President John Atta Mills pledged to “account for every pesewa” of the country’s new- found oil wealth as he announced plans to step up spending on road, rail and energy projects.
“It is time for this country to think big and think positive,” Mills told parliament in a state-of-the-nation address in the capital, Accra, today. “There is nothing wrong with being bold and ambitious.”
The government will complete a new gas transfer station in the western city of Takoradi, begin work a “massive expansion” of the country’s highway, railroad and irrigation network financed by China and take steps to repay longstanding debts from the state-owned Tema Oil Refinery, Mills said. The country’s Jubilee oil field, which began production in December, is expected to increase output to 120,000 barrels per day within three to six months from 55,000 barrels last month, according to Tullow Oil Plc, the field’s operator.
Mills also promised that the government would complete construction of 250,000 houses under a deal with South Korea’s STX Corp. within five years. Work began on a first phase of the project involving 30,000 homes for members of the country’s security forces on Jan. 27.
“We have a lot of planning to do to raise the living conditions of our people,” Mills said. “I want to assure the people of Ghana the oil revenue will be used for their benefit.”
The government plans to develop a 5,000-hectare (12,355- acre) irrigated plantation near the capital Accra that would provide vegetables and grain for city-dwellers and jobs for youth, he said.
He also urged a peaceful solution to the political crisis in neighboring Ivory Coast, where incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down after the country’s electoral board and the international community recognized rival Alassane Ouattara as the winner of its Nov. 28 election. The Economic Community of West African States, of which Ghana is a member, said Dec. 24 it may use “legitimate force” to achieve the goals of the Ivory Coast electorate.
“This is not the time for anybody who has the interest of the country at heart to start beating war drums,” Mills said.
Mills, who will run for a second-four year term in 2012, also called for the country’s opposition to calm its political rhetoric to preserve Ghana’s democracy and stability.
“For those who are interested in warmongering, I want to tell them that their agenda will never see the light of day,” he said.
Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, leader of the opposition New Patriotic Party, called Mills’ address divisive. “Never in my life have I seen such a partisan state of the nation’s address,” he said. “It is a sad day in the history of the country.”