 2018, Government provided support to the Creative Arts Council, and the Creative Arts Masterclass, to build capacity of Creative Arts practitioners, has also commenced.
2. The Eastern Regional Theatre has been completed, and work is currently ongoing towards the construction of the Kumasi theatre.
1. We are making a special effort from now onwards to attract tourists into our country. Under the See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana and Feel Ghana campaign, the Ghana Tourism Authority recorded a 20% growth since its launch to over six hundred thousand visitations to various tourist sites.
2. The World Bank has approved a US$40 million grant to support the Tourism Ministry and its agencies to help upgrade tourist facilities.
3. Training across the entire tourism sector is also receiving priority. The Hospitality Training Institute has been renovated, and re-opened in July 2018 to provide needed training in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
4. Under a Tourism Attractions Upgrade Project, several tourist sites, including Elmina Heritage Bay, Axim Fort St. Antonio, Assin Manso Slave River, Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm, Bunso Arboretum, Kintampo Water Falls, are undergoing upgrades.
5. In this “Year of Return”, when we have invited the world to visit, I would urge each one of us to make a special effort to make a visit to our country a memorable one. Our music, our foods, our clothes and the quintessential akwaaba smile will make a visitor to our country come back again and again.
1. We have witnessed an increase in the coverage of solid waste management, from 16.6% to 53%, and, over the course of last year, thirty-five thousand, eight hundred and sixty-two (35,862) household toilets were built, as opposed to one thousand, six hundred and ninety-eight (1,698) in 2016. We will intensify efforts at making Accra a clean city.
2. In 2019, apart from continuing with educating and sensitizing people, we intend to use the bye-laws to enforce cleanliness. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Sanitation are working together to try sanitation offences.
3. Persons who litter would be tried and punished, and so would those who steal litter bins from our streets.
4. We are launching a National Sanitation Brigade to help us carry this out, and, through this vehicle, we will not only keep our towns and cities clean, but will also provide jobs for our young people.
1. A vibrant recycling industry in Ghana could recover nearly one million tonnes of waste plastics from the environment and landfills annually, to be recycled into basic-need products valued at GH¢2 billion per year, creating many jobs across the economy.
2. Currently, extensive discussions are being concluded with investors on the most sustainable options available to rid Ghana of this plastic filth menace.
3. The National E-waste Program has been launched. An External Service Provider (SGS) will verify, assess and collect the advance recycle eco fee on all electrical and electronic equipment from all exporting countries, and also to establish a state-of-the-art recycling facility at Agbogbloshie, whose construction will begin in April.
4. Not only would we solve the problem of waste disposal in an environmentally-friendly manner, setting up the recycling facility will lead to the creation of over twenty thousand (20,000) direct jobs, through the establishment of associated holding centres in each regional capital and collection centres in each district.
1. It is absolutely imperative that we make a success of our One House-One-Toilet Policy. The Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Programme is being implemented in over four thousand, five hundred (4,500) communities in one hundred and thirty (130) districts to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities.
1. I am happy to announce that gas production tripled during the year, from 100 to 300 million cubic feet per day.
2. The Ministry of Energy is undertaking steps to remove the transmission bottlenecks, to ensure that Ghanaian gas can reach power plants located in the eastern part of the country, and I am confident that, by August this year, the situation would have been fully remedied to ensure Ghana uses locally produced gas for the bulk of its thermal power generation, saving substantial amounts of foreign exchange on imported fuels.
3. To reduce government’s expenditure on utilities, and also promote the use of solar power for government and public buildings, the Ministry of Energy initiated the Solar Rooftop Programme. The Ministry is leading by example with the installation of a 65-kilowatt solar rooftop system at its premises.
4. Jubilee House will also be powered, as from August this year, by solar energy, as an example to other public institutions.
5. In fact, government’s target is to install up to 200 megawatts of distributed solar power by 2030 in both residential and non-residential facilities in order to reduce Government’s liabilities to ECG.
6. There has been good news with the recent announcement by Aker Energy of one of the biggest oil finds in Africa. Mr Speaker, this has led me to think that an NPP government must be good for Ghana.
7. After many, many years of our looking and almost giving up, it took an NPP government to discover oil in 2007. In eight years of NDC administration, 13 oil block deals were signed, and not a single one was developed. The first one signed in 2017, under my government, which was Aker, has led to the second biggest oil discovery in Africa.
8. On the fight against corruption in the oil industry, and to aid transparency, we have established a National Register of Contracts on which all the Petroleum Agreements signed by the Government have been published. This provides a platform for citizens to scrutinize the oil contracts signed by government, and accords with the international call for contract transparency.
9. We have also passed the General Petroleum Regulations, which provide for the disclosure of beneficial ownership information of companies operating in Ghana’s oil and gas industry. This will ensure that people do not hide in the shadows to appropriate oil blocks to themselves, at the expense of the citizens of Ghana.
