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General News Wed, 29 Oct 2008

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Debate

Skill training means to provide jobs - Mills
Akufo-Addo to build upon foundation by Kufuor
Mahama blames mob justice
Nduom gives condition for production of oil
Accra, Oct. 29, GNA - Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), on Wednesday said he would equip the youth with employable skills to enable them to find jobs when elected President of Ghana.

He said many of the youth were finding it difficult to get jobs after school because they did not possess the requisite skills that would enable them to get employment.

Prof Mills was answering a question on how his administration would create job opportunities for the unemployed at a presidential debate organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs in Accra.

The debate brought together the candidates of the four political parties with representation in Parliament to address issues of common concerns including job creation; the management of anticipated oil revenue; women's and children's rights; provision of adequate electricity and the fast-tracking the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocols.

Prof Mills said his administration would accelerate growth in the agriculture sector to generate employment for the people. He said the fact that 60 per cent of the population was engaged in the sector made it imperative for any government to address the needs of the sector.

In this direction, an NDC Government would implement policies such as the provision subsidies; reduction of post-harvest losses and the institution of a buffer stock management system as a means of providing ready market for produce and thereby encourage farmers to produce more and entice others to the sector.

There would also be linkages between agricultural production and industry to allow for the processing of the produce. Prof Mills identified the major challenges facing the country's industries to include high cost of production; low skill levels in the workforce and the dumping of cheap and inferior goods Ghanaian markets and said these would be addressed to enable the private sector to create jobs and employment.

Touching on the oil discovery, he said, it was necessary that the country learnt from the experiences of other countries where instead of being a blessing to the economy, oil had turned to engender violent conflicts.

Prof Mills said his administration would ensure that the country received a fair share of the oil revenue and pledged to make provision for the present and future generations through the use of part of the monies to shore up the economy.


In this connection, he said, an independent authority, a body that would monitor the operations in the oil sector would be established to keep Ghanaians abreast of the operations of the industry. On Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Prof Mills said such investments must not be at the expense of local initiatives to grow the economy, saying that they were welcomed as long as it would help to supplement efforts of local entrepreneurs.

Prof Mills said the NDC Government would put into operation the Osagyefo Electricity Generating Barge, build minor hydroelectric dams on Pra and Ankobra Rivers and exploit wind and solar energy to augment the present electricity generating capacity of the country. He said he would work to gain the confidence of Presidents of neighbouring countries in order to facilitate the integration of West African States.

His Eminence, Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson, Chairman of the IEA Presidential Debates Committee, said democracy was truly exercised when the electorate was knowledgeable and informed about the options before it.

The IEA, he said, had initiated the process to enable aspirants to debate on common issues of concern to all Ghanaians and to answer questions from the electorate.

Akufo-Addo to build upon foundation laid by President Kufuor

Accra, Oct. 29, GNA - Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Presidential Candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Wednesday pledged his commitment to build upon the economic foundation laid by President John Agyekum Kufuor over the past eight years.

He said: "The party inherited a battered economy in 2001, but through the prudent management of the economy by the NPP Government under President Kufuor, Ghana's economy is now on a solid foundation." Nana Akufo-Addo was answering questions at the first of two Presidential Debates organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra.

The debate was among the Presidential candidates of parties with representation in Parliament- NPP; National Democratic Congress (NDC); People's National Convention (PNC) and Convention People's Party (CPP). The questions focused mainly on the economy; social; security; pension schemes; the oil industry; infrastructure development; education and job creation.

The NPP Presidential Candidate used the platform to defend the eight year rule of the Party and spelt out his blueprint to move the nation forward as contained in the Party's 2008 Manifesto; "Moving Ghana Forward: Building A Modern Ghana."

He said President Kufour's Government had brought back the dignity of the Presidency and made Ghana an internationally recognised good-governance regime, which has enlarged the freedoms of the individual citizen, and institutions.

On promoting gender equality, the NPP Presidential Candidate said his administration would drastically reduce maternal and infant mortality by improving quality of and access to ante-and post natal care; address the issue of child mortality, morbidity and malnutrition. He would ensure that social security arrangements were set up in the formal and informal sectors in the rural and urban areas to cover all workingwomen and men.

