Prez Asks All To Pay A Little More For Power

John-Dramani-MahamaPresident John Mahama has underscored the need for Ghanaians to accept to pay a little more for electricity, as it has become necessary for the nation to avoid a relapse into the ‘dum so dum so’ phenomenon.

He said the current inadequate supply of gas from the West African Gas Pipeline meant that the country had to import light crude oil at a great expense to generate power.

Hinting, however, of relief on the horizon, President Mahama indicated that the hike in utility prices was only temporary, stressing that the Ghana Gas project at Atuabo would be ready next year, to ease the situation.

Addressing regional and constituency executives of the NDC in Tamale, in the Northern Region, on Saturday, President Mahama said the government was awaiting the recommendations of the technical working group set up to recommend measures to lessen the effects of the new tariffs on domestic and industrial users of utility services.

“The technical committee is expected to present its report to the government this week. We will wait for the report and see,” the President stated.

Government has already hinted of its intention to come up with a strategy to target strategic sectors with interventions, following the tariff increment of 78.9 per  cent for electricity and 52 per cent for water by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) at a news conference last Tuesday, gave the government a 10-day ultimatum to reduce the tariff increment by the PURC to one-third or face an industrial action by Organised Labour.

The tariff hikes have also come under heavy criticism from groups like the Association of Ghana Industries, Ghana Medical Association, some civil society organisations and political parties, who cite the huge burden the increases place on Ghanaians.

President Mahama told the party executives and foot soldiers that, “This is all temporary, we have had to tighten the system a bit to address short-term economic challenges.”

He said the eight-month long presidential election petition at the Supreme Court slowed economic growth, stressing that because of the uncertainties, development partners who had pledged monies held back, pending the outcome of the court case.

“Now that our victory has been upheld by the Supreme Court, it is time to give effect to our mandate, we must not waste time, and we must begin to organise properly,” President Mahama stated.

He stressed the determination of his administration to implement the major projects he pledged during the electioneering campaign, including construction of the 200 community senior high schools.

In the face of the current economic constraints however, President Mahama said the government had made it a policy to initiate and complete priority projects first, adding that GH¢3 billion worth of projects were already in the pipeline and these would be completed before new ones were started.

President Mahama stressed the importance for the party followers and supporters to understand the vision of the government, which was to diversify the economy, with a special focus on value addition to the country’s natural resources.

“Let’s diversify the economy, add value to our products and let’s create internal jobs for our people, this is the vision of this government,” he said, adding that, “We must create new growth poles to address development disparities.”
The President cautioned that if the economy was not diversified and grown, it was bound to face problems taking into consideration the rate of population expansion.

He hinted that his administration would, next year, bring cabinet to the regions on a monthly basis, to enable the ministers of state and government functionaries to be better acquainted with development challenges in the regions.
The regional cabinet meetings would also involve inspection of ongoing development projects, interaction with the regional houses of chiefs, and interaction with executives of the NDC, the President said.

He disclosed that the General Secretary and other members of the party hierarchy would embark on an outreach programme across the country, to explain government policies, and galvanise their supporters to stand behind the government to enable it to achieve its mandate.

That, he said, would be followed with the ‘Thank You’ tours to express government’s appreciation to the citizenry for the confidence reposed in the government by renewing its mandate.

President Mahama would, afterwards, convene a meeting in Accra between the various district chief executives and parliamentarians, who failed to be endorsed or retain their seats, to discuss how their talents can be utilised for the cause of the party.

Political parties, he said, were not just vehicles to win elections. “They are meant to be day to day living organisations that support government and also provide ideological anchoring to members in the grassroots.”

President Mahama hinted of plans to register members of the NDC, expansion of the Electoral College to enable more people to have a say in those who lead them. He advised the party to treat foot soldiers with respect.

He also urged the people to work together with the district chief executives, who are representatives of the President in the districts, while advising the DCEs against becoming tin gods, saying, “All that our people want is respect, humility and modesty.”    –  Samuel Nuamah & Yakubu Abdul-Majeed, Tamale

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