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General News of Thursday, 25 February 2010

Source: Ghana Celebrities

Papa Kwesi Nduom on State of nation Address

“AGENDA FOR CHANGE: STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS 2010 – TOPICS THE PRESIDENT MUST DEAL WITH” Statement presented by Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom on February 22, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media:

Introduction

Thank you for accepting my invitation as we continue to pursue the Agenda for Change. I wish to thank you for the broad coverage your television and radio stations; and newspapers have given to the matters addressed in previous sessions. The last time we were together, I discussed my assessment of the first year of the President John Evans Atta-Mills-led NDC Administration. I am grateful to you for the coverage and attention you gave to the material I presented at that press conference.

At the last press conference, I also announced my intent to discuss the change that is needed in the Convention People’s Party (CPP). After careful consideration, I realised that the timing would not be right to talk about the state of affairs in the CPP in late February. The Party itself has recently put together a National Task Force to energise the re-organisation of the Party. Tomorrow will also be the 44th Anniversary of the February 1966 coup that toppled the Nkrumah-led CPP Administration. Tomorrow reminds many of us about the harmful effects a few people can visit on millions of their country men and women. I am referring to the coup makers and their backers who cut short the dream of rapid industrialisation, self-determination, work and happiness.

But February 24th also reminds some of us of the existence of treachery and trickery - mongers within CPP ranks as we found out soon after the coup. Unfortunately, such men and women can still be found in today’s CPP – willing to use the name CPP for their own selfish ends. Quite frankly, I am tired of the divisive posture of so-called leading members, those who cannot compete and yet want to win national executive positions or become flagbearers; those who want to lead but do not want to commit to supporting those who win at Congress if they lose. I am disappointed by those who claim they have been ordained to lead the CPP and are roaming the world raising funds in the name of the Party and yet are starving it of funds needed for organisation work. I have had enough of latter-day politicians who rubbish the efforts of those who have toiled since 1992 to ensure that there is a party called CPP to reform. You do not build by destroying others. A party must build on the efforts of its past and present leaders and members. You build by uniting your people. But, I do not want to talk about the CPP today. At the right time, I shall return to that topic.

Today, my topic is on what President Atta-Mills should present to the nation during his State of the Nation address that is planned for this Thursday in Parliament. This may be my last press conference on the Atta-Mills Administration for the year. After this, I want to mind my own business for a while.

Since the Atta-Mills Administration was sworn into office in January 2009, I have tried to be proactive and objective in my criticisms and have always offered solutions for consideration. It is with all due respect that I offer my suggestions of what should be included in the 2010 State of the Nation address.

As we all know, Candidate Atta-Mills became President following a campaign on a platform of change. He must return to the change agenda. So far, it has been business as usual. Nothing new or different that will transform our fortunes as a people has been pursued with a sense of urgency since January 2009. We have experienced conservative policies that are inconsistent with social democratic values. I am not saying that nothing has been achieved. But what I am suggesting today can promote the change agenda and signal the end of the beginning of transformational change in Ghana. The President has a choice. He can continue with business as usual policies, or consider Edwumawura’s suggestions for change.

The first place to start from in the State of the Nation address is Chapter Six of the 1992 Constitution: The Directive Principles of State Policy. The Directive Principles of State Policy together represent our collective broad national agenda which the Constitution says is the “...establishment of a just and free society.” If the President shapes his policies from these broad principles and observes the Constitution’s requirement for monitoring and evaluation, our nation will see significant growth and development.

Article 34 (2) of the Constitution directs that:

“The President shall report to Parliament at least once a year all the steps taken to ensure the realisation of the policy objectives contained in this Chapter; and, in particular, the realisation of basic human rights, a healthy economy, the right to work, the right to good health care and the right to education.”

In essence, this is what the State of the Nation address should be all about.

Furthermore, Article 36 (5) directs that:

“For the purposes of the foregoing clauses of this article, within two years after assuming office, the President shall present to Parliament a co-ordinated programme of economic and social development policies including agricultural and industrial programmes at all levels and in all the regions of Ghana.”

President Atta-Mills must not just go to Parliament this Thursday to present a litany of wishes that have been put together by the various Ministries, Department and Agencies. He must signal strongly, a departure from the past by starting from the base provided by the Constitution and telling the nation what he has done to meet the demands of the Constitution. If all of our Presidents account annually to Parliament and to the nation on how they are implementing the principles and also show how the co-ordinated progamme promotes these principles, there will be less anxiety than exists presently over the need for a national development agenda that transcends political parties. This way the accelerated development we all so desire will surely come.

