President J. A. Kufuor has made a plea for forgiveness from all those who might have been wronged by his administration.He declared: “During these past four hectic years, some mistakes have been made and very likely some toes stepped upon. I reach out to those who may have been wronged and ask for forgiveness.”
Addressing delegates to the annual conference of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Kumasi on Saturday, President Kufuor extended a hand of friendship to all, saying that before the campaign got into full gear, this was probably a suitable time to bring all on board. “Let us rally together at this time as we recognise that our common cause of uplifting Ghana is greater than any one of us,” he said.
President Kufuor, who thanked the party supporters for their support and endurance, also asked all Ghanaians, including those opposed to the government, “to join with us, because we are moving with a vision that is not partisan. A vision that will propel our country into greatness and prosperity for all.”
The President used the platform to respond to remarks by his critics that he had failed to check corruption, by saying, “I do claim that there is a far less corruption in government now than ever before because of this resolve.”He said he had occasion to address his commitment to his government's policy of Zero Tolerance for Corruption, adding that “today it is enough to say we have taken concrete steps to institutionalise our resolve to contain and nip corruption in the public life.
President Kufuor added that “the new Procurement Law, the Internal Audit Act and the Office of Accountability would reinforce the traditional agencies like the police, the Judiciary, CHRAJ and SFO. They are all together part of this process of fighting corruption.”
He said the people of Ghana would be the best judges of the stewardship of his administration and indications were that the people had already said it loud and clear that the government had delivered on its promise. The President reminded the people of the early days of his regime, when certain persons said government would not go beyond the first year “ but we took the responsibility of ensuring the security of both the state and the individual and seriously worked hard to rebuild the confidence of the people.”
He said after securing the state, the government tackled the critical economic and social problems, saying that at the time the government came to power the country's reserves could not even cover three weeks, but today the reserves could keep us going for more than four months.
President Kufuor said to get to this stage, the government had to take hard decisions which were guided by the long term interests of the nation and not by any desire to inflict suffering, nor see any political advantage. He recalled the furore that emerged as a result of the adoption of the HIPC initiative and said the criticism of the initiative even led to his neighbourhood acquiring the nickname “HIPC Junction” but today everyone acknowledged that it was a wise decision.
“Some of the bitterest critics of HIPC are now the loudest in their clamour for HIPC funds for their constituencies,” he said.President Kufuour said HIPC was only a stop-gap policy designed to give the country a breathing space and allow the government to mop up scarce resources to tackle the financial and social mess.
He said the government had achieved the progress in all the social sectors, saying that roads were being built, long neglected and dilapidated classrooms were coming back to life, health care was receiving much attention, communication network was being modernised, the police had been equipped to do their work and the private sector had received a shot in the arm and was gingering up to lead the acceleration of economic growth.
The President spoke about the entrenchment of rule of law, while good governance had become a by-word making Ghana the toast of the international community, adding that “ freedom of speech is enjoyed by all, even those abused by a few disgruntled elements within the society”.
He said the achievements of the government did not come by chance as it took a government that believed in the tenets of democracy to achieve these results, saying that “ it is only where these freedoms flourish that people have that self-confidence, which makes business grow for prosperity to f.President Kufuor said he spoke about wealth creation not as a dream, but something that could be achieved and said the government had taken steps to diversify the economy through the launch of the President's Special Initiatives (PSIs).
On the economic revival, the President said his recent visit to the operations of Newmont Mines in the Brong Ahafo Region indicated that the company, within a short period, was transforming the economy of the area. He said the government, through the PSI, had turned cassava into a sophisticated money spinner and said as oil palm, sorghum, cotton, rice and salt also follow suit “the next four years would see even more vigorous activity in the transformation of Ghana's natural resources into employment opportunities and wealth created by the people.
President Kufuor re-affirmed his government's commitment to the private sector as a the engine of growth, by maintaining that the appropriate atmosphere would be assured through good governance and the rule of law.