Press Statement on NDC Top 50 Achievements in Two Years.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, we thank you for showing up in your usual numbers at such short notice. We called you here today for a short review of a 39-page publication compiled and presented by the Ministry of Information, the same Ministry that announced at the beginning of the year that the Mills-Mahama administration had created 1 million 6 hundred thousand jobs in under one year.
This latest potential award-winning fiction from the Mills-Mahama government, which I hold in my hand, is titled: BETTER GHANA AGENDA – TOP 50 ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE PROF. JOHN EVANS ATTA MILLS LED GOVERNMENT IN HIS FIRST TWO YEARS IN OFFICE.
On Thursday, December 2, the President admitted that his first two years have been marked by inaction. In his own words he conceded that things have been slow but that Ghanaians should not give up on him yet.
Prof Mills said, “Time is not on our side and we want the year 2011 to be a year of action. Our people are very expectant and justifiably so… They know that there are a lot of things in the pipeline and they are itching to see what is going to be on the ground.”
With this uncharacteristic confession from a president who awarded himself an 80% mark for his first 100 days, President Mills has conceded that his first two years have been marked by broken promises. That, at best, the wheels of the Better Ghana Agenda have been grinding slowly even if in the wrong direction, with the poverty of the masses, the very people that he promised to care for, increasing by everyday.
In this case, it would be hopelessly optimistic to expect his top 50 achievements to be anything to write home about. But, since he has spent money and a portion of our depleting forest to print those modest achievements in a book, we are compelled to check the facts against the claims.
Ladies and gentlemen, what this document shows is that the NDC has given up on any hope of caring about the plight of Ghanaians; any hope of telling the truth. In fact, the book is an embarrassing litany of barefaced lies, quarter-truths, exaggerations, deceptions and hijacking of projects undertaken by the New Patriotic Party. A cursory glance through the book would show that about half of the top 50 achievements are either about projects being planned or dreamed of and the other half comprising mostly projects that were initiated by the New Patriotic Party under the excellent leadership of President J A Kufuor and his competent deputy, Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama. Indeed, commissioned or completed projects, like the 100-bed Hospital with Malaria Research Centre at Teshie, Accra, were the ones that President Kufuor started and secured funding for their completion.
With this document, the Mills-Mahama administration has only confirmed the reputation that they have earned in the eyes and minds of Ghanaians half way through their four-year term and are jealously guarding and guiding to defeat in 2012, by the grace of God. This is a government that has spent more time, energy, personnel, money and other state resources on perfecting the art of deception, hypocrisy, incompetence, mediocrity and propaganda than on finding a formula to implementing their stated Better Ghana Agenda.
Ordinarily, one would support a smart decision to publish a book that highlights the achievements of the Mills-Mahama administration because how else would we have known? The achievements are such that one needs telescopic propaganda lenses to sight them on the ground. When achievements are lost to the sights, hearing and feeling of the people, it beholds on Government, the sole claimer of those so-called achievements to enlighten we the seemingly ignorant masses to its 'wonderful' deeds.
So disappointing have the first two years of Prof Mills' presidency been that his own deputy, Vice President John Mahama, does not even wish to be associated with it. He is begging that we allow the President to carry the burden of liabilities alone. He has warned Ghanaians against calling this government a Mills-Mahama administration. He wants us to spare his future ambition the stain of a Better Ghana. So disillusioning has the Mills-Mahama administration been that the unthinkable has happened; in that, with more than half of the four-year term left to go, the ruling party's foot-soldiers are said to be busily drafting a challenger or two to stop the President from attempting a second term on the ticket of his own party at their party's 2012 presidential primary.
So what are these top 50 achievements of the Prof Mills-led government in its first two years that are so worthy of being promoted at a cost to the struggling Ghanaian taxpayer?
