Ladies and gentlemen, we meet with you this morning to present our reaction to the varied issues of governance raised by the President last Monday when he met editors at the Castle.
Ladies and gentlemen, the NDC government and governance style of President Mills has been variously described as slow. Ex-President Rawlings, the founder of the NDC, had lamented that the President Mills government was not only slow, but moving in the wrong direction. President Mills himself had admitted his government may be slow, but sure.
In December 2010, President Mills, on his own volition, declared his government was going to turn a new leaf in 2011, his third year in office. That Ghanaians were going to see a new zeal in government. That 2011 was going to be in his own words, “an Action Year”.
Daily Graphic report of December 3, 2010 had the banner headline, “2009….on our marks, 2010, get set…, 2011 Action.
Last Monday, he insisted that indeed, 2011 has been an Action Year. The landmarks he mentioned of his action year included the building of schools, provision of potable water, electricity, single digit inflation, lowering of lending rates and highest GDP growth rate.
ACTION YEAR RESPONSE
SCHOOLS, WATER & ELECTRICITY
Ladies and gentlemen, we need to point out that all governments in this country, including the colonial administrations have always built schools, and provided water and electricity. On electricity, the President boasted that his government has done better than the NPP government. Of course we can’t verify, but he forgets to mention he came to meet $350m loan secured by the NPP from the USA Exim bank to extend electricity to 2000 communities.
These functions have been before and would continue long after President Mills. Indeed just yesterday, NDC executives & supporters in Kintampo North were on the media threatening the NDC over the lack of electricity in Kintampo.
SINGLE DIGIT INFLATION
Single digit inflation is fine. The reduction has been from 18% in 2008 to 8% today, a reduction of 10% POINTS. The NPP government reduced inflation in its first three years (2001 – 2003) from 40.5% to 23%, a reduction of 17%. But a more important question ladies and gentlemen, is what is the impact of single digit inflation on the actual cost of living, i.e. the actual % rise in prices, which reflects in the pockets of Ghanaians.
Over the 3 years of NDC government, price of any item you can think of has risen by between 50% to over 300%.
A few examples would illustrate:
Pure Water 3p (¢300) 10p (¢100) over 300%
Secondary School fees GH¢120 (¢1.2m) GH¢273(¢2.73m) over 100%
(Abuakwa State College, Kyebi)
Electricity GH¢10 (¢100,000) GH¢25 (¢250,000) 150%
(Compound Hse. Bshie)
Water (Polytank) (Adenta) GH¢12 (¢120,000) GH¢40 (¢400,000) over 200%
Trotro (Bubiiashie – K’shie) GH¢15p (¢1,500) 40p (¢4,000) over 150%
Trotro (Bubiiashie – Circle) 30p (¢3,000) 50p (¢5,000) over 50%
1 kg Bread GH¢1(¢10,000) GH¢2 (¢20,000) 100%
Gari Olonka GH¢1(¢10,000) GH¢2.50 (¢25,000) 150%
Maize (Bag) GH¢20 (¢200,000) GH¢120 (¢1.2m) 500%
Ideal Milk 60p (¢6000) GH¢1.20p (¢12,000) 100%
Petrol Gallon GH¢3.80p (¢38,000) GH¢7.80p (¢78,000) over 100%
Accra – Kumasi GH¢8 (¢80,000) GH¢22 (¢220,000) over 150%
Ball of Kenkey 20p (¢2000) 50p (¢5000) 150%
Road Tolls 5p (¢500) 50p (¢5000) 900%
University Rent GH¢200 (¢2m) GH¢400 (¢4m) 100%
Rent (single room GH¢10 (¢100,000) GH¢40 (¢400,000) over 300%
Rent (Chamber & Hall) GH¢20 (¢200,000) GH¢80 (¢800,000) over 300%
One could go on and on.
Ladies and gentlemen, interest rates (or lending rates) have not gone down and are still about 25%.
Growth rate for 2011 is indeed projected to be about 13%. This growth rate has been fuelled by the production of crude oil (discovered during Kufuor’s government in 2007). When disaggregated, and the impact of oil export taken out, the growth rate is only 7.6% (2011 budget, paragraph ***), which is still below the 8.4% achieved in 2008.
It is also of interest to compare the non-oil economic growth rate of the 8 years NDC (1993 – 2000) and 8 year NPP (2001 – 2008). From 1993 – 2000, the growth rate shrank from 5% in 1993 to 3.7% in 2000. The size of the economy also shrank from $5 billion in 1993 to $4 billion in 2000. Over the same 8 year period of non-oil economy, 2001 – 2008, the growth rate increased from 3.7% to 8.4%, while the GDP increased from $4 billion to $16.3 billion (old series).
