Rt. Honourable Speaker of Parliament,
Her Ladyship Chief Justice,
Ministers of State,
Members of Parliament,
Your Excellencies, Dean and Members of the Diplomatic Corp,
This is a day on which we pay homage to the daughters and sons of Ghana whose vision and tenacity of purpose won us our independence.
Foremost amongst them was Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who has left an indelible impression on world history and was rightly chosen as the topmost African Personality of the 20th Century at the last millennium.
I congratulate the parade commander, officers and men of the security agencies, students, and all identifiable groups who formed this parade.
You have put up a splendid performance befitting the occasion and the nation is proud of you.
Fellow Ghanaians, our nation is blessed with so much even if things do not always go the way we want.
The qualities of our human resources alone exemplify the country’s huge potential.
Everywhere in the world the creativity, talent and the professional expertise of the Ghanaian is not in doubt.
The world reveres our sports team especially the Black Stars.
Across the world when it comes to Democracy and Political Stability, we stand tall and we must be proud of such an enviable feat.
The theme for this year’s celebration “Unity and Peace; Pillars For National Development” could not be more apt considering the extent to which a wrong step during the last election could have moved us forward in the wrong direction.
Indeed, yesterday I presented awards to deserving students, the message of the youth to us leaders, is, nothing but a cry for a peaceful and united Ghana.
And my solemn pledge to the youth of Ghana is that Atta Mills and his government will do everything possible to make sure that Ghana remains a haven of peace and unity.
The rich talents and rich human qualities given to us by God will enable us overcome the challenges posed by the global economic downturn and our inadequacies in the management of the nation’s economy.
This administration does not intent to parade scapegoats or seek refuge in excuses.
We will focus on the things that matter and which will enable the economy recover some degree of stability.
We will do this in collaboration with organised labour, the business community and with industry.
We count on the good will and understanding of all Ghanaians as we engage each other in a more civil and collaborative manner to build the kind of Better Ghana we all want.
Our goal as government is to strengthen Ghana’s position as a magnet for investment in productive ventures to create jobs for our youth.
We aim for efficiency in our governance process for creating a business climate that will rank very high; investing in infrastructure to open up the country; a health care system that provides for all; providing quality teachers in a highly improved schools system; providing good drinking water for the people; and in making Ghana a much safer place for the citizenry.
My brothers and sisters I have assured you in the past that an Atta Mills Government will not engage in political vendetta.
No amount of organised detraction or political barnstorming will break my resolve to chart a new course in the politics of this dear nation of ours.
It may take time for some to wake up to this new political reality but I hope eventually they will.
And those who know they are in the wrong must recognise that a contrite heart is more valued and better example than arrogance, bluster and confrontation.
As political leaders, we must also recognise that what we say or fail to say to our followers makes a lot of difference in how followers conduct themselves in national discourse.
I will not condone actions that will pitch one citizen against the other as a way of settling political scores.
That is unacceptable and will not be the Ghanaian way of doing things.
The Ghanaian way should be that, under the Rule of Law, and with the benchmark of due process, any violations of the laws of Ghana will be addressed in the manner that is fair, balanced, and right in the sight of God.
As a people, our greatest achievements have come when we have lived up to the ideals that unite rather than divide us and have attached ourselves to a common sense purpose. Let this day not just see us enjoying just the holiday part of it; let us find time to reflect on the way forward as we strive to build a Better Ghana.
We must reflect on the legacies that our forebears bequeathed to us; consider what we have added to that legacy, and commit ourselves to leaving a solid legacy for the generations after us.
And for the school children who have taken part in today’s parade as well as their colleagues all over the country, it is the commitment of the a NDC government to make sure that our term in office will see us restoring hope and confidence in the future.
On behalf of the government, I congratulate all of us for being part of the 52nd Independence Day Celebration and my prayer is that we will all resolve to commit ourselves to building Better Ghana.
Fellow Ghanaians, I thank you for your attention and may God continue to make our nation grater and stronger.
2. Inauguration Speech By President Professor John Evans Atta Mills Wednesday, 7th January 2009.
Madam Speaker,Vice-President John Dramani Mahama, Her Ladyship Chief Justice, Hon. Members of Parliament, Our Chiefs and Queen Mothers, My fellow Ghanaians.
I wish to begin by acknowledging the presence of my two predecessors; former President Jerry John Rawlings and former President John Agyekum Kufuor.
On behalf of our nation I salute you, Your Excellencies.
