...Ghana reaps highest-ever cocoa revenue ... Ghana realising truth of good governance Accra, Jan. 4, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday described his tenure of office as successful and commended governance partners and the people of Ghana for their contribution to the success story. President Kufuor, who catalogued the achievements of his Administration when he delivered his State of the Nation Address to Parliament, said: "The term, that is ending within the next three days, has been successful and I must acknowledge the contributions of all stakeholders: Government, Parliament and the entire citizenry of Ghana." The address is in fulfilment of Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution, which mandates the President to give account of his stewardship at the end of his term of office. "There is no doubt that during the term, leadership has been bold and effective. Parliament has been vibrant, responsible and productive; and has kept Government alert and on its toes. "Within Parliament, the majority and the minority have worked together to enhance the concept of multi-party democracy. The people of Ghana have also shown remarkable commitment to protect and uphold the nation's Constitution." In his 65-minute address, President Kufuor categorised his achievements under the five priority areas through which his Administration advanced the country's socio economic fortunes, saying: "We have made great strides in all spheres of our national endeavour." The areas are infrastructure development; modernising agriculture; enhancing social services with focus on improving education and health care, good governance and private sector development. Ghana reaps highest-ever cocoa revenue - Kufuor Accra, Jan. 4, GNA - Ghana earned a record 1.1 billion dollars from its cocoa exports last year, President John Agyekum Kufuor announced on Tuesday. The country also had its biggest cocoa harvest in history, over 700,000 tonnes, last year, he told the country in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament. President Kufuor said the record-setting yield was the result of the mass spraying and the introduction of high-tech in cocoa production policies of the Government. These, coupled with the upturn in the prices on the international commodity market, yielded the record 1.1 billion dollars in revenue. "I doff my hat to our illustrious farmers, researchers, extension officers, and all those who have contributed to achieving this noble feat." President Kufuor noted that researchers around the globe had recently taken to publishing findings about the crop's nutritional, health enhancing and other aphrodisiac properties. These, he said, justified why the original owners, the red Indians of America appropriately called it the food of the gods. "Apparently, it is the best food there is, and Ghanaians must, therefore, begin to use more of it locally." President Kufuor said agriculture, which was his Government's second priority area, continued to be the mainstay of the economy in terms of food requirement, revenue and employment generation. Appropriately, Government was paying particular attention to the sector to enhance its efficiency and productivity. He said Government was supporting the sector through research, supply of improved seeds and other inputs like extension services, irrigation, storage and marketing. "Steps are also being taken to reduce the drudgery in farming and make the sector more attractive to the youth through the policy of mechanisation." President Kufuor said last year, over 1,000 tractors were imported for sale at subsidised prices to farmers and these measures partly accounted for the abundant food supplies in the market even during the off season. He said a new feature on the agricultural front is the Presidential Special Initiative, which was aimed at diversifying agriculture, increasing exports and generating employment. At the moment, crops being tackled are cassava and oil palm and the initiative would be extended to cotton and sorghum this year. President Kufuor recalled that his Administration inherited a weak economy, characterised by a free-falling currency, huge external and domestic debts with only six days crude oil reserves to fuel the economy. Additionally, he noted, the rate of inflation was over 40 per cent and lending and interest rates were about 50 per cent. However, through the implementation of sound macro-economic policies and the payment of realistic prices for petroleum products and utility services significant successes had been chalked. He stressed: "Our long stagnant and drifting economy has been stabilised and is now poised for accelerated growth and development. There is peace and security. The future is bright." President Kufuor said in spite of these remarkable achievements, there had been far too much cynicism in the body-politic and this had been so strongly voiced and promoted through the media by some elements within the political divide, to such an extent that some members of the society were doubting even the obvious and tangible achievements which surround them everywhere. "It its critical that we the citizens, the true beneficiaries of positive change, must begin to shed this cynicism." On infrastructure development, President Kufuor said about 3,350 kilometres of feeder roads were constructed or improved in the rural areas each year. Additionally, a total of 333.6 billion cedis was spent on routine maintenance over the years. Major developmental work on the Accra - Aflao, Accra - Kumasi and Accra Yamoransa were on course, he said. On education, President Kufuor said huge investments were made to improve infrastructure for basic, secondary and tertiary institutions to enhance quality education. "More than 3,000 three-unit classroom blocks have been built throughout the country. These classrooms have been fully furnished with offices for teachers, libraries and places of convenience." He mentioned some of the interventions made to modernise agriculture, which included the importation of 1,000 tractors, which were subsidised and sold to farmers. The transportation sector also received a boost with 500 buses, which were imported and shared across the country to improve public transport. President Kufuor ended his address with a call for the observance of a minute's silence for the victims of the tsunami disaster that had claimed more than 150,000 lives in South East Asia and East Africa and five Members of Parliament, who lost their lives during the four years. Ghana realising truth of good governance - Kufuor Accra, Jan. 4, GNA - Ghana is realising the truth that good governance is the critical underpinning of stability, peace and economic development of countries all over the world, President John Agyekum Kufuor said on Tuesday.
He said in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament that most Ghanaians and visitors to the country confirmed that good governance, which was another priority of the government, was being practised in the country.
"It cannot be denied that over the past for years, the rule of law is assuming centre stage of our society with enhanced respect for the freedoms of speech and movement."
President Kufuor said the institutions of state such as the Legislature, Judiciary, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Serious Fraud Office and National Commission for Civic Education were becoming more and more vigorous.
He said the Government had tried to make appropriate budgetary allocations to all these institutions.
Allocation to Parliament had increased about four times since he assumed office in 2001, although the situation was far from ideal, President Kufuor said. President Kufuor noted that one of the key indicators that good governance was being practised was the awakening and participation of key stakeholders like civil society organisations, especially the media, in national governance. "Evidence is everywhere that in Ghana today individuals, institutions and organisations are all alert to the performance of government. "In fact, ownership of the polity is being exercised by all the stakeholders as has been displayed by the 'the power of the thumb - kokromoti power' during the recent election and also by the freely-expressed opinions heard on the myriads of FM stations all over the country all day. "This is a good development except that the exercise of these rights must be balanced with a heightened sense of responsibility for the nation's welfare." President Kufuor said all these interactions among the stakeholders were contributing to the healthy environment, which is defining Ghana as the beacon of peace and democracy in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Sub-Region. Governance On women and children, he said the government was pursuing with greater vigour interventions for empowering women with technical and financial support to play a more active role in the nation's wealth creation programmes as well as in education and other social and political fields.
President Kufuor noted that women and children had been traditionally handicapped over the years.
"There have been agencies and organisations, which have been trying to champion their causes over the years. The new Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs institutionalises these efforts in a systematised, sustained and more effecive manner right at the centre of government."