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FULL TEXT: Meet the Press Series Communications Ministry 







Omane Boamah













Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press
Good morning, fellow Ghanaians

We wish to welcome you to the final edition of the Meet the Press series for this year, and consistent with our mandate, we are hopeful that at the end of this session with the media both the Citizenry and Government will be better served.

Let me begin by expressing Government’s profound appreciation to you, members of the media for the cooperation and partnership we have enjoyed from you over the years which has made the Meet-The-Press series an avenue for authentic information about Government’s activities.

Through your respective mediums, we have in the last four years played host to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies as they have taken turns to update the people of Ghana on various processes of implementation, with regards to executing the mandate given us by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana who you elected in 2012 to begin his first term.

But before I get to the subject of the day, please, let us all rise to observe one minute of silence for the former Cuban Leader, Fidel Castro who passed on to glory a few days ago. Fidel was a true friend of the poor and downtrodden and the world as a whole.

Today, the Ministry of Communications takes its turn to address you. Our address will go beyond just the happenings under our Ministry and within the Communications sector. We will provide a snapshot of what the Government of President John Dramani Mahama has been doing in order to improve the lives of Ghanaians and bring rapid socio-economic growth to our country. In doing so, we also acknowledge that notwithstanding the significant and palpable achievements, we all still have work to do and we are committed to working with you transform our dear nation.

Our approach to this Meet the Press session will touch briefly on where we are coming from, where we are and finally where we are going to. This will hinge on the four thematic areas based upon which President Mahama has been delivering on his mandate; namely, Putting People First, Building a Strong Economy for Jobs, Infrastructure and last but not least Transparent and Accountable Governance which will also focus on anticorruption.

We will then proceed to debunk some of the outright lies, fabrications and falsehoods being peddled against Government.

GHANA IS RISING! – THE ABUNDANT EVIDENCE

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,
Despite initial attempts to cripple the present administration, through a dubious election petition, the Government of President John Dramani Mahama set about the task of fulfilling its mandate to the good people of Ghana in brisk fashion.

Since the electoral victory of 2012, we have put considerable effort and resources into meeting the commitments that we made to you in our 2012 manifesto essentially because we believe campaign promises are blueprints that must be implemented, and even if one is unable to achieve all, it should not be for lack of effort. Today, it is undeniable that our dear nation Ghana is rising and the evidence can be gleaned by all. Here are a few:
? The latest United Nation’s Human Development Index has categorised Ghana within the Medium Human Development group, ahead of our neighbours like Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, and this record is better than what we have ever achieved in the past;
? Life expectancy has increased;
? Infant, (Under five), Child and maternal mortalities have reduced;
? The National Health Insurance Scheme continues to witness exponential growth with key performance indicators like outpatient utilization, claims payments and active membership all showing very positive growth;
? Youth literacy has improved and mean years in school is also increasing;
? The raw scores at the BECE level have hit an unprecedented high of above 500 with over 3,000 students attaining this feat which prior to 2014 had never happened;
? More students are attaining grades A1 to C6 at the WASSCE level (Our worst record is better than the best record of the NPP);
? Today water is more available than before and from a low of 58% in 2008, an impressive 80% of our population has access to clean drinking water;
? Access to electricity is now 82.5% from around 53% in 2008;
? Mobile telephony subscription has risen from a little over 11 million to 35 million and still counting;
? Data subscription is above 18 million;
? In the second quarter of 2016 the total number of short message services across networks hit the 511,858,875 mark;
? Budget deficit has dropped from a high of 12% in 2012 to 5%
? Inflation is on a downward trend;
? Our debt sustainability profile has improved and the Rating Agency Moody’s has recognised this;
? More jobs are being created;
? Ghana is the 7th least corrupt country in Africa on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (Our worst record is better than the best record of the NPP) and
? Ghana is 2nd in Africa on the 2015 Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project (WJP).

THE CHALLENGES WE COLLECTIVELY CONFRONTED

Ladies and Gentlemen,
These and many others have been achieved within the constraints of serious challenges which could have toppled some Governments. We can easily recollect the market fires, the fire at the Central Medical Stores which consumed strategic medical stocks including medications for children and pregnant women, unprecedented labour agitations, volatilities on the global economic front, dumsor among others. I have already alluded to the needless election petition which caught and consumed the attention of the nation for almost a year with its attendant “wait-and-see” attitude adopted by the business community both local and international.

Through these turbulent periods President Mahama has shown great leadership, remained resolute and kept the ship, Ghana, afloat. His calm demeanour, steady hands, ability to listen to different shades of opinions, unifying attributes, his spirit of forgiveness and his undying belief in God Almighty ensured our rapid recovery. The invaluable contributions of Ghanaians cannot be overemphasised.

Beyond this President Mahama also led all his appointees to show sensitivity by taking pay cuts and using the funds to support efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality. Ministers and political appointees are presently on the prepaid metering system for electricity supply and billing.

We took steps to rationalise the discrepancies in the Electricity Company’s billing system to the relief of consumers. Students’ loans have been reviewed upwards with an enhanced package for fresh students. And the producer price of cocoa has seen an unprecedented increase.

