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02.05.2008 General News


By Samuel Amoako -
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PRESIDENT J.A. Kufuor yesterday assured the nation that the government is ready to meet further legitimate demands by the Electoral Commission (EC) to ensure free and fair elections in December.

He stated that the government has already met in full the request for funding for the forthcoming general election submitted by the EC through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Addressing workers at the national May Day rally at the Independence Square in Accra, President Kufuor urged the EC to be professional in its work.

He said, however, that the responsibility of running credible elections goes beyond the EC to include every Ghanaian and stressed the need for people to desist from pronouncements which give rise to undue skepticism and work together with the Commission to ensure transparency, fairness and peace.

Any misunderstanding that will arise from the elections he said, should be subjected to due process, adding 'the government will do nothing against the law'.

He said Ghana is considered a beacon of democracy and therefore 'we should all commit ourselves, through our conduct, to validate this positive assessment'.

Describing the occasion as very emotional for him since it was the last time for him as the President of Ghana to join workers to celebrate May Day, President Kufuor asked the political parties to see themselves as part of the constitutional organs for running elections and behave in the letter and spirit of the constitution, to assist the process and be law-abiding adding, 'anything else will be illegal and detrimental to the progress of our nation'. The President said that the National Media Commission, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the National Commission for Civic Education all have a stake in the constitutional order and any individual serving on any of them and covertly undermines the spirit and letter of the constitution, betrays the nation and must suffer the consequences.

On pay reforms, the President said the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission was established to implement public service pay policy in a fair, transparent and systematic manner, using best practices.

Currently, he said, a team of consultants and technical experts has been engaged to work on a 'single-spine pay structure' which will become the public pay policy in due course.

He said the pay policy requires extensive consultations with identified stakeholders including organised labour to ensure comprehensive dissemination of policy objectives, acceptance and ownership of the policy, adding that it is in that manner that the integrity and permanency of the policy could be assured.

The President said Ghana has witnessed steady progress over the years but has suddenly come up against a phenomenal global challenge of high prices of crude oil and food.

But in a sense, he said Ghana has been saved by improved agriculture practices which yielded adequate food supplies despite the flooding of the food growing areas of the northern regions and part of the Western region last year.

He said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been directed to ensure proper marketing and sale of agricultural produce to ensure even distribution of food throughout the country.

'This way, no region should experience food shortages. Government is also making arrangements to stock grains to ensure food security in the short term,' he said.

The President said Ghana should show awareness of what was happening around her and appreciate that but for good management, she might have been suffering the same fate as others in the neighbourhood.

'Thank God, we are getting by. So, we should hold together and not hype the problems to disrupt the smooth development of our socio-economy,' he said.

Turning to Ghana’s signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, the President explained that it was a transitional arrangement for getting the country’s produce onto the European market.

Though it has attracted much criticism, he said, it was the way to save the country’s export industry and thereby protecting jobs and earn revenue.

On railway, he said the government was saddened by the strike action by workers in the sector.

After more than 20 years of non-functional railway system, he said the country has come to a point where it is ready to construct a modern railway system to replace the old one.

He said a seed money of 90 million dollars has been made available to leverage a consortium to find resources of over one billion dollars for the project.

That, he said, will involve the Accra – Kumasi line which will be extended to Tamale, as well as the Accra – Takoradi line and added that the workers should begin to appreciate what was being done in the sector.

He said he was making arrangements to meet the workers and management of the sector to resolve the impasse.

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