Let us pick the achievements randomly and expose them for what they are: empty or borrowed. Achievement Number 14 of the 50 has the NDC citing the School Feeding Programme as one of its top achievements. The NDC says that the programme has been expanded and/or will be expanded, by saying, “230 more schools will be enrolled in January 2011.” The programme, it is recalled, started as a pilot scheme under the NPP with over 500,000 schools. In the 2008 NDC Manifesto, "A Better Ghana: Investing in People, Jobs and the Economy," Ghanaian parents and school children were promised that an NDC Government would “expand and improve the quality of the School Feeding Programme to cover all primary schools countrywide,” within its first two years. According to the 2011 budget statement, only 670,000 pupils are covered by the programme. The NDC has broken its promise to provide one free meal a day to over five million Ghanaian children yet it sees the honour and glory in announcing that only 230 more schools will benefit next year.
Still on education, page 42 of the 2010 Budget promised to “replace all schools under trees with classroom blocks”. But, Achievement 16 of the green book claims, “A sustained peogramme involving the Ministry of Education, GetFund, and resources allocated by the various District Assemblies has” led to the elimination across the country of “almost 1,000 schools under trees… out of the 4320 schools under trees.”
The 2010 budget, however, put the total number of schools under trees at 3,427. Does this mean that the Better Ghana Agenda has rather led to a nearly 900 additional schools under trees? Yet two weeks or so before this book was published, on November 18, to be precise, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, in reading the 2011 Budget Statement, reported to Parliament that only 175 new schools had been built to replace schools under trees; more than a 500% difference between the two figures from the same Government. So, I beg to ask, which one should we believe? In fact, at this rate, it would take the NDC at least 30 years to fulfill its promise of eliminating schools under trees.
This is even more worrying when the Mills-Mahama administration is going to reduce revenues into the GetFund, District Assembly Common Fund and the NHIS by a massive 30%, ostensibly to pay salaries. This translates into huge cuts in frontline social services such as healthcare to the poor and needy, education for our children and provision of other vital social services by District Assemblies to the communities which they are elected to serve. The suffering of the masses will continue in 2011 – that is the action we are likely to see. More poverty and action for some rations.
But, even after the 30% slash off these social funds, our numerous nurses and teachers have no reason to expect 2011 to be a year of action in terms of their demands for better salaries being met. Going by its own budget provisions, the Mills-Mahama administration has no plans of migrating education and health workers onto an acceptable Single Spine Salary Structure before the end of the year four-year term. Even in 2010, with the Police and a few others being put on board the SSSS, not even the revised budget provision of GHC3.46 billion could cater for them because the estimated cost of implementing the 2010 SSSS was GHC4.43 billion, leaving arrears of GHC1.01 billion, with GHC755 million of that being shifted to 2011, by the MOFEP's own estimation. For the 2011 budget, Government has only made provisions of GHC3.73 billion for all personal emoluments of public sector workers. Even if all that were to be used for the SSSS, its estimated cost for 2011 is, by the Ministry of Finance's own calculation, GHC5.29 billion, GHC1.96 billion short of what is put down for all personal emoluments for next year. Yet, Achievement 5 of the green book states boldly, “Single Spine Salary implementation is vigorously underway.” However, the dictionary defines 'vigorous' as characterized by forceful and energetic action or activity; full of vim; raring to go. By the words of the Minister, it may take another 5 years for the going to rare its head.
Achievement 9, which talks about the TOR debt repeats the claim that the Mills-Mahama “administration has… cleared over 50% of the [TOR] debt with an amount of GHC445 million.” This presupposes that the outstanding TOR debt must be around GHC445 million. If so, then why has Government decided to increase the TOR Debt Recovery Levy by 400%? How much of the TOR debt is left? How much has the NDC added to it? This 400% levy hike would add another 6 pesewas per litre on petroleum products by January 1, 2011, the very year President Mills has nicknamed a Year of Action. Already we know that Government intends to raise petroleum prices by at least another 10% in January, on top of an expected upward review on utility prices. Are Ghanaians being told that what our tax expert President, Prof Mills, meant by a year of action is really a year of more insensitive, coldhearted, merciless action on increasing the tax burden on Ghanaians?
