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Politics Tue, 27 Jan 2004

ANALYSIS: Snap Shots of 2004 State of Nation Address

The President's "State of The Nation" address on Thursday, January 22, has already drawn mixed reaction. It has been variously described as the screeching of an "old gramophone record", a park of "factual inaccuracies" to "excellent" and "comprehensive speech". The reaction, however, depends on whom you talk to and which camp of the political divide the respondent leans to.
Of course two of the issues that did not attract the President's attention this time round are corruption and decent housing for the teeming population. Some found the quiet on corruption particularly striking given that the 2003 Transparency International's corruption index saw Ghana dropping to 1999 levels of 3.3, down from a high of 3.9 in 2002.
The President's silence on corruption is loudest because Kufuor declared war on corruption right from assumption of office three years ago - "zero tolerance for corruption," he told Ghanaians as he declared his era as the "Golden Age of Business".
Public perception about corruption in officialdom remains high. Indeed, investigations Parliament conducted between 2002/2003 into public perception of corruption in the Judiciary, one of the three arms of government, revealed exactly that - corruption is very high.
On international relations the President showed his pride and happiness: "We are at peace with our neighbours and it has also raised Ghana's stature within the comity of nations."
The President was re-elected to serve a second term as chairman of ECOWAS and in the December 2003 ECOWAS summit [in Accra] selected Ghana to host the headquarters of the West Africa Central Bank in 2005.
The President's 23-page address on Thursday was just about half of the 40-page document he read a year ago. He, however, repeated his call on Ghanaians to change their change attitudes to work and sanitation.
But unlike a year ago when the President prefaced his State of the Nation address with the inspirational words of the late Ephraim Amu's "Yen ara asase ni" - This is our land, land of priceless heritage, won for us by our forefathers with their blood, sweat and toil " President Kufuor thumped into his short address with a litany of the mess in which his administration found the national kitty on assumption of office on January 7, 2001. He ended with what the NPP administration has achieved over the period.
Here is an easy read of the issues President Kufuor raised in his 2004 State of the Nation address:

Economy as at January 7, 2001:

1. The exchequer was depleted with reserves for imports not exceeding three week's supplies, with only six days crude oil reserves. Tema Oil Refinery was heavily "indebted".
2. Law and order situation was chaotic; "our womenfolk and the entire society was gripped in an atmosphere of terror".
3. Access to credit was virtually impossible and there was hardly any private sector worth talking about.
4. An intractable regime of high interest rates of over 50 per cent in the banks and an inflation rate of over 40 per cent.
5. Infrastructure of the nation was in total shambles. He cited the "arterial roads network spreading from Accra, the capital, to the east, west and the north of the country."
6. The national telecommunication system had been bled into unimaginable inefficiencies through doubtful agreements.
7. The energy sector was riddled with many unproductive white elephant projects.
8. Our hospitals, which had been described as cemeteries twenty years earlier, had degenerated further into infernos.
9. Educational institutions were begging for expansion and refurbishment.
10. The railway system had been abandoned, with tracks taken over by hawkers and coaches serving as homes for squatters.
What the President said have been achieved in the past three years:

Economy:

"At the end of 2003 all the macroeconomic trends pointed at sound and sustainable development."
1. Inflation has been on a general decline; the Cedi was relatively stable throughout the year.
2. Domestic borrowing by government in 2003 was the lowest in many years;
3. The accumulation of foreign exchange reserves was the highest within memorable years, and currently stands at over $1.4 billion and covers four months of imports.
4. Interest rates fell from about 50 per cent in the banks to the current 26 per cent. The Central Bank's base rate has also declined from over 30 per cent to the current 21.5 per cent. "In other words, business and individuals can expect some predictability and stability in making their plans."
5. Investor confidence in 2003 was high, the President said, leading to the Ghana Stock Exchange all-share index recording a gain of over 108 per cent - making the GSE one of the best performing markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
Expectations for 2004:
1 "We will resist all temptations and pressures to depart from the expenditure framework that will be outlined in the forthcoming budget.
2 Plug leakages in the tax system.