Nana Akufo-Addo said he would introduce micro-financing schemes to help to improve the economic position of women, continue with the free maternal health care, and create enabling environment for accelerated growth.

He said the discovery of oil and gas in Ghana was the result of prudent management of the economy, "my administration will implement national oil policy with the aim of maximising benefits to the local people in the Western Region.

"Institute measures for transparent management of oil revenue, use oil as an instrument of national development through specific identified projects and develop liquefied natural gas as a complement to government's efforts in the West African Gas Pipeline Project." On national security, Nana Akufo-Addo said his Government would establish relationship with international community to combat crime and increase the manpower capacity of the Police Service.

He also responded to questions on NPP's policy on education; health; infrastructure development; bilateral trade; foreign direct investment; energy, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and relationship with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Mrs Jean Mensa, IEA Administrator, said the debate provided the four leading Presidential candidates an opportunity to dialogue and discuss their vision, policies and programmes on the same platform. Meanwhile organisers of the programme seemed not to appreciate that journalists relied to a large extent on the body language of newsmakers in crafting their stories, and consigned them to an adjacent room with a projector television screen, and thus compelling them to pick the news from the perspective of a cameraman.

Mahama blames mob justice on failure of criminal justice system

Accra, Oct. 30 GNA - Dr Edward Mahama, Presidential Candidate of People's National Convention (PNC), on Wednesday said he would ensure justice for all under his presidency, blaming the lynching of suspects on the failure of the criminal justice system. He pledged that under his presidency justice to all would be a cardinal principle.

Dr Mahama made the remark in answer to a question about national security, law and order during the first round of two scheduled presidential debates organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The debates featured the four Presidential Candidates of parties with representation in Parliament.

Other candidates in the debate were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of New Patriotic Party (NPP); Professor John Evans Ata Mills of National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention People's Party (CPP).

Dr Mahama, who spotted white smock on top of a black pair of trousers, his usual cap and a muffler in party colours, was the fourth in the sitting arrangement.

He noted that the search for peace in Ghana could be an effort in futility if justice was not upheld. "A CPP chairman was killed sometime back and people were arrested and let go - till date justice has not been done and that could be a possible source of mob action," he said.

He also noted that in northern Ghana, the interference of politicians in chieftaincy matters had been a major source of the conflicts in parts of that area, saying that under PNC Government the politicians would keep off chieftaincy issues and allow chiefs to deal with such matters.

"Under my Government the police will deal with crime and chiefs will deal with chieftaincy issues," he said. Dr Mahama also promised to ensure judicial independence by improving the judicial system to enable it to provide justice without influences from politicians.

"The days when senior politicians protect junior politicians from the long arms of the law would be over under a PNC government," he said. On energy, Dr Mahama promised to explore wind, solar, bio-fuel and nuclear energy sources to augment the hydro and thermal energy in the country, adding that even the two existing sources would be improved substantially.

He also promised to improve the management of energy and cut down the wastage in the system to ensure that production cost also reduced substantially to make energy affordable to citizens. Dr Mahama said under a PNC Government petrol chemical industries would be established in the Western Region to process some of the oil discovered for local consumption.

"We will also build a university in the Western Region with a particular focus on training people in oil management to man the petrol chemical industry.

"We will also ensure transparency of contracts with the overseas explorers through a Parliamentary scrutiny process to ensure that the public knows the quantity of oil going out and how much revenue is coming in," he said.

He said PNC Government would create an effective link between the petrol chemical industry and agro-industries to ensure that the food production sector got enough oil and other by-products to increase production for the benefit of the masses.

"Through that linkage we are sure to create at least 100,000 jobs in the first year of our coming into government," he said. Touching on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Dr Mahama said he would not go round begging for investors to come into the country, but rather focus on helping local investors and innovators to improve their production and thereby attract foreign investor to partner with them. He cited the Rev. Safo Kantanka, Head of the Kristo Asafo Mission, who uses reverse engineering to manufacture cars and other mechanical equipment, saying that a PNC government would support such initiatives. Dr Mahama deplored the existence of borders and roadblocks on trade routes within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and promised that if voted president, he would use his good relations with other Heads of State and government in the Sub-Region to remove the roadblocks to allow trade to flourish.

