BY ROSEMOND BOATENG ADDAI
PRESIDENT NANA Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo has stated that a lot of hard work had gone into easing the intolerable debt situation that threatened to paralyse the energy industry.
According to him, the country still has problems with the cost of power, and his government is working to put Ghana at a competitive advantage.
“We intend to find private sector operators to buy into the state-owned thermal plants, and inject the capital needed to bring power tariffs down for both domestic and commercial consumers,” he stated when he gave his second State of the Nation Address in Parliament yesterday.
President Akufo-Addo also stated that the agric sector was the backbone of government’s 1-District-1-Factory programme.
According to him, majority of the proposals that have been evaluated and accepted for support under the scheme are agro-based.
“It is food processing after all that has been the take-off point for industrialisation in most developed societies. It also fits in with our determination to open up our country, and make jobs and facilities available in all parts of the country,” he explained.
The President said this year the One-Village-One-Dam project will commence.
He said it is a simple, low-tech project, but these dams would make a big difference in the lives of farmers.
According to him, “already, many of the little dams that have been abandoned have been rehabilitated and brought back to use. A deliberate and specific intervention to help farmers is paying off.
“Our farmers can see that the government is putting resources to back up the usual words. The 50% subsidy on fertiliser, and the increase in the provision of extension services, is making a great difference to the performance of agriculture,” he stated.
Under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ scheme, President Akufo-Addo said Ghana was witnessing a fresh interest in farming.
He added that success of the first year had encouraged his government to increase the scope of the programme, and, this year, “some half a million farmers would be signed on, up from the figure of two hundred thousand.”
On fisheries, President Akufo-Addo said, last year, his government made sure that the close season was respected not just by the industrial tuna vessels, but, also, by the trawlers.
He said “we will adhere to this policy for the foreseeable future, which should help us replenish our depleted stocks. More effective measures are being taken against illegal, unreported and unregulated methods of fishing.
“I can state that, since November, there has been no report of premix diversion, a marked improvement from the past. We have identified 100 dams in five regions across the country – Upper East, Upper West, Northern, Volta and Western – and stocked them with fingerlings. This is the start of big things to come,” he explained.
The President said his government had put in place the structures to help small and medium scale enterprises and budding entrepreneurs through the challenging start-up years.
According to him, the availability of cheaper credit is good news for business in general, and means better prospects for jobs.
He said “government” has established the Nation Builders Corps to employ 100,000 young persons, in 2018 alone, to assist in public sector service delivery in health, education, agriculture, sanitation and the revenue collection department of the Ghana Revenue Authority.”
President Akufo-Addo said they have launched the Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship Programme at the Accra Digital Centre.
According to him, the programme, with 10 regional training centres, has already recruited 3,000 young, unemployed people, to undergo a three-month all-expenses-paid training.
“I am happy to announce that Ecobank Ghana Limited has already offered to engage all 3,000 young people, after the training programme. This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he added.