10. The interest of major oil companies in Ghana has become dramatic. Today, oil companies such as the American giant, ExxonMobil, and the Norwegian conglomerate, Aker, have signed petroleum exploration agreements with Ghana.
11. Through the launch of the “GHANA OIL AND GAS LICENSING ROUNDS 2018”, the bidding process for the allocation of new petroleum rights to prospective investors, the first such exercise in our history, other global players such as BP, CNOOC Group and Total have expressed interest in coming to Ghana.
BUSINESS DEV’T & ENTREPRENEURSHIP
1. Under the Presidential Support programme, one thousand, three hundred and fifty (1,350) start-ups and small businesses have benefitted from a special government business support programme. Beneficiaries received between ten thousand (GH¢10,000) and one hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢100,000) each, at a special interest rate of 10%, instead of the average prevailing market rate of 26%.
2. The Presidential Support programme is designed to help grow and expand businesses of beneficiaries, and will create about thirty thousand (30,000) direct jobs. Eighteen thousand (18,000) jobs have already been created under this programme.
TRADE & INDUSTRY
1. Already established businesses are also receiving help, with an amount of two hundred and thirty million Ghana cedis (GH¢230 million) being disbursed among sixteen (16) companies under the stimulus package. This has led to the creation of eight thousand, five hundred (8,500) to ten thousand (10,000) direct and indirect jobs.
2. Proof, if some were needed that we are getting something right, and generating the right atmosphere to attract foreign business, has come with the announcement that three major international automobile manufacturers, Volkswagen, Nissan and Sinotruck have signed MOUs to establish assembling plants in our country.
3. Renault is also conducting feasibility studies on establishing an assembly plant in Ghana, as is Toyota.
4. We will outdoor, in March, the National Automotive Policy spelling out the terms, conditions and incentive package for participating in Ghana’s new automobile industry, which will also apply to indigenous car assembly companies.
5. The local textile industry has been granted a zero-rated VAT on the supply of locally-made textiles for a period of three years.
6. We have put in place a tax stamp regime for both locally manufactured and imported textiles to address the challenge of pirated designs and logos in the textile trade.
7. The Tema Port has been designated as a Single-Entry Corridor for the importation of textile prints, with a textile taskforce in place to ensure effective compliance.
8. The “One-District-One-Factory” policy has taken off, and 79 factories under the scheme are at various stages of operation or construction. Another 35 are going through credit appraisal.
9. Under the Rural Enterprises Programme, funded by the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, 50 small-scale processing factories will be established by the end of the year in 50 districts across the country, particularly in areas where there is evidence of significant post-harvest losses.
1. MASLOC has been revamped, and is getting back to do what it was set up to do. There has been strict adherence to credit procedures and prudent management of the credit recovery process. These have resulted in a recovery rate of 89% of loans administered under a pilot scheme introduced in 2017.
2. MASLOC was given an amount of GH¢35 million in October 2018 for disbursement. This is the first time an amount of such magnitude has been given to the Centre outside of an election year.
3. So far, 87% of the monies disbursed from MASLOC have gone to women, i.e. to 24,582 women. The 2016 NPP Manifesto promised to allocate 50% of MASLOC funds to women, and we have surpassed this promise.
4. Interesting things are happening at the successfully restructured MASLOC, and that is why the Centre was allocated an amount of GH¢200 million in the 2019 budget. Such an amount is unprecedented in the history of MASLOC.
5. In 2019, MASLOC will give increased attention to youth start-up businesses in vegetable farming, poultry, piggery and fish farming.
1. The woes of the banking sector have also been a case of long-standing bad practices that we, previously, had been unable or unwilling to deal with, which we are now having to deal with in the most painful manner.
2. The clean-up of the banking sector has cost the national treasury GH¢12.7 billion. It was necessary to sanitise the sector, minimise job losses, and protect deposits of 1,147,366 Ghanaians and their businesses and the people they employed.
3. In all this, I have been anxious that our local banks are helped and given as much support as possible, but l will not be on the side of criminal behaviour if that is discovered. I would urge that we are all patient for the investigations to be made in a calm manner.
1. The MenzGold debacle is a tragic phenomenon that appears to have occurred in plain sight, and affected a lot of people, in spite of warnings from official institutions.
2. As the authorities try to unravel the intricacies of what happened (in the MenzGold saga), I admonish all Ghanaians to learn the necessary lessons for the future, even as State institutions work to bring a resolution to the matter, and those who are seen to have indulged in criminal activities, are brought to justice.
3. The existence of a body such as the newly inaugurated Presidential Financial Stability Advisory Council would have forestalled the emergence of the Menzgold saga, and will make it difficult, in future, for any such scheme to get off the ground.