The President failed to talk about the instability of the cedi. Between 2001 and 2008, the cedi moved from 72p (¢7,200) to GH¢1.12p (¢11,200), a depreciation of about 58% over eight years. Between 2009 and today, the cedis has moved from GH¢1.12p (¢11,200) to GH¢1.70p (¢17,000) a depreciation of 54% over just a three-year period!
Still on the Action Year, after the President’s declaration, (2nd December, 2010) his spokesman revealed to the nation the benchmarks of the 2011 Action Year. He mentioned action on the University at Sunyani, the University at Ho, the Kotokuraba market at Cape Coast, Cape Coast Stadium, the STX housing, Eastern Corridor roads to connect Tema to the Northern region through the Volta region.
Indeed, the very next two months – January & February, 2011 the President promptly cut sods for the new Universities at Ho and Sunyani, sods for the Eastern Corridor roads, and the STX housing project. For the University at Ho the spokesman assured admissions would start in September, 2011.
Ladies and gentlemen, after the rapid sod cutting, it took government 10 months (Oct. 2011) to bring the two bills to Parliament to give legal backing to the Universities. Meanwhile, the sites where the sods were cut had grown into forest. (According to a prominent Chief in the Volta region, you needed Wellington boots to visit the sites to be protected from wild reptiles).
Last Monday, a year after the sod cutting, the President claimed work has since started on the new university at Ho. It turns out some existing buildings meant for the Nursing Training School built under the NPP administration have been allocated and relabeled as University buildings. The new University for the Volta region is turning out to be an “Oburoni Wawu” university. As for the Sunyani one, the President dodged it!
The President claimed the STX housing, for which he had cut the sod in January, 2010, one year ago, has not come on due to “boardroom wrangling” among the STX directors. Ladies and gentlemen, the STX fiasco is simply because the partners have not been able to raise the money despite all the guarantees given them by government.
The questions that were raised by the NPP, and civil society organizations were ignored by the President and his government.
Questions like why government was guaranteeing loans for a contractor who was going to sell the houses to government: why GREDA’s written proposal to build the houses at less than half the cost of STX was ignored: why the cost of the buildings were ($12,500 for one bedroom, $32,000 for two bedroom, and $45,000 for three bedrooms), when the Minister for Works and Housing had Commissioned a private development – Goodwill Estates at $18,000 for 2 bedroom and $37,000 for 3 bedroom, without any government support? No wonder the Korean partners in STX have demanded $17m payoff or they would reveal where the “kick backs” were paid! (Daily guide report).
Just yesterday, there were claims and counter claims on live radio (Adom FM) between NDC supporters about whether what the President said about the Eastern Corridor was true or not. Ladies and gentlemen, when a landmark project is going on, there can be no dispute about it. Let’s look at the NPP landmark projects of the Tetteh Quarshie – Mallam Junction Road, or the Bui dam. If it had to take questions from senior media people, for claims to be made by the President, then there is a game of “hide and seek” or as the Gas say “Kwani Kwani”.
GENERAL ON ACTION YEAR
Ladies and gentlemen, as a general reflection of the Action Year, let’s consider the two biggest infrastructural projects ongoing in this country at this period – the Tetteh Quarshie-Mallam motorway ($110 million) and the Bui Dam ($800 million). Question is why are we not seeing the impact of the over $5 billion of loans disbursed since 2009, and the over $600m in crude oil export receipts?
Indeed, what the average Ghanaian remembers of Action Year 2011 are the terrible gas shortages, the debilitating doctor’s strike (with even the sector Minister going on leave in the middle of the strike). Ghana moving down the corruption index from 62nd to 69th, the longest travel time abroad by any President since the 4th republic, the $20m NDC headquarters, and the terribly botched SSS admissions, the tragic Accra floods, unemployment demonstrations and the mother of all scandals – the Woyome Gate!
No wonder Ex-President Rawlings in 2011 has described President Mills’ government as “stagnant”.
It is strange that after this stagnation, the government has described 2012 – his last year in office as a “year of hope”
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Woyome, a self-confessed NDC financier sued the government for services he claimed to have rendered for government in 2005/6. Without any investigation, or any evidence, President Mills’ government, according to the Auditor-General’s 2010 report before Parliament, paid Mr. Woyome, a whopping GH¢58 million (¢580 billion). Indications are that in 2011, a further GH¢34 million (¢340 billion) has been paid to Mr. Woyome (GH¢10m in January 2011, GH¢10m in April 2011, and GH14 million in September 2011), bringing total payment to Mr. Woyome to GH¢92.8 (or ¢928 billion). Does the Ghc90million ring a bell?
The President gave the impression he did not authorize the payment, that his permission was not needed for the payments, and that the payments were ordered by the courts.
PRESIDENT DIDN’T KNOW?
