... To Launch NDC's Manifesto ... The theme is “A Better Ghana” Tomorrow, Saturday 31st July 2004, the ancient Ashanti capital of Kumasi will shake when the NDC descends on the “Garden City of West Africa” to launch its Manifesto for the 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
That will make the NDC the first political party to launch its Manifesto for this year's elections.
According to information gathered by 'Ghana Palaver' sources close to the Party Headquarters, the Keynote Address and Launch speech will be delivered by Professor John Evans Atta-Mills, the Party's Presidential candidate for the elections.
Other speakers, according to Party sources, include Mr. Haruna Iddrissu, the National Youth Organiser of the Party who will speak on “The Political Content” of the Manifesto, Dr. Tony Aidoo, a member of the National Executive Committee of the party, who will speak on “The Economic Bases” in the Manifesto, and Mrs. Hannah Tetteh-Kpodar, MP for Awutu-Senya who will speak on the “Social Sector Issues” raised in the Manifesto.
According to Party insiders, the launching will be preceded by a meeting of the Party's National Executive Committee to be held in Kumasi today, Friday 30th July, 2004.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NDC MANIFESTO
“A BETTER GHANA”
On 'The Economic Objectives'
Given our imposed HIPC status, the new NDC administration will provide our nation with a new sense of purpose, sweeping away four years of the NPP's Hardships, Incompetence, Parochialism and Corruption (HIPC).
On 'An Unbearable Cost of Living'
We will work with labour to strive to pay a wage that can take care of the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter and leave a little extra to cover minimum water, education, health, transportation and electricity costs.
A step in this direction will be to freeze taxes on personal incomes below a middle class threshold for the next four years in order to stabilise the personal incomes of the people.
On 'The Economic Fundamentals'
An NDC Government will review the structure of the national economy and move it from dependency on foreign donor charity to self-help, domestic initiative and indigenous entrepreneurship.
On 'Fiscal Policy'
We shall reduce import duties on raw materials vital for domestic manufacturing and on key industrial equipment.
We shall abolish the National Development Levy. The Withholding Tax, a form of upfront payment of tax, will also be abolished for industry in order to free resources for investment in that sector.
On 'Poverty Reduction'
Our poverty reduction strategy will aim at increasing the availability of social facilities, education, jobs and income generating ventures for the poor.
On 'Trade in an Era of Globalisation'
We shall review the various so-called Presidential Special Initiatives (PSIs) of the NPP Government and restore them to their appropriate sectors. The PSIs are almost all national programmes of the NDC, which the NPP has appropriated and given a partisan colouration to by re-christening them as “PSIs”.
On 'Agriculture and Food Security'
An NDC Government will establish an Agricultural Development Fund partly from taxes on imported food to accelerate the pace of provision of agricultural related infrastructure and services.
On 'Cocoa - A Reliable Ally'
The Government of the NDC will aim to increase the yield per hectare of cocoa from the current 391 kilograms to at least 700 kilograms per hectare.
We shall strive to pay the cocoa farmer at least 70% of the world market price of cocoa and to process at least 40% of the cocoa produced locally.
The 70% price will not include the cost of cocoa diseases and pest control, cocoa roads, COCOBOD scholarships, hi-tech production and bonuses, which the NPP Government dishonestly and deceitfully added to arrive at the 69.26% which they claimed they were paying to cocoa farmers.
On 'Energy - A 21st Century Necessity'
The PURC will be required to re-examine the cost build-up of electricity tariffs, taking into account the management and operational efficiencies of the ECG and the legal requirements of consultations with a view to arriving at a tariff that recovers cost and that is also reasonable.
We shall unravel the mystery of what really went on in the matter of the VRA's Strategic Reserve Plant and make sure that responsibility is fixed for the serious financial loss that appears to have resulted from the transaction.
We will ensure the fixing of realistic and reasonable prices for petroleum products by reviewing the hidden taxes and levies in the prices which are more of revenue raising than cost recovery measures.
On 'Education - A Right'
The next NDC Government will study the Report of the NPP's Education Reform Review Committee and consult extensively on new modalities and initiatives necessary to remove the problem areas that now hamper the smooth implementation of the programme.
An NDC Government will abide strictly by the GETFund Guidelines - We shall also ensure that there are no GETFund arrears.
On 'Pre-School Education'
We shall rationalise the pre-school system - by integrating pre-school education into the FCUBE system.
On 'Basic Education'
We recognise our constitutional obligation to the implementation of the FCUBE Programme, and we shall continue with it.
The NDC shall, for its purpose, define “free” to mean all those requirements of the school system that are directly attributable to the fact that the child is in school - and that are directly related to the teaching and learning process.
“Free”, therefore, will mean, for the NDC, free tuition, free textbooks and exercise books, free infrastructure, free school uniforms for children from underprivileged homes and deprived communities, and a non-requirement of payment of fees for such activities as sports and culture.
On 'Second Cycle Education'
We will continue with the system of free tuition for all students and introduce a free textbook scheme as well over time.