1. Thanks to the programme for “Planting for Food and Jobs”, admirably organised by that outstanding Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, this House stands informed, that, in 2018, exports of food crops such as cassava, rice, yellow and white maize, soya, plantain, cowpea and yam were made FROM Ghana to Burkina Faso, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire in considerable quantities.
2. We had a bumper harvest of produce, and, last year, we did not import a single grain of maize.
1. The Aquaculture for Food and Jobs will be implemented for three years, from 2019 to 2021, in collaboration with the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) and the School Feeding Programme. It is expected to create 7,000 jobs, and add an extra 33,628 metric tonnes of fish to our domestic fish production. Piloting of the AFJ has already started at the James Camp Prison.
2. Government will collaborate with the private sector to facilitate the provision of 5,000 outboard motors and 55,250 bales of prescribed fishing gears through the fisheries associations.
3. To promote the effective and efficient distribution of premix fuel, we will continue to use the premix fuel tracking system, and audit landing beaches, measures which have ensured that, since November 2018, there has been no report of premix diversion, a marked improvement from the past.
4. US$185 million loan money has been earmarked for the construction of twelve (12) landing sites and two (2) fishing harbours in some selected fishing communities in the country. Phase I will kick off in March at Axim, Mumford, Winneba and Teshie.
5. Recently, I cut the sod to commence work at the Jamestown Harbour Complex, which, like the development of Elmina Fishing Harbour, is part of our plans for the fishing sector in 2019.
1. The ban on small scale mining has now been lifted, but not on galamsey. Some of our water bodies have shown remarkable signs of rejuvenation. River Ankobra, for example, looks restored to life; indeed, some fish have even been seen in the Ankobra for the first time in a long while.
2. We intend, for example, to mine, at long last, our bauxite deposits in order to establish an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana. The Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation, a statutory corporation, has been set up, with the support of Parliament, to spearhead Government’s commitment to create an integrated aluminium industry.
3. A data centre, the first of its kind, now exists at the Minerals Commission, which will allow prospective investors and partners to access every information regarding the bauxite deposits and the aluminium industry. The Minerals Commission is in the course of creating an equivalent data centre for our iron ore deposits.
GHANA ARMED FORCES
1. The Ghana Armed Forces assisted the National Security to embark on OPERATION ROADSTAR, and as a result a 40-cre cattle ranch has been constructed to accommodate over six thousand (6,000) cattle at Wawase, in Afram Plains, and reducing, considerably, the tensions in the area with the nomadic herdsmen.
There are plans to replicate these ranches in other parts of the country.
2. Government is pleased to have fulfilled its promise to the Military Personnel by increasing the United Nations Peacekeeping Troops contribution allowances from $30.00 TO $35.00 per soldier per day. And as promised, we will continue to pay the troops regularly at the operational areas.
3. Tomorrow, I will be presenting to the Ghana Armed Forces 50 ANKAI Buses, the first tranche of the 138 Staff and Operational Vehicles of various categories, and 26 dispatch motorcycles. This year, we will provide the Army with 30 Otokar Armored Personnel Carriers (APC), and 6 Fast Patrol Boats for the Navy.
4. We will also provide improved training facilities by transforming the Military Academy into a World Class Institution, and expand the housing project from six 16 flats to 44, and begin constructing 160 2-bedroom apartments across the country.
5. This year, we will also complete and commission the 500-bed Military Hospital in the Ashanti Region, and begin the third phase of this project.
6. The amendment of LI 1332, which is seeking to change the length of service of the men and women of the other ranks of the Ghana Armed Forces from 25 to 30 years and the associated career progression plan, has been reviewed, laid and passed by Parliament, and will be implemented this year as planned.
1. We have been busy this past year supplying the police with equipment, cars, motorbikes, drones and other vital policing equipment. Financial clearance has been given, and they are in the process of recruiting up to 4,000 men and women into the service.
2. It is obvious that most of the lower courts are not fit for purpose, and we must provide suitable structures for our law courts. Discussions on how to raise the money are currently ongoing, and I am optimistic that a solution will be found.
1. I am pleased to note that there appears to have been a marked change in the Ministry of Justice. No longer do we have people bringing frivolous claims against the State because they know the case will not be defended, and they will get judgement debts.
1. I am happy to state that, as you know, Parliament has virtually completed its deliberations on the Right To Information Bill, and that, any moment from now, the nation will hear the news of its passage. I will, happily, give my assent to it as soon as it is brought to my table.
1. Ghana remains an active player in international affairs, especially in the region of West Africa and on the continent of Africa. Ghana’s voice is loud and clear on issues at international fora. Good neighbourliness underpins our foreign policy and we try to be at peace with all. I have been intimately involved in trying to find a resolution to the difficulties in Togo, and we hope that they are coming to an end.