We have made significant progress and we are committed to achieving more and even better.

PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST

EDUCATION

We are improving access to quality education and are meeting parents halfway on the issue of affordability. Previously in many places where dilapidated structures and trees served as classrooms for our school children, today modern classroom blocks have been constructed to replace them and hundreds of thousands of school children are receiving instruction in these buildings. Teaching aides such as exercise books, textbooks, uniforms and other logistics have been distributed in millions and have gone a long way to make the learning environment more conducive.

Community Day Senior High Schools have sprung up in many communities in keeping with our promise to build them. Forty-two have already received students under the computer placement system and by the close of this year a total of 70 will be completed.

We are implementing the progressively free Senior High School education and there is every indication that this scheme will be expanded both in scope and coverage to ensure that fees do not become a basis upon which any child is denied access to secondary education.

At the Tertiary level, we have established two new public universities and secured funding for a third to be situated at Somanya and Donkorkrom in the Eastern Region. We have invested heavily in Technical and Vocational Education and championed the conversion of Polytechnics into Technical Universities with a view to giving our young people practical skills that will set them permanently on their way to securing new and emerging jobs for themselves.

We have, so far, converted eight (8) Polytechnics into technical universities and work is on-going to covert the remaining two, namely Bolgatanga and Wa Polytechnics.
Accompanying these interventions in universities, polytechnics, technical and vocational training schools, are the massive investments in infrastructure and supporting facilities such as laboratory equipment and demonstration materials; including the ultra-modern petroleum engineering laboratories equipped with oil drill simulators and other state of the art equipment.

Government has inaugurated a US$37 million Distance Education, ICT Facility for all 10 Regional Distance Education Centres. Government has also enhanced the students loan scheme with a substantial increase in the amount and the introduction of a special package for freshmen/women among others.
In the area of teacher training, – progressive Government reforms have led to equity and expanded access by over 60% without comprising on the financing resources available to trainees. Teachers in service have also benefited from in-service training among others.

Investments the Government of President John Mahama has made in education have not only improved access and quality of education but has also enhanced the prospects of employing more teachers and others in the educational sector and the same can be said for the health sector.

HEALTH

Our health indices are looking good, hence Ghanaians are living longer than our peers in other countries. Ghana’s current Life Expectancy at birth (63 years) is higher than Nigeria’s (55 years), Cote d’Ivoire’s (51.5 years) as well as the sub-Sahara Africa average (56.8 years).

We have done far more in the provision of modern health facilities than previous Governments before us in spite of our acknowledgement of their contributions. Today our people have more options for healthcare than at any other time in our history.

From constructing Teaching hospitals, Regional hospitals, District hospitals, Polyclinics, Health Centres and the CHPS compounds, we have, improved access to health care tremendously and created job opportunities for nurses (23,411 since 2013 and still counting), doctors, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled persons in the health sector for them to cater for the needs of citizens.

The quality of health care has also increased as more modern equipment such as New Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines, Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan and Digital Mammography Machines have been procured to augment the existing stock.

Under the Medical Equipment Improvement Programme, for example, $264million worth of equipment were procured for 150 health facilities nationwide including all regional hospitals and 125 district hospitals as well as Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals.

As I said earlier, the National Health Insurance Scheme continues to witness exponential growth with key performance indicators like outpatient utilization, claims payments and active membership all showing very positive growth.

The National Health Insurance Scheme is working and will be even better going forward as we continue to improve efficiency and inject additional funds from the proposed Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) from the petroleum revenue. We will hasten the implementation of the Chris Atim led Committee Report which was set up by President Mahama to review the operations of the health insurance scheme with the view to making appropriate diagnosis and having credible recommendations to be addressed.

Yes, the scheme has some challenges, which we are confronting head-on in order to serve the needs of the citizenry better; but it is oceans away from the collapsed mantra the NPP has rehearsed and has been rehashing albeit without success because the facts do not support their exaggerated conclusions.

What are the facts? We have paid the highest amounts to service providers. In 2015 we paid over GHC 1billion which has increased remarkably from the very modest payments of the earlier years e.g. a paltry GHC183 million in 2008 under the NPP Government. Outpatient utilisation alone stood at over 29 million in 2015 having increased tremendously from only 9 million as at 2008.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Is it not ironic that the Health Insurance Scheme which political opponents tout as having collapsed has today become a major campaign tool for some Members of Parliament (MPs)? Listen to them carefully and you hear them boast of the number of constituents they have enrolled on the scheme. Which is which? Has the scheme collapsed or not? Your guess is as good as mine.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With the many soft and hard interventions in the health sector, it is clearly not surprising that critical health indicators are showing positive trends. Ghana’s infant and child mortality rates have all declined post 2008, while life expectancy today is at an all-time high; suggesting that averagely Ghanaians are healthier and living longer beyond the average retiring age.

