Parliament yesterday began debating the state of the Nation Address presented to the House by President John Evans Atta Mills last week with the Majority touting the achievements of the government, while the Minority said the state of the nation was bleak and as dark as night.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Asawase, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, who moved the motion for the House to thank the President, said the president should be commended for fulfilling his constitutional duty to deliver the state of the Nation Address to Parliament.
He said the theme of the address, ’’still a Better Ghana”, indicated that though the President had achieved enough during the last three years, he was not complacent but poised to do more to better the living condition of the people.
He stated that within three years of the current administration, so much had been achieved, to the extent that the achievement of all past government since independence within their first three years of administration could not march those of the current NDC administration.
He said in the fact of those achievements, the President did not only need to be commended but also give another mandate by the people to continue with his good policies and programmers.
Aihaji Muntaka debunked the assertion by the Minority that the President’s address did not depict the true state of the nation, explaining that the address touched on the basic need of the people.
He said a lot of inroads had been made in the agricultural sector through mechanisation and explained that before the NDC took over in 2009, the country was only producing 30 per cent of its rice but that had been increased to 50 per cent, while the production of yam, maize, among other food crops, had been improved.
Alhaji Muntake referred to the government’s policy to provide seedlings free of charge to all cocoa farmers and explained that the policy was aimed at sustaining the one million metric tones of the crop that the country produced last year, in addition to making Ghana the number one producer of cocoa in the future.
On the educational front, he stated that in just three years 1,700 classroom blocks had been constructed for use by schools which hitherto held class under trees, while as many as 672 classroom and dormitory block were being constructed to correct the effects of the unplanned four-year senior high school (SSS) duration.
On the proposed free SSS education by the NPP should it win power this year, Alhaji Muntaka said the Mills adminstration would rather set up more community SSS and provide them with the need infrastructure to make SSS education accessible to all by 2015.
On health, he stated that several health facilities were being constructed, while the president had also called for dialogue on the funding of the National Health Insurance Scheme, since the current funding was a lot of challenges.
Seconding the motion the MP for Wenchi, Professor George Gyan-Banffour, said he was doing so because the practice of the House required that the motion be seconded by a member from the Minority and not because he endorsed the President’s assertion that the state of the nation was stable and in reasonably good heath.
He asserted that the President deviated from presenting a state of the nation address but rather succeeded in giving ‘’a litany of what has been catalogued in the budget, such as schools under trees, roads constructed, bore holed constructed, among other.’’
‘’Madam Speaker, a state of the nation address, in my view, should be a statement of conditions in which we find ourselves as a nation; a barometer of the social, economic and political environment of society. It should be about how the people feel, their joy, their pain, whether their hopes and aspirations are being met and how to meet these aspirations if they have not been met,’’ he said.
He said the president failed to assess the mood of society and convince the people that he was in charge of affairs and could improve on conditions of life.
Prof Gyan-Baffour, who was a Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning in the kufuor administration, explained that currently the country was highly polarised and divided, adding that the “recent events of blatant theft from state coffers have opened a window into the government of this country and point to the lack of control by the president over the affairs of the state.’’
He said instead of bridging the gap, the President succeeded in further dividing the country through what he called the “Ashanti project’’ and stated that Ghanaians would blame him should any violence occur in the Ashanti Region during the 2012 elections.
On the economy, Prof. Gyan-Baffour argued that it was not true the economy grew by 14 per cent, as stated by the President in his address, and explained that economic growth in 2011, even with the oil, dropped to 12 per cent in September 2011.
Again, without oil, the growth in 2011, as recently revised, was 8.2 per cent, lower than the growth rate of 8.2 per cent in 2008, he said.
He added that the cedi was on a downward spiral, with the Bank of Ghana considering to officially sell dollars every week, having already sold 4.1 billion of the country’s foreign reserves last year in order to stabilize the weak cedi which had been described as the second worse performing currency against the dollar in Africa.
On health, Pro. Gyan-Baffour asked who the President wanted to dialogue with on the financing of the NHIS in his address.
“Now the question is, who is he going to dialogue with and whose consensus does he need Ithought he is in charge. What a 360-degree detour from the manifesto pledge,’’ the MP stated.
Source: Daily Graphic