In this regard, he must tell the nation how he has and will implement the following items outlined in the 1992 Constitution:

- Seek the well-being of all citizens; - Promote “...just and reasonable access by all citizens to public facilities and services in accordance with law”. - “...cultivate among all Ghanaians respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms and the dignity of the human persons. - Promote “...the integration of the peoples of Ghana....” and not the interest of members of one political party. - “...take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power”. - Ensure the practice of political tolerance. - Make “...democracy a reality by decentralizing the administrative and financial machinery of government to the regions and districts...” - Make reasonable attempts to achieve “...regional and gender balance in recruitment and appointments to public offices.” - Take steps to promote “...the development of agriculture and industry”. - Take steps to establish a sound and healthy economy.” - “Foster the development of Ghanaian languages and pride in Ghanaian culture.” - Preserve and protect “...historical interest and artifacts.”

These and others relating to health, education and employment among others are all to be found in Chapter Six of the 1992 Constitution. If we do not want to live by the prescriptions included in this chapter of the Constitution, we must change them. Until then, it is the duty of the President to abide by them and account to the people how he has performed in those areas in the State of the Nation Address.

We need to build this society by integrating or blending the well-intentioned ideas of the past with new ideas but propelled by leaders who can formulate simple, coherent, and inspiring development messages for the onward march towards realizing the Directive Principles of State Policy that we have had since 1992.

I now wish to turn to current matters that the President must address:

1. National Development Agenda: This is the time to find an alternative approach to reaching the destination of prosperity. So we should aim to do what we need to do differently as our methods so far have not worked. Our success should also be predicated on doing different things than we have done in the past. For all of us, what is needed is a new disciplined attitude, a new Ghanaian mentality of a proud, hard working people so that we can create the wealth that can be shared.

To achieve this, we need consensus on a National Development Agenda based on the foundation of the Directive Principles of State Policy. A consensus goal of becoming a middle income country is widely shared by Ghanaians. To achieve it within ten years means accelerating growth that is sustainable. It means increasing the economic growth rate from its 2009 level of around 5% to 7-10% and beyond in the medium to long term. We cannot do this with hoe and cutlass agriculture, an import and sell mentality or by being a raw material exporter. We need an alternative to all of this that will spell doing different things than we have done in the past. Ghana needs accelerated growth. However, the country cannot pursue accelerated growth without a strong and unshakable socio-economic foundation. This once again requires the building of consensus on the part of all stakeholders in our society. President Atta-Mills must tell the nation on Thursday how he is going to bring about this much needed consensus.

(The foundation should include infrastructure development, rural development, modernised agriculture, social services spread equitably, good governance and private sector development. On top of this foundation is rapid industrialization through agro-based industrial development, petrochemical industry and ICT. Two major points have been made over the years that suggest strong consensus in development planning in Ghana since 1951. The first has to do with modernisation of agriculture. “…the wealthier countries all have a much smaller proportion of their working people engaged in agriculture than the poorer countries” (Seven Year Development Plan). Productivity in agriculture also depends on the application of mechanization and specialization. Therefore, we must build consensus on the shifting of employment from agriculture. This requires targeting the modernization of agriculture as a pre-requisite. It means making this an objective every political administration must firmly incorporate in its detailed plans and annual budgets.)

2. The Economy: Since the global financial crisis started, many nations have been seriously at work to strengthen their competitive positions in the world and protect the prosperity of their citizens. Ghana cannot afford to be left out of this effort to strengthen local economies. We must also not allow ourselves to be fooled by the message coming out of the capitals of rich nations and from international finance institutions. They are protecting their insurance companies, farmers, automobile manufacturers, banks and markets. They are deciding who should run automobile companies in the United States of America, banks in the United Kingdom and insurance companies in Europe. The moral of this is we must stop listening to those who shout globalization and yet act locally to protect their own interests. This is the time to go national and protect the interest of the ordinary Ghanaian trader in the Tamale market, farmer in Juabeso, fisherman in Elmina, mechanic in Suame, spare parts dealer at Kantamanto and manufacturer in Tema. So on Thursday, President Atta-Mills must define the Ghanaian way and the direction he wants to take us on a positive road ahead. The President must tell us how intends to help Ghanaians to gain control over the domestic economy and adopt nationalistic policies in the management of the nation’s development agenda.

