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President Mills Assures Ghanaians Of A Peaceful, Free And Fair Election 2012   
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President John Evans Atta-Mills has assured Ghanaians of a peaceful, free and fair campaign and polls in December 2012.

In an address presented on his behalf by Professor Kofi Awoonor, Chairman of the Council of State, at the opening of the 63rd Annual New Year School and Conference in Accra on Monday, President Mills affirmed government’s commitment to ensure that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) was adequately resourced to undertake the "huge task ahead".

He said the Government would respect the independence and competence of the NEC and expected all other citizens to do the same, to ensure a peaceful, as well as a free and fair election.

The year’s edition of the week-long School and Conference, which was under the theme; “One year of Oil and Gas Production: Emerging Issues”, was to among other aims, raise the awareness of Ghanaians on the key issues facing the oil and gas sector as well as key developments in policy decisions in the industry.

It would also to provide a platform for the public to passionately discuss regulatory frameworks, governance and revenue management strategies that were in place to guarantee some entitlements and royalties to the people of Ghana.

The forum offered an opportunity for Civil Society Organizations, Parliamentarians, the media and concerned citizens to offer alternative strategies towards the efficient and effective management of oil and gas and further influence policy through the recommendations made by participants at the close of the session in as final communiqués that were issued to government and its agencies.

President Mills commended the Institute of Continuing and Distance Education (ICDE) of the University of Ghana (UG), for sustaining the programme over the years and for the immense contribution to policy initiatives in the country.

He noted that although the issue of oil and gas in some countries had been associated with massive corruption, misery and poverty among the wider populace, Ghana was poised to protect its asset and ensure its proper utilization to bring about national development.

He indicated that the Government had put in place various structures to ensure the proper use of the oil and gas revenue, but pointed out that the need to address the huge infrastructure deficit of the country was very critical.

The President mentioned programmes such as the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and the improvements in roads in the major corridors of the country as part of the efforts aimed at eliminating poverty among the rural communities in the country.

He said although there had been global economic challenges that had led to social unrests in various countries particularly in the Arab world, Ghana’s economy had been rated by global experts as one of the fastest growing and was on course.

He stressed that government recognizes skills development as a critical need towards preparing a generation of highly developed manpower for the oil and gas sector and mentioned interventions such as the Graduate Support and National Youth Employment Programmes as important steps to curb graduate unemployment in the country.

He called for the strengthening of departments within tertiary institutions to develop new courses to handle oil and gas issues and ensure highly skilled graduate manpower to manage the sector to make Ghana competitive in the industry.

The President called on Ghanaians to develop positive attitudes towards issues such as ethics, time management, sanitation, concern and respect for public and state assets and said the Government would keenly follow proceedings of the School and Conference and expect realistic recommendations for policy direction.

According to Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, despite the excitement of the oil and gas find by Ghana, there seemed to be a growing pessimism that government may not invest the revenues obtained in critical areas of development to prove the standard of living of all Ghanaians.

He said most people were inquiring about how the oil and gas resource would benefit Ghanaians and whether it would be a blessing or a curse?

He said this had also prompted questions on Ghana’s ability to balance agricultural development with oil and gas production and ultimately, her ability to change the socio-economic landscape of the country especially, the Western Region.

Prof. Aryeetey noted that while some countries had successfully managed the same resource to become a blessing for them, others had suffered the consequences of mishandling the gift and therefore allowing it to become a major setback to their development efforts.

He said it was evident that the dicey nature of oil and gas production and its management in a developing country like Ghana, called for a holistic examination of issues that may come with its operation.
Source: GNA

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