SOCIAL PROTECTION

? We achieved the first target of the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty two years ahead of the 2015 deadline;
? Launched the National Social Protection Policy;
? Increased the LEAP beneficiary households from 71,000 in January 2013 to 146,074 in June 2016;
? Increased the proportion of the District Assemblies Common Fund allocated to Persons with Disability by 50%;
? Proposed amendments to the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) to make it consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability;
? Developed a draft on Ghana Accessibility Standards on the built environment in collaboration with the Ghana Standards Authority to facilitate access for persons with disability;
? Introduced the Elderly Persons Welfare Card (EBAN) to 10,526 elderly persons above 65 years to provide 50% rebate on Metro Mass transport fare for the elderly, priority access to all social services, transport terminals, hospitals and banks; and
? Finalised the National Ageing Bill for submission to Parliament among others.

SPORTS

In the area of sports, President Mahama has recently inaugurated the magnificent Bukom Boxing Arena which is part of the Trust Sports Emporium to serve as a major local and international boxing arena. This followed the completion and inauguration of the ultra-modern Cape Coast Stadium and Sports Complex.

Sod has also been cut for the construction of a 10,000-seater stadium at New Edubiase in the Ashanti Region, and with a visionary focus to the future, the President has reiterated his intention to convert ten of the Community day Senior High Schools, one in each region, into centers of excellence for sports. This will improve on the pool of sporting talents for the national teams.

INFASTRUCTURE

Today more people have access to clean water. Statistics indicate that water supply to the general populace currently stands at an impressive 80%. . This is as a result of the over US$1 billion investment in the water sector through projects such as Kpong Water Expansion Project (Phase 1) –supplying 40mllion gallons per day, and the Teshie Desalination Water Plant – providing 13,2 million gallons per day, Asante Mampong Water
Supply Project -1.6 million gallons per day, Essakyir Water Supply Project(Phase 1) – 3.2 million gallons per day, and Five Towns Water Supply Project (covering Kyebi, Osenase, Anyinam, Apedwa and Kwabeng) – 1.5million gallons per day) .

As at the end of 2014, a total of 77.5 million gallons of water per day (mgd) had been added to the national water supply system. President Mahama only a week ago paid a working visit to a 3.2 million gallons of water per day water treatment plant which will be serving the people of Wa and its environs.
With regards to road infrastructure, our roads have gotten better as unprecedented investments have been pumped into fixing them.

Across the length and breadth of our country, massive effort has gone into making our roads more motorable to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services. This has impacted positively on our national life.
The recently launched Kwame Nkrumah Interchange is one of many road transport projects that Government is undertaking under the “The Changing Lives, Transforming Ghana” Agenda.

The construction of the Kasoa Interchange and ancillary works has currently reached an advanced stage and phase one will be opened to traffic tomorrow, Tuesday, 29th November, 2016.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

President Mahama is indeed changing lives and transforming Ghana; there is no doubt about that.
In the capital city of Accra, rehabilitation and opening of roads within the Accra East corridor has brought tremendous relief to many inhabitants of the eastern part of the city.

The substantial-completion of the Awoshie-Pokuase Road has improved access between Awoshie and Pokuase and reduced travelling time and brought relief to drivers and commuters in the corridor.

The commencement of the work on the Pokuase Interchange will further open up the western corridor of Accra and facilitate the east-west interconnectivity of the capital city.

The Asphaltic overlay on over 400km of roads within the Accra and Tema Metropolitan Areas has significantly improved the quality of the road surface within the beneficiary communities. Other municipal areas and district capitals including Cape Coast, Koforidua, Takoradi, Kumasi, Ho among others have also benefitted from this project. ‘Some call it democratisation or decentralisation of asphalt’.

Many communities have also experienced significant improvement on the surface condition of their roads as a result of the implementation of the GHC 3billion Cocoa Roads Improvement Project and the substantial or full completion of several kilometres of national and regional roads notably Western Corridor Road Project (Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayamfuri road – 94 kilometres), Eastern Corridor (Dodo Pepesu-Nkwanta-54 kilometres) and Fufulso-Sawla road (147kilometres).

The completion of the aforementioned roads in Accra and elsewhere make it imperative for further works to be carried out in various parts of the country to reduce bottlenecks and accelerate the integration and the rapid development of the nation.

To this effect, work has begun to improve congestion on the Tema Motorway Roundabout and work will soon begin on the following critical roads and interchanges.

These include;
• The Obetsebi Lamptey Interchange and ancillary works in Accra.
• The Pokuase Interchange and ancillary works in Ga West Municipality
• The Flower Pot Roundabout flyover and a flyover across the Motorway into East Legon and Adjiriganor;
• The dualisation of major road networks including Accra – Cape Coast – Takoradi, Accra – Kumasi, Afienya – Tema Motorway Roundabout and;
• The Construction of the Volivo Bridge across the Volta River on the Eastern Corridor.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the Communications sector we have recently opened the Accra Digital Centre which is in the process of creating over 10,000 direct jobs for our youth. In the next three weeks we will be receiving applications for enrolment of the first batch of two thousand (2,000) applicants to be trained at no cost to them in Business Process Outsourcing mechanics.

The Ministry of Communications will fully fund the training through the Innovation Fund of the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic communication (GIFEC).

