General News of Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
President John Dramani Mahama says despite the turbulence that has confronted his administration so far, he remains focused on delivering on the promises made to Ghanaians.
He said his main preoccupation now was how to provide adequate power and water, grow the economy and create jobs for the people.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic Tuesday on his 100 days in office, President Mahama declined to grade his performance and indicated that Ghanaians would be the best judges of his performance.
About the low grading of his performance by some organisations, including IMANI Ghana, which had graded him 47 per cent, he said it was a good grade, considering the turbulence facing his administration.
The President said every democratic government was given about six months to put up its government but his administration did not have that luxury.
That, he said, was aggravated by an opposition which wanted to make things difficult for the government.
President Mahama said the challenges with electricity, water and labour unrest were to test the resolve of a leader and expressed gratitude to God for the experience he had gained from that.
He said his priority now was to solve the energy problem.
“I am on the energy producers, making sure that we end this energy crisis as soon as possible,” he said.
The President said the next focus was to reform the management of the water company to ensure efficiency, cut down waste and ensure regular supply of water.
Additionally, he said, his government would continue to pursue policies to grow the economy and create more jobs for the people.
“I am focused on doing my work. The people of Ghana have given me the mandate. I was sworn in as the constitutional President. My focus is to ensure that Ghanaians have power, they have water, they have jobs and that this economy prospers,” he said.
On the economy, he said the government was changing the structure of how government financed infrastructure development.
“We want to look at how to partner the private sector to develop that infrastructure. It is going to reduce our debt profile to make sure that we maintain economic stability,” he said.
He said Ghanaians would realise that despite the turbulence, the government had laid the foundation for the take-off of the economy.
On ministerial appointments, President Mahama said his biggest challenge, as he had to pick from a pool of experienced and competent hands, was how to consider regional and gender balance in his appointments.
He defended his decision to reshuffle regional ministers, saying that the best performing regional ministers in the past were not from their regions.
He said he wanted the regions to choose their best and, therefore, he consulted the regional caucuses.
He explained that if the appointees were qualified to be regional ministers in one region, they should be qualified to be ministers in other regions.
He refuted suggestions that some of the ministers were inexperienced and indicated that the youth must be given the opportunity to participate in the governance process of the country.
On the current labour unrest, President Mahama said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government inherited the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).
He said from hindsight, the implementation should have been spread over more years, as it had increased the government’s wage bill.
“Once we deal with salaries and wages, there is not much left for other development sectors such as education, health and all that will make life more bearable for our people,” he said.
On the payment of huge sums of money to Members of Parliament, President Mahama said the salaries of Article 71 office holders, including the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, were determined by a committee set up by the President.
He said so long as it remained a constitutional provision, he would be going against the Constitution if he refused MPs or judges what had been recommended by the committee.
He explained that the MPs were not paid lump sums but that the ex gratia, which included arrears, was paid in instalments.
President Mahama said he supported the consensus and recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee for the amendment of Article 71 to bring everybody on the same plane.
He proposed the setting up of an independent emoluments committee to look at emoluments right from the President to the ordinary labourer.
“Once it is done, everyone will feel a sense of fairness in terms of how much he or she is remunerated. When they are put on the same plane, it will take away the extortion,” he said.
He affirmed his commitment to ensure that doctors, teachers and all workers were properly remunerated for the work they did.
On the court action challenging his legitimacy, President Mahama said it was not a bother to him, since it was part of the country’s democratic process.
He said the Constitution had made provision for people who were not satisfied with elections to seek redress in the court.
He said he did not have any worries because he had confidence in the fairness of the elections.