I recognize your invaluable experience and deep insight into matters of state and you will be important reference points during my tenure of office as President.
I wish to extend a special welcome to our distinguished guests who have traveled from far and near to witness this momentous occasion.
A short while ago I took the oath of office as the 3rd President of the 4th Republic.
With a grateful heart, I want to thank all Ghanaians for giving me the mandate to serve as President; you have changed the face of Presidency, Parliament and the political process itself. The least I can do is to work to your satisfaction and deliver on our promise for a better Ghana.
We have emerged from one of the most keenly contested elections in the history of our country. Our democracy has been tested to the utmost limit. Thanks to the steadfastness of the good people of Ghana, sovereign will has prevailed. We give thanks and praise to the Almighty.
At this moment of joyful celebration, I hear a call to duty and I make a pledge to you my brothers and sisters that I will strive to make a difference in the politics of our nation.
This is the dawn of a new era of change for a better Ghana. It is not change for change sake. It is a change in a new direction to enable us move forward with unity of purpose. Ours will be consensus driven agenda, and in building that consensus we will recognize the contribution of our compatriots in other political parties.
I have always said that I will be President for all Ghanaians whether they voted for me or not, and without consideration for which part of the country they come from.
It will be my duty as President to heal wounds and unite our dear nation. I intend to pursue relentlessly all avenues for entrenching peace and unity in all parts of the country as I am enjoined by the constitution to do.
We will not let the fear of crime rob law abiding citizens of their freedom. Improving the internal security situation will therefore be a top priority of the new Government so that Ghanaians can begin to feel safer in their homes and communities.
Our politics will not focus on power and privilege. On the contrary we will not forget the concerns of the Ghanaian people who want to see an improvement in their living conditions. Willingness to put personal advantage aside will therefore be one of the key demands on those who will serve in the Atta Mills government.
Honesty, fairness, compassion and sincerity will be the hallmark of my administration. I have no wish to carry out political vendetta of any kind.
The principles of accountability will be upheld. And the law will be allowed to take its course. We have a duty to ensure that our laws are administered without fear or favour, and to this end we must avoid the syndrome of one set of laws for one group and another for the others.
We, have a challenge to ensure that our laws work in a system that is blind to one's place in society, or ones political persuasion. We will do all in our power to ensure social justice, equity and equality under the laws of Ghana.
There is only one Ghana, and that Ghana must work in the interest of every Ghanaian.
I extend a hand of cooperation to members of the Judiciary, security services and public service. I remind them of their obligations to the state and urge them to be loyal and committed to the larger interest of the Ghanaian people.
I also want to reassure the business community that the Government which I lead means well. Our goal is to facilitate creation of a business environment that balances the resuscitation and growth of local industries and enterprises with operations of foreign businesses considered essential to the creation of a robust national economy.
We will not pursue a policy that sees Ghanaian industries suffering from unfair competition. Our local businesses will be encouraged to create jobs and play their role in growing the Ghanaian economy. And we will strive to balance the efficiency of the market with the compassion of the state.
We made promises to Ghanaians on the strength of which they have reposed trust in me and elected me and the National Democratic Congress to lead our nation over the next four years, and hopefully beyond.
The core of our campaign message and our agenda for change was;
1. Investing in People
2. Job Creation
3. Infrastructure Development and Expansion
4. Open, Transparent and Accountable Government
Our success in accomplishing the agenda for change will be measured by the extent to which we realize the vision of a better Ghana where opportunities are available to all our people and where Ghana’s prosperity will reach all not just a few.
We will strengthen our relations with our neighbors and help accelerate the processes toward economic integration in the sub-region. We will continue to be active in the African Union and in efforts to resolve conflicts on the continent. We will collaborate with the United Nations and other international and global institutions to make the world a better and safer place.
When the political transition is completed I will address the people of Ghana on the state of the economy which we have inherited. But I know we have to face hard truths and take bold, strong measures. I believe that as a nation, we will find the strength of character, love of country, and hope for our shared future as a nation, to accomplish even the most difficult of tasks.
Though our task ahead presents many challenges, I am confident that working together we will prevail and Ghana will be the ultimate winner.
I want to tell you, my brothers and sisters across our Nation, from Gambaga to Accra, from Wiawso to Keta, from every village, nook and cranny to every city center and in-between.
Let us join in this great challenge that the Almighty has laid before us, so to transform our country in the years to come, that we may be the ultimate beneficiaries of a prosperous Nation under God.
I thank you. God bless our Homeland Ghana and Make her great and strong.