We are presently finalising outstanding works for the Ghana – Mauritius ICT Park project to take off and we are determined to convert the Regional Innovation Centers and the Enhanced Community Information Centers into mini BPO Centers as a way of diffusing IT Enabled jobs into the districts.

An ultramodern National Data Centre has been completed and 808km of fibre optic cable has been laid along the eastern corridor of our country from Ho to Bawku with a link from Yendi to Tamale. Efforts are already underway to undertake a similar project along the Western corridor of the country.

Ghana’s quest to migrate from analogue television broadcasting to digital is in its final phase of construction and we are finalising processes to support our universal access obligation efforts by distributing one million Set Top Boxes. This is because we believe every citizen is entitled to the better picture, sound quality and interactivity that digital broadcasting provides. Simply put, President Mahama’s Government is bringing ‘DSTV’ to your home irrespective of your social and economic background.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our record is impressive and even our fiercest critics know they cannot match us. Talk about housing (Saglemi, Keta Sea Defence Housing Project at Adzido, Kedzi and Vodza, Nyame Dua Estates, Security Services Housing Project); Talk about transportation and one cannot miss the US$1 billion expansion of the Port of Tema to four times its current capacity. Additionally hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the expansion of the Port of Takoradi.

Ghana now has three airports capable of receiving international flights, namely Kotoka International, Kumasi and Tamale airports. A modern mini airport at Ho is also nearing completion while an ultra-modern 5 million passenger capacity Terminal three is due for completion by the middle of next year at the Kotoka International Airport.

Only two days ago, President Mahama commissioned the Takoradi to Sekondi via Kojokrom Suburban Rail line and the new railway station. This entails three modern train stations at Sekondi, Takoradi and Kojokrom and two new diesel powered trains to ply the route.

This project marks the beginning of the Western Rail line which is one of the priorities of President Mahama in the years ahead. In addition to this, some US$ 300 million has been secured for work on an 84 kilometre rail line between Tema and Akosombo in the Asuogyaman District in the Eastern Region.

Just last week President Mahama commissioned the ‘Aayalolo’ Bus System to commence operations on the Amasaman to the Central Business District. The buses are disability friendly – a major relief to our people.
The on-going and completed projects in railways, maritime, aviation and road transport are already providing thousands of sustainable jobs and creating wealth for the good people of Ghana, with more projects and interventions in the offing.

We are optimistic that beyond the over 400, 000 jobs created just by investing heavily in public infrastructure over the past four years, business will expand and international trade will be boosted to generate more revenue, foreign exchange and jobs in the coming years particularly as Ghana’s economy is tipped to grow above 8%.

STRONG ECONOMY FOR MORE JOBS
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,
Ghana is rising. Our economy is projected to grow above 8% next year and we expect to leverage this to create more jobs for the youth.
Our budget deficit is currently 5% from a high of 12% in 2012. Inflation is trending downwards and our currency has performed creditably this year. It is in fact the best-performing currency in West Africa outside of the CFA Zone. Consistent with Alexander Hamilton’s belief and that of other transformational Economists’ that, “a national debt if not excessive, will be to us a national blessing,” we are ensuring both debt sustainability and pursuing massive infrastructural development concurrently.
Available data indicates that stability has been restored and the prospects for growth are even brighter now than ever before. Let’s face it, for the first time in decades, Government is implementing its budget with 0% financing from the Central Bank. As you may already be aware, social interventions which hitherto were funded by donors in the NPP era, such as the school feeding programme (for less than 500,000 pupils) and other social protection interventions, are now fully funded by our Government. The numbers of children benefitting under the School Feeding Programme has risen to about 1.7 million pupils now.
In the cocoa sector, the total amount of metric tonnes produced every year both under President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, (may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace) and under President Mahama has always been higher and above what was experienced under the NPP. One only needs to talk to cocoa farmers to appreciate the satisfaction that greeted the recent unprecedented increment in the producer price of cocoa.
For those who are interested in ‘cement politics’ I dare say that the lot of the cocoa farmer is better today than it was 8 years ago. In 2008 the producer price of a bag of cocoa could buy only ten bags of cement. Today it can buy about 15 bags of cement.
The resolution of the power sector challenges encountered has also provided additional impetus to our quest to grow the economy and generate more jobs. Businesses can now be guaranteed access to stable and reliable power.
Ghana’s investment climate continues to improve and only a few weeks ago, we were adjudged as the best place to do business in West Africa ahead of Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. We have also moved up 13 places on the global ease-of-doing business index in the latest rankings.
This impressive performance is buttressed by the undeniable fact that, the biggest single investment in our country’s history has occurred under the Leadership of President John Dramani Mahama. I am referring to the US$7 billion ENI deal for the Sankofa Fields. This will further open up the oil and gas sector and create more jobs in addition to the 5,000 Ghanaians already employed in the oil and gas value chain.
Due to the enabling environment we have created, more investments keep pouring into Ghana. Over sixty-nine companies have registered and set up under the Free Zones since 2013 with a total investment of over US$ 1 billion (US$ 1, 080,771,488) and these companies have employed 21,354 Ghanaians.
So clearly whiles Government continues to employ directly and indirectly, the private sector is also expanding and employing more Ghanaians as well. Ghana is rising under President Mahama.
We are aware of and have always remained aware of the centrality of job creation to both national and global youth. Hence in the last few years we have been working to create as many opportunities as possible for our young people. We have intervened directly as Government in the area of manufacturing and industry through the establishment and revamping of factories which have and will create job opportunities for thousands of our youth.
These include:
•Atuabo Gas Processing Plant;
•Kumasi Shoe Factory;
•Komenda Sugar Factory (Backward Integration);
•Elmina Fish Processing Factory;
•Buipe Shea Factory (Two more to be established in the Upper East and Upper West);
Bolgatanga Meat Processing Factory; and the
The Tamne irrigation project and its associated agricultural prospects