When President Kufuor, after commissioning a report on it, set out to integrate the revenue agencies, the idea was not necessarily to increase the tax burden on ordinary Ghanaian taxpayers but to bring efficiency in their work. Ironically, true to the dishonesty in this green book, Achievement 6 claims the integrated Ghana Revenue Authority as one of the top 50 achievements of President Mills.
Achievement 20 cites the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority, a major broken promise as a top achievement even though its funding is about 1000% below target. Achievement 45 symbolises the deception of the NDC. Both in their 2008 manifesto and the President's state of the nation address this year, they gave their word to implement before the end of this year a one-term premium payment for the NHIS. But, the 2011 Budget is absolutely silent on it. The green book, highlighting their top achievements can only say, “With or without the implementation of one time premium payment, the NHIS will need additional resources to sustain it.” A clear achievement, according to the green book, is that “A nationwide survey to determine the willingness of the citizenry to pay the one time premium was conducted in 2009.” What can be more profligate spending than this?
Dr Kwabena Duffuor, the Finance Minister, said in his maiden budget that the NDC projects to save GHC8 million from cutting dowm the number of Ministers and running a lean government. We are therefore disappointed that Achievement 19 in the green book still states, “It is projected that approximately GHC 8 million is saved annually by this bold decision.” So after two years the Finance Minister cannot tell Ghanaians how much he has really saved for the Information Ministry to still rely on projected savings? This is not good enough. Did you make savings or did you not, Mr President?
Achievement 29 says, “Pair trawling and light fishing totally banned.” We wish to advise the President and his propaganda artists to extend their occasional publicity walkabout to the fishing communities. In fact, there is one not too far from the Castle. Pair trawling still persist. If in doubt ask the fishermen of Moree, Cape Coast, Ekon, etc. In fact, the worst performing sub-sector in 2009 was the fishing industry. On top of that, premix fuel price has jumped from GHC1.80 from December 2008 to GHC2.70 per gallon today. This is in spite of the official price being set at GHC2.48. At Moree, Anomabu, Biriwa, etc, the fisher-folk allege that GHC0.20 is illegally put on the premix and the proceeds put in the NDC party's account. We have evidence of Account No. D733 at Nyankumase Rural Bank, Abura Dunkwa. Price of outboard motor has gone up from GHC2,800 in 2008 to GHC5,400 today.
But the green book continues with its tale of two Ghana – a Better Ghana for the few who have access to power and the Bitter Ghana of the vast majority of Ghanaians. Achievement 25 makes another of the numerous false claims that the “distribution of fertilizer to interested farmers at a 50% discount” as a Mills-Mahama achievement. Perhaps, the social democrats, so-called, want us to congratulate them for keeping an NPP programme going, somehow.
Let us continue. Achievement 26 have the NDC, again, making a false claim that the first phase of the Tono Irrigation Dam rehabilitation, undertaken by the NPP, is an NDC achievement. The document also takes credit for the farm tractors which the NPP imported and paid for in 2008 only for the NDC to distribute in 2009 to grateful beneficiaries, including Mahama Ayariga, as an NDC achievement.
The green book, if we may repeat, has been completed with projects undertaken by the NPP, depleted with plans and programmes either yet to start or to complete.
Achievement 37 makes another misleading claim the NDC has “transformed the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into an Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) with more powers and independence. It was President Kufuor's Attorney General, Joe Ghartey who spearheaded the transformation after studying a similar organization in the United Kingdom.
Under Achievement 41, the NDC makes another propaganda claim that “President Mills has returned to the Nungua Stool 60% of the lands taken from them in the 1940s.” Strangely these same lands have been returned three times, first under President Kufuor in 2008, when all the documentations were processed, second, in April 2009 the same land was returned to the original owners by President Mills, according to a Daily Graphic publication, and, again, in February 2010.
We would like to know why is President Mills deceiving Ghanaians and trying to take credit for President Kufuor's achievements when he himself admits that his first two years have been characterized by apparent inaction?
Such is the pace of action that Achievement 38 couldn't have captured it better. Referring to the stalled but vital Madina-Pantang 5.6km road dualisation project, it reads: “Work is in progress on this project, though slow.”
