General News of Friday, 6 October 2017
Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says his life has been about having big dreams for the poor but his attempts to actualise those aspirations have been met with sharp criticisms every step of the way.
“I have always been criticised in whatever I do in Ghana,” he told a cheering crowd in Bolgatanga, the Upper East regional capital, when he began a two-day tour of the region with a durbar of traditional authorities. “But that’s alright. I’m comfortable with that.”
He dropped the comments whilst justifying his appointment of Kweku Agyemang-Manu as the Minister for Health— a decision he flaunted as not only apt but also timely for a “near-collapsed” health insurance scheme he said was bequeathed to him by the Mahama Administration.
“One of the great things that my former boss, John Agyekum Kufuor, did when he was that excellent president of our country was the National Health Insurance Scheme that he left to us. Unfortunately, in the hands of his [successors] that scheme fell into disrepair. When we came to office, it had almost collapsed and the ‘cash and carry’ was coming back. The ‘cash and carry’ was coming back because the scheme could no longer finance itself. I met a debt of 1.2 billion cedis on the NHIS.
“Then, I decided how I was going to approach the matter. I said I wanted to have somebody in the Ministry of Health who knew figures, who was good with figures, an economist, an accountant, not a doctor or a professor of medicine. I was criticised again. In the space of 8 months, the man I appointed, Kweku Agyemang-Manu, brilliant economist and accountant, has been able, by virtue of judicious management of the resources and honest management of the resources at his disposal, to pay 560 million cedis out of the 1.2 billion cedis. And today, today, payments on the National Health Insurance Scheme are current. There are no longer any arrears being built up in the system. That is why the NHIS has begun to work again and it will continue like that,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
I need your support to end smuggling – President
President Akufo-Addo heaped emphasis on the “Planting for Food and Jobs Programme” among the flagship initiatives introduced so far by his government, saying it was one of the surest ways of revolutionising agriculture in the country.
But he identified the menace of fertiliser smuggling, perpetuated mostly through unapproved routes into neighbouring West African states, as a threat to the country’s food security measures.
“Eminent traditional rulers, all of us know in this world that whenever something good is happening, there will always be a few greedy evil people who would want to subvert the good things for their personal selfish gains. I refer to these people who are smuggling some of our fertiliser across the border to make money because the fertiliser in Ghana is now so cheap.
“I need your help. I need the help of you and your community to keep an eye out and cooperate with the law enforcement agencies to stop the smuggling. And when you pick those who are responsible for fertiliser smuggling, we are going to have the law deal with them accordingly. It is important that we don’t allow a few people to spoil a good thing for the majority of us,” he stressed.
Akufo-Addo visits dam projects Thursday
The President confirmed he intended to inspect the Tamne Irrigation Dam (still under construction) in the Garu-Tempane District and the Vea Irrigation Dam (which needs rehabilitation) on Thursday.
Work on the dams, according to him, is necessary in order to boost water supply for domestic use and for agricultural purposes among other benefits. He is also expected to inspect the ongoing Bolgatanga-Bawku-Pulmakon Road project Thursday.
“I’m inspecting them tomorrow. The Vea Dam is a poorly water-supplied dam. A decision is being taken. The Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, fortunately for all of you in this region, is one of you. So, you can be sure that issues to do with water in the Upper East are going to be given the highest and most immediate attention,” he said.
The President also inspected the ongoing expansion work at the Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga Wednesday night.