As a government founded on Social Democratic principles we believe that government has business doing business and therefore has a major role to play in job creation. We are also aware however that with the right kind of incentives and support, the private sector can do more to create additional jobs.
Accordingly we have in the last few years extended significant support to the private sector to facilitate the creation of more jobs. Between 2013 and 2015 GHc400 million was given directly to private companies and organizations under the EDAIF and the Skills Development Fund (SDF). Companies in the agricultural, textile and Pharmaceutical sectors have benefitted from this support which has led to the creation of thousands of jobs.
Through a policy of awarding textbook printing contracts exclusively to Ghanaian printers, four thousand jobs are being created. Many other additional interventions have led to massive job creation and they include:
• Rural Enterprise Programme,
• Youth in Agric Programme,
• MASLOC,
• Youth Employment Programme,
• Youth Enterprise Support and many others.
Between 2009 and 2016, a total of 78,000 teachers have been engaged while 23,411 nurses have been employed since 2013. Financial clearance has been obtained and recruitment processes have begun for another 8,000 nurses to be recruited.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Perhaps turning ones mind to the Ghana Statistical Service’s September 2015 “Integrated Business Establishment Survey” which showed that in 2014 alone, a total of 207,492 jobs were created in three sectors, Agriculture, Industry and Services will convince doubting ‘Thomases’ if any still exists now.
Also, available data at SSNIT shows that over 400,000 new workers employed by about 20,000 new businesses have been registered. This figure is not complete as there are many more in both the formal and informal sectors who are yet to be captured.
These collective achievements notwithstanding, President Mahama is aware and appreciates the fact that we still have highly qualified, qualified and unskilled people in search of jobs. He associates with their plight and is working to resolve the challenge devoid of partisanship and unnecessary politicisation.
When you hear some respected people in the main opposition party and people who have been in Government in the past, attempt to exploit the genuine concerns of young people about jobs for the sake of political expediency, then you realise they have missed the point and they are not ready to govern.
They are out of touch with reality. Is it not a matter of record that these politicians utilized the mandate given them between 2001 and 2008 to do a fraction of what we have done? Many of the young they are courting would have found employment long before the NDC came into office, particularly as they promised to provide jobs for all of them in the year 2000 and went ahead to register over one million, but failed woefully to give them jobs as they had promised. What makes their rantings more pathetic is that, they do not offer credible alternatives. President Mahama will not sacrifice the long term interest of our nation for short term partisan political gains. For talk is cheap and as others talk and promise he has proven to be ‘The Doer” and is creating more jobs and will continue to create even more and better jobs through interventions such as the Atuabo Free port project, the Integrated Aluminium Industry, the Accra Digital Center, agribusiness (cashew, rubber, oil palm, shea butter…) among others.

TRANSPARENT AND ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNANCE
Ladies and gentlemen of the press,
We wish to turn attention now to the subject of governance, transparency, peace and security.
Over the last four years, credible and measurable steps have been taken to make corruption an unattractive venture. In the past, justifications have been provided for why the canker was not tackled. We were told among others that corruption started from Adam and that Governmental corruption would not be exposed because it would lead to the collapse of the NPP Government.
President Mahama on the other hand has taken bold and decisive steps to address the issue. Where ever credible information about acts of malfeasance has been brought to his attention, he has directed the appropriate institutions to investigate, and where a basis exists for prosecution, this has been done.
This is evidenced in the National Service and GYEEDA cases. We all feel frustrated sometimes by the snail pace of the judicial process but as the President has stated emphatically, we cannot be adherents of constitutional democracy and at the same time be admirers of arbitrary justice. We have demonstrated a resolute commitment to use all legal means to seek redress; let’s trust our institutions to eventually deliver justice consistent with the law.
Institutional, policy and legal reforms have also been carried out to streamline public financial management to further narrow gaps and loopholes that could be exploited by some officials to line their pockets with state resources.
We are implementing the National Anti-corruption Action Plan (NACAP). NACAP is a 10 – year Action Plan which was unanimously adopted by Parliament as a non-partisan document and a blueprint for fighting the menace. This plan is anchored in a three prong approach —- Prevention, Education and Enforcement. The first year report that was issued was very positive and showed the willingness of stakeholders to defeat the canker.
These efforts are real and have accordingly reflected in the performance of Ghana in the most credible global corruption ranking. The Transparency International, the World’s most reputable authority on anti-corruption matters has ranked Ghana on its Corruption Perception index, the 7th least corrupt nation in Africa. And let me add, being victims of our own success, on year by year basis, our lowest record is better than the NPP’s best record.