Indeed, eleven of the thirty nine pages of the green book are devoted to roads, including the Kumasi-Techiman Road constructed by the NPP, which President Kufuor even referred to during his 72 nd birthday message yesterday.
The Mills-Mahama administration unashamedly lists critical artery road construction projects which were started by the NPP and have been stalled under the NDC as some of their top 50 achievements. Instead of dealing with the news that their refusal to pay contractors is responsible for 20% of bad loans on the books of the country's banks, the NDC prefers to tout this plight of contractors and commuters as evidence of the Better Ghana Agenda.
Among the stalled road projects listed in the green book are the extension to the La-Teshie Road, which has suffered long delays; the Oforikrom-Asokwa bypass (including an interchange at Timber Gardens), which was scheduled for completion last June but now not likely to be completed before 2012.
Even for funding road works, the NDC touts as an achievement their decision to divert $250 million that the late Kwadwo Baah Wiredu secured from Brazil for the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Oti River for the construction of the Damanko-Sakeigu Road. And this is a government that promises to increase Ghana's power base to 5,000 megawatts.
The NDC makes a shocking but true-to-character claim that the 5.7 km three-lane Achimota-Ofankor Road is 80% complete (yes, ladies and gentlemen, 80% complete) and that the “expected completion date is May 2011.” What is so 80% about the level of work so far achieved on that major road, which links Accra to the rest of the country northwards? It is as convincing as the President awarding himself an 80% pass mark, which translates into a first class distinction. All the big machineries which represented action on all the major road projects (except the Millennium Challenge Account sponsored Tetteh Quarshie-Mallam Road) are now nowhere in sight. The number of workers on these major road projects started by the NPP look conspicuously as small as the number of watchmen one would normally find guarding a collapsed factory. Bebi ara awu!
May be we should be charitable here since the NDC has shown themselves to have problems with appreciating numbers and percentages of work completed. We do all recall how, in August this year, the Vice President did not find it awkward to commission, amid razzmatazz and paparazzi, an uncompleted Mile 7 overpass footbridge on the stalled Achimota-Ofankor road. In the 2011 Budget Government did not allocate any specific funds for that project and yet the NDC remains optimistic that the project would be completed in five months time.
We consider this false optimism to be an insult on the injuries caused to commuters who have to endure the inconvenience of stalled but important projects like this, including the Nsawam-Apedwa Dualisation and the 4.6km Tetteh Quarshie –Madina Road. Here again, the green book obediently tells us that “substantial part of the road works in respect of this project has been completed.” This project, which was also not allocated any budgetary funds is, according to the gospel of the green book, “programmed to be completed by the end of 2011.”
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, these are the top 50 achievements as told by the apostles of the Better Ghana Agenda. You may wonder which of the projects mentioned can be described as an NDC initiative. But, don't give up just yet. The green book contains a generous list of some new projects. What is distinctive of these NDC programmes is that they are mere plans. To be fair, with some of them, plans are said to be far advanced in getting their implementation off the ground.
Several designs are stated as among the top 50 achievements. For example “Designs are ready for the Phase 2 of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital redevelopment”. Also, “Plans are far advanced to procure 2 MRIs for Tamale and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, respectively.”
Achievements 31, 32, 33 and others , focusing on roads, tell us:
· Elubo-Asemkrom Road:- 50km out of 84km have been surveyed and designed. Tender documents are being prepared for tendering and award by the end of the year.
· Enchi-Benchema-Goaso-Sunyani:- Plans are being made for reconstruction of the sections in poor condition.
· Tarkwa-Bogoaso-Ayumfuri:- The Tender Evaluation Report has been completed and forwarded to the European Union for review.
· Ayamfuri-Asawinso:- Draft Tender Documents for procurement of works have been submitted to the World Bank.
· Hohoe-Poase:- designs drawinhs have been completed.
· Dodo Pepesu-Nkwanta:- Tenders will be re-launched before the end of 2010.
· Nkwanta-Bimbilla-Yendi:- A consultant has been engaged to uncdertake feasibility studies and detailed design of this stretch of the corridor.