He said his Government would ensure food security by creating market at the farm gates; improving irrigation systems through rainwater harvesting and providing functional storage and food preservations systems.

"We would go back to Operation Feed Yourself but in a modified form," he said.

On quality education and social security, Dr Mahama said he would focus on improving the lot of teachers and revamping the salary system in the country to ensure that pension money was calculated on a larger basic salary than what it was now.

"That way we would encourage more people into the teaching profession to fill in the huge gap which is adversely affecting quality education in the country," he said.

Dr Mahama noted that some of the investment made by SSNIT with pensioners' fund were low yielding and that had led to low pension payment to retired workers, saying that a PNC Government would re-look at some of those investment and ensure that the interest of the masses were upheld in that regard.

He said the PNC would overhaul the public health system to for instance prevent maternal mortality, which now stood at 50 per 1,000 mothers.

Dr Mahama used his concluding statement to call on Ghanaians to choose between the road that led to destruction and violence and that which led to prosperity and progress and promised a leadership of honesty and sincerity saying that under his leadership there would be real change and real hope for the people.

"I will provide leadership by example - leadership that does what it tells others to do - people centred leadership," he said. In all, there were eleven major questions, which focused on job creation; education; health; security; law and order; oil revenue; energy; women and children's rights; foreign direct investment; food security and intra-regional trade.

There were four rounds of four questions each. For the first two rounds each candidate had three minutes to answer a major questions and a minute for rebuttal, which was optional. Two minutes was allotted for major questions in the third and fourth rounds and each was given an extra two minutes to make concluding remarks.

The moderators were Mr. Cyril Akolatse, a veteran broadcaster and Prof. Kwame Karikari, Associate Professor of the School of Communications Studies, University of Ghana.

Dr Nduom gives condition for production of oil in Ghana

Accra, Oct. 29, GNA - "If the oil is not going to benefit Ghanaians then it must stay under the ground," Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Presidential Candidate of the Convention People's Party (CPP) said at the first Election 2008 Presidential Debate.

He said, "CPP led government will ensure that revenue generated from the oil industry benefits Ghanaians, especially communities who will be affected by the oil exploitation in the Western Region".

Citing experiences in the solid mineral sector, where most communities in which the mines were allocated did not benefit from the gold, diamond and manganese deposits, Dr Nduom said the oil resources must be used for the benefit of the people.

The debates featured the four Presidential Candidates with representation in Parliament; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP); Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Dr Edward Nasigrie Mahama of the People's National Convention (PNC).

Dr Nduom said for the country to be saved from the experiences of what was happening in Niger Delta of Nigeria, communities around such resources would be rebuilt.

The CPP Presidential Candidate said petrol chemical industries would be set up to provide the people in the community employment and direct benefit from the resource.

He said a CPP led Government through Parliament would enact a law to prevent the Executive from taking decisions on how the oil revenue was used. On security and crime he called for a proper identification system of properties and people to allow for easy tracking of criminals. In addition the Attorney General's Office would be separated from Ministry of Justice to ensure quick prosecution of criminal cases. Dr Nduom also pledged to use the State's purchasing power to buy what was produced locally to boost demand and create market for people. Commenting on the NPP Government slogan 'private sector as the engine of growth of the economy' Dr Nduom said an engine alone could not move so a CPP led Government would provide the engine with a body, fix tyres and provide a competent driver.


He said his administration would pursue local investment and not foreign direct investment, saying as President he would go round the country to find out what the needs of businesses were and provide for those needs.


Dr Nduom stressed the need for agricultural subsidies, saying they would help farmers and fishermen to produce sufficient food to bring about food security.

In all, there were eleven major questions, which focused on job creation, education, health, security, law and order, oil revenue, energy, women and children's rights, foreign direct investment, food security and intra-regional trade.


There were four rounds of four questions each. For the first two rounds each candidate had three minutes to answer a major questions and a minute for rebuttal, which was optional.


Two minutes was allotted for major questions in the third and fourth rounds and each was given an extra two minutes to make concluding remarks.

Source: GNA

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