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Politics of Monday, 5 September 2011

Source: Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto

Highlights Of Speech Delivered By Nana Addo

Highlights Of Speech Delivered By Nana Addo At The First Liberty Lecture

Below... my highlights of Nana's speech, 30 pages condensed into 3 pages. If 30 people were to individually highlight and condense what they thought as most important to them in the speech, we 'd get 30 different results. Thus every aspect of the speech is important. How ever these are my highlights.

STATE OF THE ECONOMY.
Today, there appears to be a mad rush for billions of dollars of loans, and we mention billions as if we are still in the era of the old billion Cedis. Perhaps, we need to remind the current custodians of the national purse that somewhere in between their time in opposition four zeros were knocked off the local currency..... At the end of 2008, Ghana’s domestic debt stood at GH¢4.8 billion. According to the Bank of Ghana, at the end of June 2011, Ghana’s total domestic debt was GH¢10.8 billion....

This NDC government has had plenty of resources at its disposal because of the expanded economy it inherited, record cocoa and gold prices on the world market, together with revenues from this newfound wealth, oil........To borrow a famous phrase: Na Sika No Wo He? What has been the impact of these massive resources on the lives of the people? Where are the projects?

We must welcome the readiness of the world’s fastest growing large economy to provide Ghana with the needed credit to accelerate our development.......But, since it is a......it is the duty of our government to get the best deal for Ghana. This does not appear to be the case in this $3 billion facility...... plus $450 million (or 15%) counter-funding from Government. The agreement obliges us to pay immediately before any disbursement is made, a $30 million Commitment Fee, a $7.5 million Upfront Fee, and a $101,400,000 interest rate per annum.

Why are we not considering the option of leveraging some of these resources to ensure private sector participation and thereby reducing Government of Ghana exposure? With interest rates at an all-time low, what has stopped Government from issuing a sovereign bond on the international money market to raise money for some of these projects?

VISION ON ECONOMY & EDA
I am proposing the establishment of the Economic Development Authority. The EDA's mission will be to create for Ghana, sustainable economic growth with vibrant businesses and good job opportunities. The Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Minerals Commission, Free zones Board, Ghana Export Promotion Council, and Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) will all need to be merged into the EDA. The EDA will develop a Local Content Policy to facilitate the greater participation of Ghanaians in the general scope of the economy.

It is disconcerting when you find out that our own Government does not believe in Ghanaians. A recent example had to do with the Government contracting a South Korean firm, STX, to build 200,000 houses in Ghana at the cost of $10 billion....... Notwithstanding representations and protests from the local Ghana real estate industry, GREDA, as well as the opposition NPP, civil society groups and many well-meaning Ghanaians, Government went ahead to contract this Korean firm to build houses in Ghana with the inducement of all sorts of incentives that we do not provide to the local real estate industry in Ghana.

For the real estate industry for example, my government will offer to them many of the same incentives that this NDC government has offered to the Korean STX.. .......We will support local industries through a conducive and enabling business environment to grow and move away from being mere raw material producers....
Ghana should be at the forefront of the industrialization of West Africa. .....We will add value to our bauxite by building an Integrated Aluminum Industry and export manufactured aluminum products as was envisaged by the Kufuor government......

ON TRANSFORMING ECONOMY WITH OIL
During the last 8 years under an NPP government, thanks to the focused leadership of J. A. Kufuor, Ghana eventually discovered oil in commercial quantities in 2007. We have two options now: one, to treat the oil like we have done to gold and allow it to be exported in its raw material form as crude or; two, use this as a perfect opportunity to transform the structure of our economy through industrialization and value-added commercial activities......... I believe we should use our oil revenues to create assets, not waste it in consumption and accumulate debt.

We are determined to build a petrochemical industry here in Ghana, We intend to convert our petrochemicals into hundreds of industrial and consumer products produced right here in Ghana, including plastics, paints, rubber, fertilizers, detergents, dyes, textiles, solvents and, hopefully, bitumen for road construction. .......From the petroleum we can get the preservatives to can food produced in Ghana, we can get plastics in which to preserve the processed food........ The synthetic by-product from petroleum can serve as raw material for the manufacturing of different types of garments and footwear.

We will facilitate the setting up of a multi-billion dollar gas feedstock industrial estate in the Nzema area producing methanol, ammonia, urea and natural gas liquids, which hopefully will feed from the oil and gas industry in both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire

ON EDUCATION
What the evidence from history and the experience of many countries have shown is that it is not natural resources that build nations. It is people who build nations. It is not gold that is going to build Ghana. If it was, it would have done so already. It is not cocoa that is going to build Ghana, if it was, it would have done so already. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is not oil that is going to build Ghana. If it was, Nigeria for example, would have been one of the most developed countries on earth. It is the people of Ghana, Ghanaians like you and I, and especially the youth of today, who are going to build Ghana.