Speech By H.E. John Atta Mills, President Of The Republic Of Ghana On The Occasion Of May Day Celebration, Friday ,May 01, 2009.
My brother Secretary General of TUC, My brother Chairman of TUC, Leadership of Organised Labour,Your Excellencies and Distinguished Invited Personalities
Colleague Workers of Ghana,
In the past, I participated in the May Day celebrations as Vice President.
In very recent times, I participated in the celebrations in my role as Leader of the NDC in opposition.
Today, by the Grace of God, and thanks to your support, I join in this year’s celebration as President of this dear country of ours.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve.
I extend my greetings to you all and express appreciation to the leadership of organised labour for the early manifestation of goodwill towards the government especially your willingness to dialogue and build consensus on a sustainable wage and salary structure for the country.
My brothers and sisters, this year’s May Day celebration is taking place against the backdrop of a global economic downturn which has serious repercussions on economic policies and employment the world over.
In Ghana, and indeed in the developing world, we seem to have become used to economic crisis on a daily basis.
Therefore, to many, the situation now and before the global economic crisis is all the same.
There is the temptation to play down the extent to which the global situation can worsen the crisis we may have become used to.
We face exposure to the current crisis because Ghana, like other emerging economies, is more integrated into the international economy than before.
And we are likely to experience the effect of the economic downturn through dwindling donor support, a decline in trade and reduced remittances and investment in the economy.
Aside the global economic crisis, our own management of the economy over the past several years has left a lot to be desired.
Indeed, what we inherited is a far cry from what was described as a robust and resilient economy.
However, I am not interested in interminable arguments over who did what in the past as far as the national economy is concerned.
We face challenges, and I do not believe the solution lies in constantly arguing or holding out the begging bowl.
Let us put aside partisanship and deal with the real issues.
In much the same way as other countries have agreed on stimulus packages which place emphasis on government interventions, we in Ghana must work out our own homegrown solutions that will enable us weather the economic downturn and enhance our capacity to provide social protection for people facing the brunt of poverty.
I am interested in practical outcomes and will continue to stress on the need for all Ghanaians to work together for the common good.
We have no intention of reversing the role we believe the private sector must play as the engine of economic growth, but the circumstances surrounding the global financial crunch point to the need to ensure strict application of rules and regulations.
As a government, we will not hesitate to review legislation and agreement to make sure the people of Ghana are not shortchanged.
In this regard, I have directed a review of the pension act passed last year bearing in mind the lessons of how deregulation in the financial markets has and the philosophy of each man for himself and God for us all has brought the world virtually to its knees.
The Government is critically examining all protocols and agreements, such as the Economic Partnership Agreement, and will seek advice and inputs from all key players in Industry, including Employers and Unions before taking a decision on the matter.
The Government’s social contract with Ghanaians is built on the firm belief that the people have a right to decent living and well paid jobs and we intend to promote and create employment opportunities in all sectors of the economy.
Our employment strategies include assessing past and current programmes such as the “Youth In Agriculture” and “National Youth Employment Programme” and doing the necessary re-engineering that will make them respond to present needs.
The Government is committed to creating jobs in the economic and productive sectors such as, Agriculture, Trade and Industry and Tourism.
Through our programme of expanding infrastructure in the areas of, Housing, Public Works, construction of Dams and the construction of roads, we hope to provide more job opportunities to both skilled and unskilled labour.
Government is putting in place support mechanisms to ensure the environment remains friendly to both old and new investors by way of proper legislation as well as improving public utilities delivery.
Wages and Salaries
My brothers and sisters, I know that off all the things that matter to us as workers, it is our wages and salaries that tops the list.
Let me assure you that the Single-Spine Pay Policy remains high on our agenda.
In the Budget Statement, the Minister for Finance spoke about Government’s commitment to fine-tune the Single-Spine Pay Policy taking into consideration the concerns of all interested parties in order to build consensus and overcome any implementation challenges.
At the end of February, Organised Labour and Employers met with the Ministers of Finance and Social Welfare.
Progress has been made on the discussions and Government is studying a Report submitted by a Technical Team for further action.
In anticipation of the implementation of the Single-Spine salary, Government is providing adequate funds and logistics to the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to execute its mandate.
My brothers and sisters, Government places a high premium on making sure that living standards are significantly improved.
Improving the living standards of especially the rural and urban poor is high on our agenda.
A lot of attention is being given to improving access to social services.