1. Everybody has by now heard about the arrangements we have made with the Chinese company, Sinohydro, and it is a matter of great relief to me that I am able to say that work will now be starting on the roads that have been designated to be part of that project. It is worth stating that we are very much aware that there are many more roads that do not come under the SinoHydro deal, which are also in a bad way and we continue to seek ways to build a road network worthy of our nation.
1. I am glad to be able to report that the Accra to Tema railway service has started running on the refurbished line.
2. The opening of the Accra/Nsawam line has been postponed, because sand winners have undermined the ground underneath the track near Pokuase. It is now being repaired, and the service will start hopefully by the end of February.
3. If we want the railways to work, we would all have to take an interest in and stop the activities of encroachers on the railway lands.
4. The rehabilitation of the narrow-gauge line will continue from Nsawam to Koforidua. Work is continuing on the rehabilitation of the Kojokrom to Tarkwa section of the Western line, whilst work on the standard gauge section from Kojokrom to Manso is ongoing.
5. Government is committing an extra one billion US dollars to the development of the new railway network. Five hundred million dollars ($500 million) will be applied to the development of the Western line, and five hundred million dollars ($500 million) will be applied to the first phase of the Kumasi to Paga section of the national network.
6. The development of the Tema/Ouagadougou railway line is also progressing steadily. Twelve shortlisted companies have been invited to proceed to the next stage of the procurement process. This year, land acquisition will commence beyond the Volta River at Mpakadan, and the strategic investor will be selected.
1. Operations at the Kumasi, Tamale, Takoradi airports have been revamped, with the resurgence in domestic airline operations through the introduction of domestic operators like Unity Air and Passion Air. Soon, the flag of Ghana will be flown again, as we have identified strategic investors to launch a Home-Based Carrier.
1. Mobile telephony has almost covered the entire country, and broadband internet connectivity is available in many places.
2. There are 1.2 million registered and verified addresses through the National Digital Property Addressing System; in other words, we have joined the modern world, and gradually leaving the right turn at the blue kiosk, and opposite the Kofi-broke-man seller.
3. People are able to renew their National Health Insurance cards in minutes in the comfort of their own homes. You can now renew your driving licence, and register a car in half an hour, register your business online, and acquire a passport in a week without any of the difficulties that used to come with trying to get any of these things done.
4. The National Identification card, the Ghana Card, has been issued to people in government departments and members of the security services, and, this year, the rest of the population will be registered and receive their cards. We are determined to join the digital world.
Ghana won, last year, the bid to host the 13th All Africa Games. It presents our nation with the opportunity to upgrade sporting infrastructure in the country, and position our nation as a preferred destination for the development of sporting disciplines on the continent.
We have begun renovating and upgrading our sporting infrastructure such as the Accra and Cape Coast Sports Stadia, and the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex in Kaneshie, and a complete refurbishment of sports facilities across the country.
Funds have also been released for the completion of the University of Ghana Sports Stadium, started by the Kufuor-led NPP Government, but abandoned soon after 2009.
The Ghanaian people are also expectant of a return to normalcy of all football-related activities as soon as possible, and the Normalization Committee is working to ensure that they meet the March deadline.
1. I could have sat it out, as some did, for Akwatia, Atiwa, Chereponi, Talensi and Amenfi West, but I decided that that would not be in the interest of Ghanaian democracy. The time has come to put an end to the phenomenon of politically-related violence.
2. The only way in our system to begin to deal with politically-related violence is through the work of a Commission of Inquiry. I hope the findings and recommendations of the Emile Short Commission will enable us chart a path to ending politically-related violence in our country.
3. The events of last Monday, in Kumasi, where a meeting of the national and regional executives of the opposition National Democratic Congress was broken up by acts of violence, leading to the tragic death of a citizen, have reinforced the urgent need for us to find that path.
4. I want to use the platform of this Message to make a sincere, passionate appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties in our country, NPP and NDC, to come together, as soon as possible, preferably next week, to agree on appropriate measures to bring an end to this worrying and unacceptable phenomenon of vigilantism in our body politic.
5. I have asked the leadership of the NPP to extend an invitation to the leadership of the NDC for such a meeting on vigilantism. The security services of the country will be on standby to assist this meeting.
6. If voluntary disbandment by the parties is not feasible, then I will initiate legislation on the matter. Vigorous debate and the exchange of ideas should be the true basis of political dialogue and competition in our country, not the activities of party vigilante groups.
7. What was tolerated over the years cannot and must not be accepted anymore. We must not take our peace and security for granted— not for a moment. Our children and grandchildren will not forgive us if we were to compromise our peace and stability. I will not permit that to occur under my watch.