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a truly terrible reflection on our governance today if such huge payments can be made on the blind side of the President of the republic. But ladies and gentlemen, the letters from the Attorney General to the finance Minister, and vice versa, were all copied to the Office of the President!
The Court judgments were not given on the merits of the case. The first judgment (24th May, 2010) was a default judgment, i.e. based on the story and claims of one side (Mr. Woyome’s) because the other side (the government’s) did not put up any defense!
The second Court judgment (6th September, 2010) was an endorsement of a settlement which Mr. Woyome and the government themselves had presented to the court.
The president has ordered EOCO to investigate to find out who caused the liability of the State to Mr. Woyome. The question is should not EOCO have investigated before the huge payout to Mr. Woyome? As the President is asking EOCO to investigate liability, his Attorney-General is in Court praying that there is no liability of the State to Mr. Woyome and that the payments are a mistake.
It is clear the government is confused and facing opposite directions in this matter.
Let us remember that under Professor Mills watch as Vice President and head of Economic Management Team, over $20million was paid out to Miss Juliet Cotton in 1999, for which the woman was jailed by the U.S government and some ex ministers also were convicted by the Ghanaian Courts.
Today under his watch as President, he has again supervised the huge pay out of tax payers monies to a self confessed NDC financier! No doubt ex President Rawlings the founder of the NDC, has described President Mills government as weak and very corrupt government.
The President talked about payments of the judgment debts. Ladies and gentlemen, these debts have spanned the period from PNDC/NDC I, such as payment to ex GIHOC workers, the Carmichael compensation, Alhaji Yusif Ibrahim (hotel demolition). International Tobacco, the E.K. Owusu compensation, Rockshell International, some of these debts originated from even the Nkrumah period.
We support an investigation of liability in all judgment debts and payments. But the Woyome payment is still potentially the biggest scandal in this 4th republic, as in this case, the Attorney-General says there is no liability.
The President bemoaned insults in our political discourse, and said he had forgiven the Minority Leader for allegedly using insulting language on him.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Minority Leader has not verbally insulted the President in any way. We would be grateful if the President would be specific on the verbal insults at him by the Minority Leader. We share the President’s concern on the use of insults in our political discourse. But we urge the President that “Charity begins at home”.
We have all been witnesses to gratuitous insults hurled by even Ministers of State at political opponents.
The entire inhabitants of Kumasi were described as uncivilized, and needing to broaden their horizons.
The NPP Flagbearer is denigrated with gratuitous insults on a daily basis, especially from newspapers sympathetic to the NDC, one of whom actually accused the Minority Leader of insulting the President.
Ministers, NDC functionaries have extended insults to the press, civil society organizations, and civil and public servants, nurses, doctors, the judiciary and even the clergy.
It seems that insults are a deliberate strategy of the NDC.
And we do not hear any protest or see any action from the President. What we hear are sanctimonious sound bites.
The President seemed exasperated by the question about his health and quipped that some people (obviously political opponents) may not want him alive.
Ladies and gentlemen, concern about the President’s health have been raised by NDC stalwarts themselves.
We all remember it was a big issue during the NDC Presidential Primaries in 2006. We all remember two NDC stalwarts going on about even the mental state of the president on live radio in June 2010. We all remember the comments of the then National Youth Council Boss before his removal. We remember the explanations from a Deputy Information Minister about the President’s darkened palms.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the face of these public pronouncements, from even NDC gurus, the Ghanaian tax payer need to be told the truth about the health of the President, so that sympathy, not speculation, is offered.
Ladies and gentlemen, we would conclude on the Woyome issue. We call on the President to support a broad based public investigation that will expose the truth and not the narrow fiat given to EOCO.
The call for EOCO to investigate had been made by Mr. Woyome himself. It was supported by a gentleman – Mr. Brantuo, who works at the Office of the President and who presented himself as a spokesman for Mr. Woyome and the President has supported that call.
It has become a case of the Executive asking an organ of the Executive to investigate such huge financial pay out by the Executive. Even before EOCO could get to work, we hear the government putting out that the Auditor-General’s report to Parliament of the June 4, 2010 payout of GH¢41.8 (¢418 billion) to Mr. Woyome is wrong.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Auditor-General’s report of this payout is not a calculus where wrong calculation may be made. It is not an accounting entry where an item may be wrongly placed.
It is record of payment originating from the Ministry of Finance, certified and implemented by the Controller and Accountant-General. So who is wrong here, – the Finance Ministry or the CAGD or the AG?
Obviously the cover-up has began.
Just this morning, the AG himself has told us of ‘cowardly, malicious, libelous’ attacks being orchestrated against his person.
He said these attacks are being ‘orchestrated by a colleague minister who sees him as a threat to concealment of gargantuan crimes. These attacks are being orchestrated through ‘gullible, rented and criminal NDC press’.
The Nation deserves better in this matter.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen.