"We are not in gov't to loot" - Vice President
............. We Don't believe you -NDC Vice President, Aliu Mahama, has assured Ghanaians that his New Patriotic Party (NPP) is in government to serve the public interest and not to loot its coffers. "We did not go into government because of money; we have our own Mercedes Benzes and Pajeros. We have not come to steal government's money," he stressed. Alhaji Mahama's assertion was re-echoed by Major (rtd.) Courage Quashigah, Food and Agriculture Minister, who added that the NPP leaders and appointees had their own houses before winning power. What motivated the group to fight for power was the overriding desire to make sacrifices in pursuit of the welfare of the ordinary Ghanaian. Both NPP leaders were among a dozen top notches who addressed the national rally that crowned the weeklong 10th anniversary of the centre right party. The Veep said in line with the party's vision it repealed the Criminal Libel law on assumption of office and engendered genuine freedom that is fundamental to general development. "People can now come out to say anything they like and get away with it," he said, but was quick to add that "this is not an indication that the government is weak." He urged the good people of Ghana not to pay attention to "lies" being peddled on some of the airwaves and assured that in the next few weeks many tangible development projects will be started as a sequel to the peace and freedom prevailing. Alhaji Mahama mentioned the roads from Nkrumah Circle to Achimota in Accra, Kete Krachi to Tamale and some major roads in the Brong Ahafo Region. He added that tenders would be opened to pave way for the construction of Wa and Bamboi roads. Vice President Mahama blamed the lack of job opportunities on mismanagement of state enterprises such as the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Airways and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) by previous governments. He, however, assured the youth of jobs when the state enterprises are revived in the near future. On food production Quashigah painted a hopeful picture by disclosing that the Afife rice fields in the Volta Region whose size shrank from 440 hectares to only 20 hectares at one stage have now become a "star rice producer in the country." The Keta-born retired soldier also announced that the Keta Sea Defence project is going on steadily after a chequered history occasioned by the NDC government's failure to pay the contractors three of their installments. After disclosing that the NPP administration had cleared the outstanding installments, he predicted that the defence wall would become a tourist attraction upon completion. "We'll never set apart the Volta Region. We will make such an impact there that they will come to know that they once followed the wrong person, that's all," he remarked to debunk assertions that the NPP was neglecting the Volta Region. Projecting the party's optimism of victory in the next elections which are two and a half years away, Major (rtd.) Quashigah said amidst cheers: "We are not campaigning again, come 2004; we will just go to the polling stations and make sure we win." The Minister for Women and Children's Affairs, Mrs. Gladys Asmah, disclosed that her ministry has disbursed ¢500,000 each to 50 women to aid them in their business but was not happy because some of the banks have not disbursed the money. She cited an instance when in February this year, her ministry sent ¢1,407 million to a bank but said that amount has still not been disbursed. Mr. Agyeman Manu, Deputy Minister for Roads and Transport, on his part, mentioned that the Accra to Mamfe, Kumasi to Aflao roads are going to be reconstructed this year and added that before this year ends, access roads will have been constructed in most villages. The Minister of Lands and Forestry, Prof. Kasim Kasanga, said bad laws relative to the timber industry would be done away with. "From now on, there will be no timber rights; all timber should be auctioned; no timber should go for free," he said, and added that the management of lands should go back to the chiefs. In his anniversary message to party activists, the National Chairman of the party, Mr. Haruna Esseku, urged the people to support the government in development of the country. "The success of the government and the party is success of everyone here, and the failure of the government and party, is also the failure of everyone here," he stressed. He called on the people to be united and work hard as this would always achieve success.