On 'Tertiary Education'
We shall apply ourselves diligently to the problem of the Polytechnics.
We shall turn our attention to the problem of HND grading and placement in jobs - we shall consider the report of the Committee set up by the NPP Government to study the problem and if we find their recommendations appropriate, implement them.
On 'Teacher Education'
We shall sponsor a Teacher Education Bill that will seek to create a Teachers' Council to have oversight responsibility for all Teacher Training institutions, the coordination of the training of teachers, and their placement in the educational system.
On 'Non-Formal Education'
We shall resurrect our policy of opening opportunities for adult literacy by pursuing vigorously our programme for non-formal education, so crudely and ill advisedly interrupted by the NPP Government.
On 'Education 'Brain Drain'
As part of a major exercise to attract and retain teachers, lecturers and health sector professionals, the NDC is studying a proposal to take these professional groups out of the Ghana Universal Salary Structure (GUSS) and provide them with a remuneration system designed to resolve the 'brain drain' problem once and for all.
On 'Students Loan Scheme'
We shall redesign and rationalise the Students' Loan Scheme, which will be extended to include students in private tertiary institutions.
The NDC reaffirms its position that educational opportunity is a right and not a privilege, and its firm and uncompromising belief in “education for all”.
On 'Health Infrastructure'
We shall resume the programme for the establishment of a modern Regional Hospital for each region. Given the present state of regional spread, Koforidua, Bolgatanga and Wa are the regional capitals next in line for modern regional hospitals.
On the 'National Health Insurance Scheme'
We will review the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and based on the pilot projects conducted when we were in office, we will implement a revised NHIS without the 2.5% workers' SSNIT contribution deductions and without the 2.5% VAT increase.
On 'Housing the People'
Our housing policy will include the direct involvement of the Central Government and District Assemblies in the provision of housing while providing the opportunity and creating the environment for individuals to own their own homes.
On 'Employment and Job Creation'
We will launch a major housing and public works scheme involving urban and drainage construction and environmental sanitation that will engage our youth and other unemployed artisans with housing and construction skills.
We propose to create large commercial farms and plantations of 50,000 hectares or more that will each have a minimum of 1,000 “employees” and “volunteers” who will live in “villages” of between 200 and 300 people and will cultivate food and cash crops suitable for the area and soil, consumables, and undertake poultry and livestock rearing.
On 'Social Security'
We will discuss with labour their demand for more attractive retirement and pension benefits while seeking an improvement in the current SSNIT social security scheme.
We shall construct “dormitories” for the homeless and street dwellers, especially the youth, in close collaboration with appropriate NGOs who may be engaged to manage the facilities.
On 'Water for Survival'
“Water is life and must be freely available as the air we breathe. Potable water must therefore be available, accessible and affordable, if it must be sold at all”.
The NDC will establish a “Water Fund” that will be utilised to support any water production and distribution system that will be finally adopted after consultations with the stakeholders to ensure that minimum water will be available and affordable to all.
An NDC Government will therefore renew its support for transport organisations such as the GPRTU and PROTOA in the acquisition, operation and maintenance of buses and other means of mass transportation.
On 'Women's Empowerment'
We accept generally the objectives of the “Women's Manifesto for Ghana” published in April 2004 which are the achievement of gender equality and equity and national development.
We will work with the sponsors of the Manifesto to incorporate its key demands in the NDC's “Affirmative Action Policy for Women” document, first issued in 1999 and to be revised and implemented upon assuming office in 2005.
On “The Children are Vulnerable”
Because women and gender issues are directly related to power and power relations in society and in the distribution of resources, while children's issues are related more to welfare and protection from explanation on account of their vulnerability, we shall separate sector responsibility for children from that of women.
On “Mobilising the Youth”
The next NDC Government will re-establish the Ministry of Youth and Sports. It is the worldwide trend and it served the nation well in the past.
On 'Sports - Participating to Win'
That Ministry will pursue our sports policy of concentrating on the development and provision of sports infrastructure, the spotting of sporting talents and the insistence that we participate in sports to win and not for the sake of participation.
As a specific football objective, we are determined to ensure that the Black Stars, the national football team, qualify for the Football World Cup in Germany in 2006.
On 'The Disabled and the Aged'
In 2000, we promised new national policies on the Disabled as well as the Aged. We have the opportunity in 2005 to do so.
On 'Making our Roads Vehicle-Worthy
We shall tackle and if possible complete the four main Highway Corridors that we identified under the Project, namely:
The Trans-ECOWAS Coastal Highway from Aflao toElubo traversing Tema-Accra-Winneba-Mankessim-Cape Coast-Takoradi;
(ii) The Eastern Corridor from Tema through Asikuma-Jasikan-Nkwanta-Yendi-Nalerigu-Kulungugu;
(iii) The Western Corridor from Elubo-Asikuma-Asemkrom-Enchi-Goaso-Sunyani-Bamboi-Bole-Wa-Hamile; and
(iv) The Central Spine traversing Accra-Kumasi-Techiman-Tamale-Bolgatanga-Paga.