INFRASTRUCTURE: 2003

1. The three major arterial roads out of the capital, Accra-Kumasi, Accra-Cape Coast, and Accra-Aflao linking the country to her ECOWAS neighbours are all at different stages of construction.
2. Work on the Tetteh Quarshie interchange component of the Accra-Mamfe road is half completed.
3. Other road works going on are the Bole-Bamboi, Manso-Asankragwa, Jesikan-Brewaniase, Kpando-Worawora, Bekwai-Kuntunase, Sunyani-Ntotoroso, Tamale-Yendi, Axim Junction-Tarkwa, Bibiani-Abuakwa, Wa-Han-Tumu and the Chuchuliga-Sissili roads.
4. About 2,000 km of feeder roads were either regravelled, rehabilitated or spot improved.
5. Walkways and safe routes were provided for cluster of schools in some suburbs of Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi, under a project dubbed "Safe Walk To School".
6. The Metro Mass Transit Company increased its fleet of buses to 262 buses and extended it services started in Accra, to Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi and now Tamale.
7. The Inter-City STC Company acquired 48 new luxury buses to augment its fleet.
8. The rail sector hauled 1.57 million tonnes of freight as against a projected 1.40 million tonnes.
9. A credit facility from a Chinese company, Alcatel Shangai to enable Ghana Telecom to acquire more switches to expand its services including wiring of second cycle schools and colleges to facilitate the deployment of ICT facilities secured.
10. The Kofi Annan ICT Centre of Excellence was commissioned in December to produce the human capacity needed for the emerging ICT industry in Ghana and the sub-region.

Expectations for 2004:

1. Metro Mass Transit Company to augment its fleet with 100 DAF/Neoplan buses from The Netherlands and 250 new buses from China.
2. Work on the Pantang-Mamfe road to start in February.
3. The refurbished departure hall of KIA is expected to be operational by the end of March. Installation of aerobridges and aperture satellite equipment to improve aeronautical communication system.
4. Rehabilitate the national carrier, Ghana Airways "one way or the other, even if as a joint venture company flying the national flag."
5. By December, 25 percent of schools and colleges would have been hooked to ICT.
6. A multi-media Centre located in "Ghana House" in January 2004.

Agriculture: 2003

The country hit its second highest cocoa production level in the 2002/2003 cocoa season with 496,793 tonnes.
The highest ever was achieved in the 1964/1965 season with 580,869 tonnes. In terms of foreign exchange receipts, however, the $889 million of the 2002/2003 cocoa season is the highest ever.

Education: 2003

1. Six hundred and eighty five [685] three-unit classroom blocks, each with toilet, urinal, teachers' common room, store and library were constructed for basic schools across the nation.
2. Work started on the first batch [31 schools] under the programme to upgrade one senior secondary school in each district.
3. Distance education enrolment rose from 750 in 2001/2002 ear to 3,618 in 2002/2003 academic year.
4. An estimated ?224 billion was spent to modernize and enlarge the capacity of facilities at the universities and polytechnics. Another ?28.8 billion went to support research.

Expectations for 2004:

1. Four hundred and forty [440] three-unit classroom blocks, each with toilet, urinal, teachers' common room, store and library were constructed for basic schools across the country.
2. An amount of ?9-million has been provided to the 40 most deprived districts to enable them to abolish all fees and levies in the districts.
3. Work to start on the second batch [25] of upgrading one senior secondary school in each district.

Health: 2003

1. The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was enacted.
2. Ghana's first Postgraduate College of Physicians and Surgeons was inaugurated. Doctors can access the College from their district hospitals while continuing their normal work.
3. Programme of dispensing imported anti-retroviral drugs at subsidized rates to HIV patients started.

Employment: 2003

Between 2001-2003 a total of 98,278 and 166,000 jobs were created in the formal and informal sector respectively.

Expectations for 2004:

1. Under the Skill Training and Employment Placement programme 23,000 young people will be trained in various vocations.

Local Government: 2004

The national sanitation policy will become operational this year with emphasis on inspection, compliance, enforcement, hygiene education and pest control.
The first phase of Ghana Land Administration programme to harmonise land policies and its legislative framework will start in the year.

Private Sector development: 2003

1. And in 2003, the Wenchi Tomato Factory, Coastal Groves Limited in the Central Region and Bosbel Vegetable Mills Limited in Tamale benefited from the African Development Fund project.
2. The Ayensu Starch Factory, Bawjiase, the first cassava project under the President Special Initiatives was commissioned in April 2003. It employs 10,000 farmers.
3. A modern Clothing Technology and Training Centre was established in Accra in 2003.

Expectations for 2004:

1. One hundred medium-sized garments and textile factories are expected to be completed as part of an industrial park in the Export Processing Zone.
2. Five to eight small to medium scale enterprises are being supported with credit of up to $500,000 each year for the next five years.

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Source: Public Agenda
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