We are introducing a range of social protection schemes in line with our social democracy philosophy. We are providing security to the informal sector, caring for the disabled as is evidenced by the establishment of the Disability Council, and making sure that people living with HIV/AIDS are not discriminated against.
We have already shown commitment to our social intervention agenda by expanding the school feeding programme, increasing the capitation grant, and working towards a more efficient healthcare delivery system.
To begin with, we are in the process of providing free school uniforms and free text books to at least 1 million needy school children.
In the area of Agriculture, we have already provided a 50% relief on the cost of fertiliser.
Government has also approved a sum of GHC 7.5 million for the continuation of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP).
My brothers and sisters, I pledge myself to a committed approach to nation building and a very strong determination to move Ghana to a higher level of growth.
The Government I lead regards organised labour as an indispensable partner in our determination to build a Better Ghana.
We may not always agree, but as a Government, we will not be found wanting where truth and sincerity are concerned.
We will always seek to strike a meaningful balance between of workers and the economy as a whole.
Once again, Ayekoo, to you the hardworking Ghanaian workers.
God bless our homeland Ghana and make Her greater and stronger.
3. President J. E. A. Mills Address At The 64th Session Of The UN General Assembly
Mr. President, Permit me to join previous speakers in congratulating you on your election as President of the 64th Session of the General Assembly.
Your long and distinguished service to your country and Africa gives us the confidence that we are in experienced and capable hands.
I also wish to express my delegation’s appreciation to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, for the able manner with which he presided over the 63rd Session of the General Assembly.
This year marks the centenary of the birth of an illustrious son of Ghana and Africa, our first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, under whose leadership Ghana became a member of the United Nations on March 8, 1957, only two days after achieving Independence.
We recall Dr. Nkrumah’s proclamation before this august body on 23rd September, 1960, during the 15th Session, that “the United Nations was the only organization that holds out any hope for the future of mankind.”
It was at the same session that he also called for the reform of the Security Council in order to bring it in line with a rapidly changing world.
More than forty years have since passed, and those views remain relevant.
Then, as now, Africa faced deep crisis with profound and far-reaching implications for international peace and stability.
Today, the combined effects of climate change, high food and energy prices and the current financial and economic crisis threaten to erode the modest but hard earned economic growth and democratic achievements of the last two decades.
Africa remains volatile, and violent conflicts still persist.
Therefore, we must all support the United Nations and its regional allies, such as the African Union, to live up to these and other pressing challenges facing the international community.
We acknowledge that globalization has expanded and accelerated economic interdependence among states.
In contrast, the benefits of globalization have been negligible in the majority of developing countries and their economies have not been transformed in any significant manner.
Despite almost a decade of impressive growth of about 5 percent, only a few countries have been able to reduce the proportion of their population living on less than US$1 per day.
Consequently, most of the countries remain susceptible to various external shocks which continue to pose threats to their growth.
In fact, the over-reliance on high commodity prices and mineral exports has not lessened, but rather exposed the structural impediments to food security.
This is particularly true of sub-Saharan Africa where the on-going world financial and economic crisis threatens to erode decades of modest growth and thereby make the Millennium Development Goals unattainable in any meaningful way.
Ghana, therefore, reiterates her support for a global integration that ensures inclusive and equitable development and effectively contributes to substantial poverty alleviation, including full and productive employment as well as broad access to social services.
A number of developing countries, including those in Africa, have taken various steps to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis on their economies, including interest rate reductions,
recapitalization of financial institutions, increasing liquidity to banks, trade policy changes, and regulatory reforms.
In Ghana, fiscal restraint has been exercised in response to the crisis, including cutting all low priority public spending and shifting the balance from recurrent expenditure to infrastructure investment.
In addressing the impact of crisis on their economies, African countries will like to see:
Rich countries making more effort to meet existing commitments on aid and debt reduction
Accelerating disbursements and improving access to existing financial facilities
Urging the International Monetary Fund to put in place a new facility with relaxed conditions to support African economies during this crisis period
A capital increase for the African Development Bank to enable it to scale up its interventions in support of African development
Sale of International Monetary Fund gold reserves to release additional resources to help developing countries deal with the financial crisis and
Issuance of new special drawing rights
Prior to the onset of the global crisis, namely the food and oil price hikes, and the current financial crisis, a number of developing countries were making tremendous efforts and progress towards achieving the MDGs.
Many of them were implementing MDG-consistent national development plans or poverty reduction strategies to accelerate the progress towards achieving those goals.