Since last year, I have called for a stimulus package from government to support our local economy. I am not giving up on advocating for support to the business community from our government. So today, I am asking the President on Thursday to direct the Minister of Finance & Economic Planning to work with the Bank of Ghana to make available a minimum of GHC250 million to be channelled through the rural banks, savings & loans companies and community banks to be given out in loans to micro-small-medium scale enterprises at subsidized rates not exceeding 15% for 3-5 years for agriculture, agro-processing and other production activities. Ask any entrepreneur, and he/she will promptly tell you his/her biggest problem is lack of capital to start, continue and expand. It is the lack of private sector capital that led the Italian government to fund ENI and the French government, Elf-Aquitaine both oil companies. National entities such as Volkswagen, Lufthansa and Renault became multi-national companies through government support. In the case of Korea, a country Ghanaians love to compare their nation to, it was a case of government providing the funds and technical assistance under the Heavy and Chemical Industries Initiative. Government officials made investment decisions and controlled credit. Goldstar, Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo all Korean brand names well-known in Ghana were nurtured and promoted with low-interest government loans, tax incentives and export/import facilities.

The question is where are the Ghanaian brand names? Also, how many people know that Ghana was ahead of Korea in its march towards industrialization in 1966? This was so because once upon a time, we had a state-driven industrialization policy similar to what has made Korea, Singapore, Malaysia to become more prosperous nations and their people better off than we are.

The Government of Ghana can no longer afford to mouth “the private sector is the engine of growth” and leave the situation to improve somehow. We need a deliberate, well-defined and broadly debated plan to fund business ideas of our local entrepreneurs.

The President must be bold, innovative and comprehensive in this area.

3. Oil & Gas: As we come close to the production of crude oil and gas from the Jubilee field, President Atta-Mills must tell us on Thursday, what his timetable for determining through legislation what we should expect with regard to petrochemicals industry, local content, benefit to the local communities in the production areas; and how we will avoid corruption in this new industry. The President must assure us that the review of the EO Group’s participation in the Jubilee Field transaction has nothing to do with politics. He must tell us how separating the EO Group from Kosmos in any investigation of potential wrong doing will promote Ghanaian participation in this lucrative industry.

4. Public Sector Reform: The need to strengthen state institutions and improve efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector is stronger now than ever with the advent of oil and gas. There is nothing I would love to hear more than a reversal by the President of his decision to downgrade public sector reform. The President must create a Ministry of Public Service to not only manage the reform agenda in the public services, but to also continuously seek improvement in the performance of the public services. The private sector needs it. The government itself needs it for a more rapid implementation of its policies and programmes. On Thursday, the President must also tell us why the Single Spine Salary Scheme seems to be in distress.

5. Public Transportation and Infrastructure: We need a considered declaration and firm commitment to build same-quality highways from north to south, east to west to open up the country to investment and development over the next five years. The President must also commit to develop modern light rail and cross country railroads to improve reliability and safety in the transportation of goods and people throughout the country.

6. National Identification System: The question is, what is President Atta-Mills’ understanding of what this transformative initiative is supposed to accomplish? As the prime mover of this initiative, the original idea was to bring discipline into Ghanaian society through the use of a unique form of identifying every man, woman, girl or boy. This well done, on a continuous basis, will support the building of credit databases to support the financial sector, criminal information systems to keep our people honest, prevent people from carrying duplicate passports, driving licenses etc. The system can also be used to bring added integrity into voters’ registration and through it enhance our democracy. The President must state what he will do to make the National Identification System useful enough to become the facilitator of change originally intended.

7. Implementation of New Pension Law: The new Pension Law is a huge opportunity to create wealth for future retirees. But it will have an even more significant impact on business enterprise development and growth as it should bring on stream long term funds. This is what the Ghanaian private sector has been waiting for all these years. President Atta-Mills must be very clear about what government will do to encourage participation in the 3rd tier of the Pension Scheme by workers in the public services including measures to be taken to ensure transparency in implementation. What government as the biggest employer in the country does will send positive or negative signals to the entire nation. In this first year of implementation, this is an opportune time for the President to influence the path to be taken.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These are the important matters of national interest that President John Evans Atta-Mills who promised us a “Better Ghana” and the change we need must address on Thursday to put the change agenda on track. A foundation has been provided by the 1992 Constitution. All he has to do is follow by giving concrete expression to the Directive Principles of State Policies through a consensus-driven national development agenda. Finally, I wish once again to ask the President with all due respect to act with a sense of urgency.

Thank you for your attention.

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