On a 'Ministry of Transportation'
In order to ensure a holistic transportation strategy, the next NDC Government will abolish the recently established Ministry of Railways, Ports and Harbours and merge its functions and those of the existing Transport section of the Ministry of Roads and Transport into one Ministry of Transportation.
On 'Information and Communication Technology
The next NDC Government will push for the rapid development of the country's ICT infrastructure, including the establishment of a reliable national backbone with capacity to carry high-speed voice, video, data, and Internet facilities to all districts of the country.
On 'Urban Planning and Development'
We will design new urban interventions for the newly created urban centres under the Local Government (Urban, Zonal and Town Councils and Unit Committees) (Establishment)
(Amendment) Instrument, 2003, L. I. 1726.
On 'Law and Order'
We will set up a new and truly non-partisan, professionally competent and independent Presidential Commission to reopen investigations into the murder of the Ya Na, Yakubu Andani II and his followers in March 2002. Nevertheless, we pledge to work to ensure a durable and sustainable peace in Dagbon based on justice and fair play and by a strenuous de-politicisation of the Dagbon crisis.
On 'The Decentralisation Agenda'
We shall take seriously the outstanding issues of decentralisation, in particular the establishment of the decentralised departments, decentralised planning, fiscal decentralisation and the composite budget system in order to move the decentralisation agenda and accelerate the pace of its implementation.
On 'An Anti-Corruption Crusade'
Our anti-corruption crusade will not have any place for the self-serving Office of Accountability set up by the NPP Government and which is perceived more as a protective device to shield corrupt NPP officials of state. We shall accordingly abolish that Office.
On 'Human Rights for Human Dignity'
For the NDC therefore, the most basic human rights are the necessities for existence - food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care, security of life and property, work and the opportunity to live and develop in peace and dignity, and we shall work towards the attainment of all these.
It is therefore our pledge that under the next NDC administration, there will be no political vengeance, there will be no political vendetta, and there will be no political vindictiveness.
We shall also take steps to review the law on “causing financial loss” and other laws especially of military regimes whose selective application have generated political controversy in order to ensure that they will no longer be resorted to for the purpose of settling political scores.
On 'The Media - The Fourth Estate of the “Republic”
A conscious effort will be made to ensure that members of the NDC Government have regular interaction with the media to facilitate the flow of information. In this regard, we make a pledge for greater openness, transparency and accessibility.
The career progression and development of journalists will engage our attention, and a programme of sponsorship of journalists for further courses will be embarked upon.
Work will commence on a permanent new campus for the Ghana Institute of Journalism at its new site.
On 'Chieftaincy - A Sacred Institution'
We shall support the National House of Chiefs and all Regional Houses of Chiefs to play effective roles in the development efforts of the country and their respective traditional areas.
On 'Our Cultural Heritage'
The new NDC Government shall see to the completion of all abandoned or suspended regional Centres of National Culture and commence a programme for establishing fully functional Centres of National Culture in all the district capitals.
On 'Foreign Policy'
The NDC shall redefine the country's original African-centred foreign policy bequeathed to the nation by the founding fathers with its focus on West African integration as a prerequisite to African Unity.
We pledge to honour all our legitimate international obligations, both contractual and consensual, and irrespective of which governments entered into them in the past.
Mills' Delegation Briefs Ga Chiefs
PRIOR to their departure for Kumasi for the launch of the Party's Manifesto, an NDC delegation led by the flagbearer, Prof. J.E. Atta-Mills, last Tuesday, met with the Ga Traditional Council to brief them about the launch and give them an overview of the Manifesto.
Leading the discussion, Prof. Mills stated that the Manifesto was a product of Accra as the team that put it together was based in Accra and the document itself was written in Accra.
He asked for the spiritual guidance of the chiefs as they embark on their journey to Kumasi.
Briefing the chiefs on the Manifesto, the General Secretary of the NDC, Dr Nii Josiah Aryeh, explained that based on its social democratic philosophy, the NDC Manifesto has policies and programmes which are caring and compassionate, which are in keeping with the principle of each being his brother's keeper.
He referred to the section of the Manifesto on education which stress the FCUBE and which also give prominence to tertiary education.
The NDC Director of Research, Mr Kwamena Ahwoi, expatiated on the section of the Manifesto that emphasise the special incentives to be given to the fishing industry and also the section on chieftaincy and culture, including the pre-eminent role to be accorded the National House of Chiefs and Regional House of Chiefs in that regard.
He reminded the chiefs that with effect from Sunday, August 1,2004, the prices of most goods and services will go up as a result of the increase in the VAT rate, which the NPP Government calls the NHIL, from 12½% to 15%, commenting on the irony whereby the very means of keeping our people healthy are being eroded in order to find health care.
Other members of the NDC delegation included Hon. E. T. Mensah, MP for Ningo-Prampram and a Vice-Chairman of the Party, Joshua Alabi, Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the Party, the NDC MP for Nkwanta District, as well as the NDC parliamentary candidate for the Korley Klottey Krowor and Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituencies.
Prof. John Evans Atta Mills