President Akufo-Addo has stated sarcastically that he will prefer drones flying essential medical supplies to guinea fowls flying off to Burkina Faso.
He said the $12 million drone delivery project which has sparked heated political debate is not being run on public budget as being speculated by some critics, explaining that the cost is being borne by some corporate bodies through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and not the taxpayer.
“I prefer drones flying to deliver essential medicines to our people to an investment in guinea fowls that allegedly fly off to Burkina Faso without any trace,” President Akufo-Addo said during his encounter with journalists in Accra yesterday.
“This programme is not going to be run on the public budget. Corporate Social Responsibility contributions from private sector players will pay for the service.”
He said “we are also in the process of launching the world’s largest and most advanced medical drone delivery network. The four distribution centres, from where the drones will be operating, will stock 148 lifesaving and essential medical supplies and not only blood,” he said.
The drone project forms part of government initiatives to ensure Ghana attains Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through strengthening health systems, increasing healthcare personnel and using innovation to reach those in remote areas.
President Akufo-Addo said that the operations of the NHIS have been revived after government paid up the GH¢1.2 billion arrears it inherited from the previous Mahama administration.
The President continued, “The drone delivery service will save lives, decrease wastage in the system, guarantee healthcare access for more than 14 million people nationwide and employ over 200 Ghanaians.”
President Akufo-Addo added further that “the procurement process will enable every constituency to get one ambulance each in the early part of next year. This will not solve the ambulance problem immediately, but it certainly shows more commitment to finding a solution than we have ever seen.”
To address the issues of insufficient numbers of classrooms, desks, laboratories, computers and dormitories, the President said that with ingenuity and innovation, government has, through the Ghana Education Trust Fund, secured a $1.5 billion facility to help develop infrastructure in schools.
“Parliamentary approval has been obtained, and the first tranche of this facility will be used to build more classroom blocks and dormitories in our schools to give our schools appropriate facilities to meet the demands of the 21st century,” he said.
The president continued, “And so we are on double track, and we are building the classrooms and laboratories, and gradually turning the once deprived schools into well-equipped ones. We find that paying attention to the proper management of schools means we are getting better results.”
He reiterated that the Ghanaian child cannot wait for first-class education facilities before receiving secondary school education.
President Akufo-Addo also stated that it’s certainly positive for global giants like Volkswagen, Nissan and Sinotruck to offer to do business in Ghana by building assembly plants in the country about the same time.
“Systematically, we are also rolling out our One District, One Factory policy of industrialisation. Thus far, 79 projects have been implemented under 1D1F, with another 35 going through credit appraisal by officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the financial institutions that are supporting the programme,” he said.
Under the Stimulus Package, President Akufo-Addo indicated that $237 million has been disbursed to 16 companies, with an additional 35 being considered for support.
“The process of industrialization will be accelerated in the course of 2019,” the President declared.
The President stated emphatically that the ban on illegal mining, known in local parlance as ‘galamsey,’ has not been lifted and the government does not intend to do so.
He said his administration rather lifted the ban on legitimate small-scale mining, which he said was never intended to be permanent.
“It was to enable government fashion a policy that would sanitise the sector, and ensure that in future, small-scale mining, which has been with us for centuries, would not damage our environment. The measures announced last Friday do exactly that,” the President said.
“I cannot, and will not, give up on the fight to protect our environment. I entreat the media and all well-intentioned Ghanaians to continue to join the fight to protect our lands and water bodies.”
President Akufo-Addo said, “I notice that there is room for constituency priority infrastructure needs, under which the constituencies pick what they identify as their priority need. I believe there is a lesson in there for all of us by simply taking a look at the diversity of priority needs: community centres, police posts, street lights, culverts etc.”
Abundance Of Food
Touching on agriculture, the President said that for the first time in many years, there is an abundance of food on the market, coupled with low prices of foodstuffs and in some cases there is a glut.
“We are currently exporting plantain to some of our neighbours. Quite a turnaround from when I was lamenting two years ago that we were importing plantains from Cote d’Ivoire. We also did not import a single grain of maize this year,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo pointed out that “if you invest in agriculture, you get results. Planting for Food and Job is working, and I look forward to rice joining the list of foodstuffs we are no longer importing.”
He said radical measures are being taken to establish a solid infrastructure for agriculture, with the imminent availability of significant numbers of tractors and enhancement of Agricultural Mechanisation Centres, the construction of 80 warehouses this year for the storage of surplus food, revival of the National Food and Buffer Stock Company and recent establishment of the Commodities Exchange.
All these, he said, are being done to modernize and transform Ghana’s agriculture to serve as a major growth pole for the economy.
Despite the dramatic decline in the world market prices for cocoa, President Akufo-Addo indicated that government maintained the producer price paid to farmers as a sign of commitment to them.
“We are on course to realizing the 1 million tonne mark for our cocoa production, and seeing to the increasing domestic processing of the product. Our alliance with Cote d’Ivoire, to change the dynamics of the global cocoa industry, is also on course to enable us, the producers, obtain an increasing share of the industry’s value chain. It’s good news for our farmers,” he added.
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