General News Wed, 1 Jan 2003

President Kufuor's New Year Speech

Below is the full text of the President's New Year speech -

Fellow Ghanaians, today is New Year's Day. We must all thank God for the many blessings of the past year. Let us also pray and be hopeful for even more blessings for a happy and prosperous New Year. A new beginning always brings fresh hope, and this is a good time for all Ghanaians to resolve anew to make this country the vibrant and prosperous place it should be. Two years ago, the people entrusted me with the governance of the country. They wanted an improvement in the quality of life, and they demanded a positive change in the way things were done. For the past two years, there has not been a single day that I have lost sight of this responsibility, and the fact that the hopes and aspirations of the people rest on me and my government.

Everything government has done, every step government has taken, has been informed by a clear appreciation of this charge. The enormity of the problems entailed, however, has meant that government has had no choice but to take some very difficult but unavoidable decisions. These decisions have been taken, not just to correct previous mistakes, but also to initiate policies and put in place the requisite institutional framework, without which the country will be doomed to the stop-go superficial measures that have characterized much of the administration of the country since independence.

There are still a few of such difficult decisions left to take. This year, especially in the first quarter, the nation will have to leap over a big hurdle, perhaps the last remaining big hurdle, to put the economy firmly on the path of real growth, and thereby effectively combat the sapping poverty that bedevils the people. The messy petroleum situation, the challenges of inadequate revenue mobilization, and the shortcomings of the public sector which have rendered it incapable of absorbing and utilizing resources as efficiently and quickly as required have been the bane of all, otherwise serious attempts, at streamlining the economy by governments since independence.

Government has critically analyzed these problems and it is convinced that with the co-operation and active goodwill of the people, the nation can overcome these problems and successfully go through this difficult, but necessary period.

To us, the most important consideration in any policy initiative has always been its effect on the people. In other words, the ability of the people to take such measures in their stride and the resultant improvement in their well-being are always paramount.

I want to assure you that this government has no ideological or egotistical hang-ups. Indeed, nothing will be done that will increase the suffering of the people simply to satisfy such considerations. Government is convinced that these measures will yield the expected dividends and help accelerate the economic take-off.

The vigorous efforts at developing the infrastructure will continue at a quickened pace. The health insurance scheme will be extended to cover the entire country. The roads, schools, and communications will all be improved upon. The modernization of agriculture will receive a boost to help the rural areas get a fresh lease of life. All these will enhance the employment prospects of the youth.

Fellow Ghanaians, there are a lot of anxieties in the world today as terrorism and violent upheavals rage in many parts of the world. The economies of even the advanced and powerful nations are coming under heavy stress. The consequences for small nations like Ghana during such turbulence are grave. Our sub-region in particular, is still unstable and going through extremely trying times in many parts. Your government is doing all it can to help stabilize the sub-region and restore peace.

As the year ended, however, Africa had some good reason to be proud and not to give up hope. Across the continent from us in Ghana, Kenyans demonstrated political maturity and conducted successful democratic elections leading to a constitutional change of government. I am sure you all join me in congratulating them. The events in Kenya are reminiscent of our own happy experience in Ghana two years ago when we had a peaceful constitutional change of government.

Fellow Ghanaians, one thing is certain; Ghana is destined to be a pace setter on the continent as the democratic process takes root. But even as Africa makes strides with constitutional rule, many nations on the continent, including Ghana, are still beset with huge economic and social problems. This is why half way through the mandate you have given me, I urge you to continue to give your government the support and the encouragement needed to see the task through.

My faith in Ghana and the ability of Ghanaians remain solid and unshaken. We have the determination, the courage and the goodwill to make this country a fitting place for us all and for future generations. Our future is bright. Let us all hold together and push forward. This year will surely be a good one for our nation and Ghana shall succeed.

I wish you all a peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year.

Thank you and may God Bless Us All.