In recent times however, some politicians have sought to exploit genuine concerns held by sections of the Ghanaian public, equally shared by Government on the issue of judgement debts for parochial partisan gain. Despite the availability of copious evidence of specific steps taken to preserve the interest of the nation in a number of cases, a deliberate effort is being made by these partisan elements in conjunction with a small section of the media aligned to their cause to paint a contrary picture. They will not succeed; because the truth is on our side.
For the avoidance of doubt, President Mahama’s Government has fought cases of judgment debts and potential judgment debts more vigorously than previous Governments. In less than four years, we have successfully defended and saved Ghana over US$1billion and these include cases involving Balkan Energy Ghana Ltd, Sweater and Socks among others.
In tackling the problem head-on, President Mahama set up the Sole Commission of Inquiry to investigate payments from public funds arising from judgment debts. The revelations ranging from the Drill Ship saga, to some terrible technical mistakes on the part of officialdom are amazing. Notwithstanding the legal obstacles deliberately put in our way to obstruct full implementation of the recommendations of the Sole Commissioner, we are still pursuing every available option to ensure justice is done.
It is noteworthy, that some of the politicians and their surrogates making the loudest noise can be found culpable when their foots are exposed to the fire of scrutiny. Like they say in the Akan proverb, ‘S3 at3nt3nhuro tua wo to a, ma 3nhwiri gya’, to wit- ‘he who has a fluffy substance stuck in the natal cleft should not traverse the path of fire.’
We note, and regrettably so, that some people opposed to this administration in a bid to curry favour with the electorate and undermine Government’s reputation for electoral gain have continued to distort facts and in conjunction with their allies concealed glaring instances of incompetence and or collusion of their leaders in major judgment debt cases. President Mahama abhors payment of dubious judgment debts. Indeed we are preventing and fighting cases as you can find from the eleven cases listed from page 154 of the book- “Accounting to The People” aka ‘The Greenbook’. We also equally abhor double standards and exploitation of the genuine concerns of the people for partisan gain.
I will highlight three cases to illustrate this point:
1.The Drill Ship saga;
2. The case of Great Cape Company Ltd; and
3. The case involving Balkan Energy (just to emphasise how this Government takes its work serious contrary to what others may wish that you swallow.)
THE DRILL SHIP SAGA
As was revealed during the work of the Sole Commissioner, the leader of the largest opposition party, whose party has led the deliberate distortion and patent falsehoods about judgment debts, failed inexplicably to defend the interest of the state in the infamous GNPC vs Societe General suit in a London court.
Then Attorney General Nana Akufo Addo withdrew the legal representation of GNPC in the case. His failure to replace the lawyers of the GNPC or to represent them himself in court, led to the award of a colossal US$48 million default judgement against the Ghana Government and the Taxpayer.
At the public hearing on the matter, then Minister for Energy at the time of the Drill Ship saga, Hon Albert Kan Dapaah, revealed that Societe General in the course of the London court hearing sent an emissary to Ghana who offered to settle the claim with an amount of US$14 million in lieu of the potential US$ 48 million outcome. Nana will neither settle nor defend potential cases of judgment debt.
The current NPP leader as Attorney General failed to bring this negotiation to the attention of the London court leading to the award of US$48 million which was later negotiated downwards.
Had Nana Akufo Addo, been more diligent, the most judgement debt that Ghana would have been saddled with would have been US$14 million and not the colossal US$48 million. This is a matter of verifiable public record (Sole Commissioner’s report).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Contrast this with the approach of President Mahama who when confronted with the canker of judgment debts, opened them up to be investigated and where necessary commenced prosecutions or any other necessary actions.

THE GREAT CAPE COMPANY LTD.
The facts of the Great Cape case may be known to many. It arises out of a dispute between Ghana National Procurement Agency (GNPA) and Great Cape Company Ltd. In 1978, the former contracted the latter to supply 200,000 tonnes of cement. Along the line, the contract was abrogated and “full and final’ settlement paid according to a letter written by then finance Minister Mr Richard Kwame Pepra. Shockingly, the Great Cape Company Ltd brought a frivolous application to “hoodwink“ the state and the taxpayer. Unfortunately Nana Akufo Addo came to their aid! And here is the evidence.

? On 3rd October, 2011, three years after leaving office, Nana wrote a letter to support the Great Cape Company in furtherance of its illegitimate claims on Government and the Taxpayer, “I am somewhat disturbed by its contents, which have led to the unusual request contained in the letter. It is disconcerting to find that public record keeping has fallen into such straits that the files on this matter cannot be found either in the Ministry of Justice or in the Ministry of Finance. Be that as it may, it would be unconscionable on the part of Government if its poor record keeping is used to defeat legitimate claims of its creditors.”

? Nana was wrong! Great Cape Company did not have any ‘’legitimate claims’’ to make.

? Great Cape Company Ltd was trying to “hoodwink” the state and the taxpayer, and he incompetently fell for it.

? On 21st October, 2016, just about a month ago, in the judgment delivered by His Lordship Eric K. Baffour Esq. on this matter ably defended by the Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, His Lordship concludes, “On the whole, the plaintiff (Great Cape Company Ltd- emphasis mine) who bore the burden of proof at the end of the trial, his claim remained unproved and unimpressive. His claim could not hold water. Whiles the evidence of the defendants showed plaintiff had attempted to hoodwink them to make a further payment. In conclusion, Plaintiff’s claim is dismissed in its entirety. I will exercise my discretion and award cost of Ghc50.000.00 in favour of the defendant.”

? So how on earth did Nana a former Attorney General and a member of the Ghana Bar Association write to support the Great Cape Company Ltd. to hoodwink the state and the taxpayer? Fact is, his predecessor, Dr Obed Asamoah had never accepted a “continuing liability” so he could not have been acting based on his predecessor’s advice.

? Here again a relevant quote from His Lordship Justice K. Baffour’s judgment will suffice. “………Dr. Obed Asamoah concludes that letter in the following: “As a result of the long delay, the interest on the principal sum has accumulated over the period (1981 – 1997) to approximately US$544.000.00. This together with the principal sum of US$400.000.00 comes up to US$944.000.00 out of which the legal costs incurred by GNPA can be deducted. I therefore invite you to accept liability for the sum of US$944.000.00 for GNPA and approve payment of the said sum.” “Where in this letter, whether express or implied did Dr. Obed Asamoah admit that there was a continuing liability of the government after the payment of the sum stated in that letter for plaintiff to demand further payments.” The Judge asked and further added, “The contrary is rather evinced by the reading of Ex ‘W’. What more, it destroy (sic) the foundation of the claim of plaintiff’s attorney that interest on the payment made to its principal was only calculated up to 1987.”

This is a very bad case from the start. It appears prima facie that then Attorney General, Nana Akuffo Addo deliberately lied to assist the Plaintiff in his claim. At best he should not have written such a letter. And this is based on the fact that he stated in his letter of October 3, 2011 that his memory was failing him on the matter. “I have a vague recollection of the transaction and can readily confirm that the signature on the letter ILD/SCR/002 dated 18th April, 2001 addressed to the Ministry of Finance, attached to your letter, is indeed mine.” Akufo Addo wrote.
His actions fell short of the high standards required of an Attorney General of the Republic of Ghana.
Talking of judgment debts, as earlier alluded to, Nana’s failure to defend Ghana’s interest in the case of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation’s (GNPC’s) Drill ship matter – Discoverer 511, also has serious implications and brings into sharp focus his personal lack of commitment, dexterity and competence to pursue the interest of the state and the taxpayer.

And this is why we have maintained that it serves no fruitful purpose if we play political football with judgment debts because the NPP led by Nana Akufo Addo and their surrogates will not win such a contest because President Mahama’s record on fighting judgment debts is superior and better.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
So let us act in unison to fight dubious judgment debts and indeed prevent potential judgment debts and all crimes, lest we allow the beneficiaries to hide under partisan colourations to the detriment of the state. Let me also add that the media who have demonstrated considerable interest in judgment debts should not be selective in their reportage and discourse. They should be interested in the Drill Ship saga, the Great Cape saga, the manner in which some non-politicians exploited the system as revealed by the Sole Commissioner’s report, and when they do so, I repeat when they do so, I will add that they will be operating on the wavelength of even handedness and in the national interest.
President Mahama’s unwavering commitment to retrieving every pesewa paid illegally, to any individual including Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome, entities or countries continues unabated. President Mahama has demonstrated the will to protect the public purse and this finds expression in the over US$1billion savings achieved just because the Attorney General’s Department adhered to his publicly known directive, that they should defend such cases and indeed has been defending same.

BALKAN ENERGY
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have selected this case involving Balkan Energy to demonstrate how well President Mahama’s Government fights cases of judgment debts or potential judgement debts. Nothing personal.
The claim of Balkan was for an award of US$200 million in favour of Balkan. The Attorney General’s Department vigorously defended the matter, and was able to reduce the final outcome from a whopping US$200 million to US$12 million. I have attached two letters to elucidate my assertions. One was a request written from the law firm, Bentsi Enchill Letsa & Ankomah signed by Lawyer Ace Ankomah and the other is the electronic mail response from the Attorney General discharging her duties under President Mahama.
This is why I maintain that it serves no purpose if we play political football with judgment debts and the larger issue of anti-corruption. Let us fight it together, let us all support the implementation of the National Anticorruption Action Plan (NACAP) devoid of political point scoring, for that offers havens or sanctuaries for criminals to escape genuine scrutiny and it should not matter whose ox is gored.
If Nana Akufo Addo errs in favour of Great Cape and Pressure Groups and small sections of the media treat that with a blind eye, you end up diminishing the fight against wrongdoing, negligence and incompetence.
Once again, I wish to assure all Ghanaians that Government will continue to pursue every pesewa illegally paid from public funds to any individual or entity without fear or favour. We will continue to implement the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) together with all stakeholders to ensure that corruption increasingly becomes a high risk activity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me now deal with a few of the fabrications and falsehoods peddled against Government over the period. Time will certainly not permit us to exhaust them. But I believe if any of you has chanced on the contents of the animation making rounds about the ‘lie detector’ and two gentlemen, then you will appreciate why Government must be understood if we use this platform to deal with such lies; afterall we owe it to the people to keep them informed. I commend whoever developed that animation; very revealing.