· Buipe-Tamale:- Tender Evaluation report has been submitted to the World Bank for 'no objection' before an award of contract.”
The NDC has a history as a Government that sets its own targets and misses them for fun. Achievement 34, for example, states, “The Department of Feeder Roads had carried out routine maintenance on a total of 5,149km of the feeder road network.” What it does not reveal, however, is that at Page 127 of the 2010 Budget, it was promised that routine maintenance would be done on 26,223 km of feeder roads. Hit and miss.
Again, the Department of Urban Roads (DUR) was to undertake routine and periodic maintenance works on at least 9,033 km of its urban road network, according to Page 129 of the 2010 Budget. But, according to Page 112 of the 2011 Budget, the Mills-Mahama government only managed to complete a total of 3,550km of routine maintenance and periodic maintenance works across the country. Here we go again with the hit and miss target practicing.
Government promised to sink 1,474 new boreholes, rehabilitate 225 bore holes, dig 1,093 hand dug wells, and construct 134 small community pipe systems (ref: Page 111 of 2010 Budget). But, it only managed to construct 64 new boreholes, 2 small community pipe systems and 2 hand dug wells, as well as 36 existing boreholes rehabilitated. (see Page 98 of 2011 Budget).
In the President's State of the Nation Address, he repeated a manifesto pledge that he will “revise the Assets Declaration Law to make it more functional.” Not only has he broken that promise, his well-publicised directive for all his ministers to declare their assets by a certain date last year was ignored by virtually all of them – and the good professor spared them the cane, as usual. See no evil, hear no evil, and touch no evil.
Nevertheless, the green book is proud to say, “President Mills [is] leading by example with integrity, as he has never been embroiled in any corruption allegation.”
Under 'Rule of Law, Achievement 11 of the green book, the party, whose National Chairman, boasted he knew so many ways to “kill a cat”, threatening to cleanse the judiciary, presumably, by extra-judicious means, says it has observed “non-interference with judicial decisions” in the last two years.
The President promised to make every Ghanaian sleep in peace without worrying about armed robberies. But, while the statistics show that reported robbery incidents went down insignificantly by 1.8% so far in 2010, there were significant increases in robberies in the Ashanti, Northern and Upper West Regions. More alarmingly, car snatching and highway robberies increased by 31.3% and 9.3%.
Surprisingly, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Paul Tawiah Quaye, has sought to put a mighty spin on the unacceptable attacks on police officers by saying the recent attacks and killings of police personnel by armed robbers will continue because the gallant officers have become a thorn in the criminals' flesh. In his words, the recent killing of police officers is “an indication of an assurance of the strength of the police service and the fact that the police are up there doing what they are expected to do without fear or favour.”
Mr Tawiah Quaye went further to explain, “When you have a situation where the institutions that have been mandated to protect lives and properties do their work very well, they are considered impediments on the part of those who want to commit crime. They would not like them; they would try to do the best they can to eliminate these boys.”
President Mills has declared 2011 as a year of action. If the top 50 achievements boldly and proudly stated in this green book is an indication of what is to come then the fear and panic of poverty, insecurity and joblessness would continue until the Good Lord and the majority of Ghanians relief the nation and the people from this bondage of inaction, incompetence, economic hardships, weak land visionless leadership in December 2012.
Until then we would ask President Mills to think again because the Better Ghana Agenda can never be achieved on the alter of propaganda, lies, hypocrisy and a rudderless management of the nation's economy. He cannot tax his way out of the poverty he has plunged Ghanaians into. It would only lead to more and more poverty.
2011 is but a year of taxing economic hardships for the majority of Ghanaians.
How many hungry Ghanaian children could President Mills have fed with Ghana's money that he spent to print this NDC propaganda document and to buy the TV ads and documentaries that we can expect our Christmas holidays to be disturbed with?
Does the Mills-Mahama government think that simply writing to Ghanaians that you are making plans to do something is an achievement? An accomplishment, as the rest of us know it, is actually doing something that matters in the lives of Ghanaians.
President Mills and Vice President Mahama, do something before you go!