Even under those favourable conditions, there were concerns that the majority of developing countries, particularly in Africa, were not on track to meeting all the MDGs by the target date of 2015.
The rise in food prices in 2008 reversed the nearly two-decade trend in reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger in the developing world and this has been exacerbated by the financial crisis.
International trade carries enormous potential for reducing poverty and driving economic growth that can lift millions of people out of poverty.
The ongoing Doha Trade Round is committed, at least in principle, to improve market access for poor countries.
This commitment is very important, especially in low-skill and labour-intensive sectors such as garment manufacturing where most African exports come from.
Sustained economic growth requires that poor countries increase their exports to the rich countries.
Unfortunately, the current global trading system discriminates against developing countries, hinders their participation in the global economy and damages the earning opportunities of farmers and rural communities in poor countries.
Trade-distorting subsidies, as well as tariff and non-tariff barriers instituted by most advanced countries have denied market access to African products.
For developing countries like Ghana a meaningful liberalization must be accompanied by predictable access to markets, eliminating abuse of anti-dumping measures and the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
In the face of all these developments, Africa acknowledges that our efforts at achieving sustainable, social and economic development depend essentially on our commitment to good governance.
In spite of the difficult challenges, leaders across the continent have embraced democratic values except in a few cases where narrow self interests of leaders are threatening the commendable gains of the last decade.
We are also confronted with grave risks posed by climate change to environmental, social and economic development.
The need for concrete, timely and decisive measures to enable us to cope with this largely man-made problem is obvious and must not be deferred any longer.
As we proceed to the UN Climate Change Conference scheduled for December 2009 in Copenhagen (COP-15), the issue of financing mitigation and adaptation to climate change in developing
countries will remain central in the deliberations, and in fact, progress on these issues will be significantly crucial in determining any outcome in Copenhagen.
Peacekeeping operations have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the organization’s efforts to fulfill its core obligation of promoting international peace and security.
Ghana, as one of the oldest and consistent troop contributing countries, deems it a matter of honour and privilege to be associated with this success story of our Organisation.
We equally acknowledge that increasing demands have placed further strain on an already overstretched system.
It is for this reason that we applaud and renew our support for the reform process which has so far yielded fruitful dividends, although further improvements are required if we are to achieve the ultimate goal.
Ghana cannot but commend the growing cooperation between the UN and regional organizations, and calls for its intensification to make the best use of the cooperative strength of the UN and regional arrangements in a mutually complementary manner.
Next year marks the fifteenth year after the adoption of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
However, the huge gap between policy and practice and the uneven progress in implementing the international commitments on gender equality and empowerment of women heightens the importance of creating an enabling environment, through a more coherent, integrated and multi-sectoral approach.
Over the years, Ghana has spared no effort in implementing the Beijing Platform goals and has amply demonstrated its commitment to promoting and ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment through concrete administrative, legal and constitutional means.
In our efforts to achieve full and accelerated implementation of these goals and objectives, the Government is actively pursuing an Affirmative Action Policy which seeks to ensure 40 percent representation of women in decision-making positions.
We have made gains to this end as lucidly testified by the appointment of the first female Speaker of Parliament, first female Attorney General, as well as a number of female Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Also, other professional women occupy high offices.
At the 63rd Session, this Assembly adopted a resolution that requested that we improve our efforts and join together in backing the international initiative against human trafficking and protection of victims.
We concur with those who view the elaboration and adoption of a United Nations Global Plan of Action as an effective and practical way to give this resolution life and strengthen international efforts against this despicable crime.
Our expectation is that the President of the General Assembly will make this an urgent and priority issue for this 64th Session and I assure you of Ghana’s full commitment and support to this cause.
In conclusion, I would like to note with regret that conflicts, particularly in the developing world, have robbed us of the opportunity to improve the wellbeing of our people.
Sustainable development can only be achieved in an international environment characterized by peace and security.
Ghana, therefore, wishes to reiterate her commitment to the ideals of the United Nations and will continue to live up to its charter obligations and together with member states assist this organization in its task of maintaining global peace and security.
Ghana believes that the United Nations remains the ideal multilateral instrument available for maintaining international peace and security and for promoting fruitful international cooperation.
We must therefore strengthen our resolve and muster the necessary political will to allow the UN to function more effectively in redeeming the majority of our people from war, disease and poverty.
My fellow Presidents; we in Ghana are committed to building a Better Ghana; let us, as Presidents, commit ourselves to building a Better World.
I thank you for your attention and God bless us all.