NOW THE LIES
1. On 9th December, 2014, the NPP Flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo lied about the cost of the Kasoa Interchange and insisted it had been inflated at the Alhaji Aliu Mahama Memorial lectures (May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace). Not even facts to correct the obvious misinformation from an NPP not NDC Minority ranking member of parliament on the Roads and Transport Committee, could satisfy him. This is false!
2. On 19th October, 2015, Nana lied about some US$10 million spent by Government to print diaries. Once again this is false!!
3. On 21st October, 2015 he claimed at a gathering in Amsterdam that Government and the Electoral Commission were scheming to rig the 2016 elections. He provided no proof. Another falsehood!!!
4. On 19th December, 2015 he lied at an NPP Delegates Conference in Sunyani that all Government projects have been awarded to enrich Government officials. He provided no proof. Another falsehood!!!!
5. On 29th February, 2016 he lied that the Ridge Hospital Project was inflated by US$ 142 million. Yet another falsehood!!!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The lies of the the former Deputy Governor partnering Nana against this Government are even more disingenuous. The case of the servant undoing the master.
6. On 25th March, 2015 he lied at a lecture at the Central University College that the African Development Bank (AfDB) had suspended Ghana the previous month and we were still on suspension as of the time he was delivering the lecture. AfDB denied this claim. Another falsehood!!!!!! and
7. In November, 2015 Dr Bawumia lied that the NDC Government has borrowed US$ 37 billion in seven years. The illogical implications of his claim was quickly exposed. He then shifted the goalpost and tried to explain that he was talking about “the value” of money borrowed when our debt has never been calculated through the fraudulent manipulation of figures that he attempted to adopt that day.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The list is endless, but we believe in the wisdom and discernment of the Ghanaian. Ghanaians are discerning and cannot be hoodwinked considering the glaring facts about the impressive state of developments and the brighter and better prospects ahead.

CONCLUSION
But Ghana is not ending its forward march to greater glory. And as I indicated from the outset, Ghana is rising and the evidence is abundant:
? The latest United Nation’s Human Development Index has categorised Ghana within the Medium Human Development group, ahead of our neighbours like Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, and this is better than what we have ever achieved in the past;
? Life expectancy has increased;
? Infant, (Under five), Child and maternal mortalities have reduced;
? The National Health Insurance Scheme continues to witness exponential growth with key performance indicators like outpatient utilization, claims payments and active membership all showing very positive growth;
? Youth literacy has improved and mean years in school is also increasing;
? The raw scores at the BECE level have hit an unprecedented high of above 500 with over 3,000 students attaining this feat which prior to 2014 had never happened;
? More students are attaining grades A1 to C6 at the WASSCE level (Our worst record is better than the best record of the NPP);
? Today water is more available than before and an impressive 80% of our population has access to clean drinking water;
? Access to electricity is now 82.5% from around 53% in 2008;
? Mobile telephony subscription has risen from a little over 11 million to 35 million and still counting;
? Data subscription is above 18 million;
? In the second quarter of 2016 the total number of short message services across networks hit the 511,858,875 mark;
? Gargantuan infrastructure spread across the entire country to serve the present age and future generations;
? Budget deficit has dropped from a high of 12% in 2012 to 5%
? Inflation is on a downward trend;
? Our debt sustainability profile has improved and the Rating Agency Moody’s has recognised this;
? More jobs are being created;
? Ghana is the 7th least corrupt country in Africa on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and
? Ghana is 2nd in Africa on the 2015 Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project (WJP).
Fellow Ghanaians,
These are the very reasons why we must commit ourselves to peaceful coexistence and work as one people with a common destiny to change more lives and transform our dear nation Ghana. Ghana must not, should not, and would not grind to a halt because we have Presidential and Parliamentary elections ahead of us. Let every citizen go about his or her legitimate duties without let or hindrance.

President Mahama, as Commander-In-chief of the Ghana Armed Forces will continue to liaise with the security agencies to ensure peace and stability before, during and after the elections. Swift action would be taken, should anybody or group of persons decide to toy with the peace and stability that we have enjoyed as a nation over the years.

The security agencies have been retooled in a manner that is unprecedented hence they are ready for any untoward eventualities. As the Minister for the Interior indicated previously, the political parties must stop their various ‘forces’ from interfering in the electoral process.

Fellow Ghanaians,
Let me conclude by urging everyone, the we go to the polls and express our will and be assured that God’s will, will be done. Elections are not about cutting heads; they are about counting heads.
On this note, I say thank you very much for your attention and the support that we have enjoyed from you over the period during the Meet the Press Series. You may now ask questions.






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