......let us all take one deep breath and ask ourselves the question: “Where are we heading?” What chance do we have as a nation in this competitive 21st century when we churn out such appalling statistics showing the utter waste of our human resource base.

.......that is why I have repeatedly pledged to make education the foundational issue of the next NPP government...

I have heard the criticism that political parties are playing a political game with education by constantly changing the education policy...........I think it is worth pointing out that on our part, the NPP has refrained from any ideological battles on the educational field.

Right at the outset, let us stress two things: First, the next NPP administration will NOT, repeat, NOT seek to change the current JSS-SSS format for at least 4 yrs.

I am committed to making post-JSS education free and making the secondary school level the first point of exit, both within the four years of an Akufo-Addo presidency. People have already begun to murmur that this cannot be done; that this “promise” will come to haunt the NPP. The leadership of our party is in total agreement that being haunted by this promise is preferable to being haunted by the spectre of several hundred thousands of Ghanaian youth thrown onto a job market with only the skills that a primary education imparts. The cost will be high but the cost of not doing so would be even higher.

In addition, we would make sure all major secondary and tertiary institutions have free access to wireless internet, not because it is in the interest of the students and teachers, but it is in our collective national interest. The knowledge available on the internet today surpasses what is contained in all our libraries put together and denying our students and teachers this information would put Ghana at a competitive disadvantage in this global economy.

ON EMPLOYMENT
An NPP administration is, of course, committed to creating the conditions that will allow the private sector to flourish.....But it recognizes also that Government has a duty, certainly in the short-term, to contribute to the creation of employment opportunities but with a central role to be played by private sector employers.

............self-employment will be promoted with support mechanisms such as credit, management training, and preferences in public procurement to give hope to the hordes of street peddlers in Accra, of kiosk owners, and of lotto and telephone card roadside entrepreneurs.

Education and Skills training is probably the most important source of empowering Ghanaians. The NPP will be guided by a new model of development with the following underlying principles that the market economy is the single optimal method of creating wealth.........but the state must provide a safety net for the losers.

Development must be private-sector-led and the state should focus on long-term economic growth which means, in our view, expenditure by the state on health, education, infrastructure and human capital formation.

ON MONEY/FISCAL
However, the transformation of Ghana will not be possible without economic and financial systems that channel capital to businesses, credit and insurance services for low income individuals, smallholder farms, and micro enterprises.

Under J. A. Kufuor, we took deliberate actions that led to an expansion of total credit to the private sector from 12.5% of GDP in 2000 to 28.4% of GDP in 2007. Over the last two years, the private sector has witnessed declines in credit from the banks.........

We will in this regard revive the NPP policy to make Ghana an international financial service centre to attract more investment and savings to help expand the capacity of our banks to borrow.

ON AGRICULTURE
......We have been slow in applying everywhere some of the chemical and biological enhancements that have helped increase cocoa yields three-fold in ten years........ Especially in the Northern Savannah belt, which has enormous potential, we must bring to bear the results of local research and of technological innovation in places like Brazil. In the latter case, we know that the Savannah lands, which had lain uncultivated for years because of low yields, were treated with heavy doses of potash over a period of time. Now Brazil has become a powerhouse of agricultural production. We can do the same in Ghana......

For this reason, the Northern Savannah Ecological Belt, stretching from the Upper East through the Northern Region to the Upper West.....will benefit from a diversification of the agricultural base.
When I outlined this dream during the campaign for election 2008, I was laughed at and the current government described my ideas as “pipe dreams”.

I outlined my plans to actualize this dream and named the implementing agency The Northern Development Authority (NDA). The idea has been taken by NDC and renamed SADA – the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority. Sadly, the current NDC government has been unable to effectively implement it and fallen woefully short in the resources being committed to the project. The modernization and transformation of the North is an important vision of mine. Insha Allah, it shall come to pass.

WOMEN
we need to widen life’s opportunities for the over 50% of our population. I am in favor of affirmative action. With that I mean one that rewards companies and organizations that pursue a deliberate policy to promote gender equality.

CONCLUSION
This is change and transformation that we can believe in and make together.
We can build a society of aspirations and opportunities in Ghana and put our nation on the path of prosperity.
I urge you to believe in yourself, in your future, and in Ghana. I believe in Ghana and so must you.
Let us work together for that brighter future. Join me. We can get it done... together.

Thank you.
Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto