The Government said on Monday that the declaration by President John Evans Atta Mills of 2011 as an “Action Year” would receive a historic impetus as Parliament meets today to approve a $3 billion facility from the China Development Bank.
A statement signed by Deputy Minister of Information, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the money, which was the first tranche of dividends from President Mills’ visit to China in September 2010, was expected to accelerate the infrastructural expansion and industrial take-off Ghana has been awaiting.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa said the president had set up a special team of economic experts which worked closely with cabinet over the past months to consider strategic areas and growth poles where the money should be invested with the view to ensuring that the facility triggered the needed sustained growth in the economy.
The emphasis would be on job creation, ensure that Ghana addresses its infrastructural deficit which will have direct bearing in improving the country’s human development index indicators and assisting Ghana to meet the Millennium Development Goals and also ensure that a solid industrial foundation is laid to maximize the benefit from Ghana’s oil and gas discovery.
The Deputy Minister said all this fitted into President Mills’ vision of a Better Ghana, which had been put forth in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA).
According to Mr Ablakwa, some of the key projects that the facility will be used for are:
· Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Project
· Western Corridor ‘Petroleum Terminal’ Project
· Western Corridor ‘Oil Enclave’ Toll Road Project
· Western Corridor Railway Line Modernization Project- Takoradi-Kumasi; Dunkwa-Awaso Railway Line, Retrofit Phase 1
· Western Corridor Infrastructure Renewal project- Takoradi Port Retrofit Phase 1
· Sekondi Free Zone Project- Shared Infrastructure and Utility Services
· Accra Plains irrigation Project
· Coastal Fishing Harbours and Landing Sites Re-development Project (Axim, Dixcove, Elmina, Winneba, Mumford, Senya- Beraku, Jamestown, Teshie, Tema, Ada, Keta)
· Eastern Corridor Multi-Modal Transportation Project- Upgrade of Volta Lake Ferries, Pontoons + Landing sites (Kpando-Amankwakrom; Kete Krachi-Kwadokrom; Yeji-Makongo; Tapa Abotoase; Dzemeni)
· Upgrade of Akosombo and Buipe Ports
· Accra Metropolitan Area ICT- Enhanced Traffic Management Project (including urgent road completion components)
· SME Projects Incubation Facility
The statement noted that Government had over the past week presented these projects to Parliament’s Finance Committee at a special two-day session in Koforidua.
He indicated that Ministers of State took turns to explain projects in their respective sectors and that all was set for a Parliamentary debate and decision from the 22nd to the 26th of August, 2011.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa gave the assurance that other issues such as Ghana’s absorptive capacity for the facility had been critically considered and that government and most experts agreed there was no cause for worry especially as the facility will be expended within a five-year period.
He added that Ghana’s budget for this year alone was more than four times that amount and that already Government was spending far in excess of $3 billion on investments alone annually.
He also gave the assurance that detailed feasibility had been conducted on the various projects to be executed and their strategic relevance pivotal to our country’s accelerated development.
He added that this was not a government that would start spending without a plan.
The statement stressed: “These bold and comprehensive measures such as this $3 billion facility and the recent $305 million dollars secured for the completion of the ‘gang of four’ roads are all aimed at frontally confronting this nation’s hydra-headed challenges and that President Mills will remain unrelenting in his quest to build a happy, prosperous, fair and just society.”
The statement urged all Ghanaians to continue to take keen interest in these crucial matters by not only making their views and expectations known to their representatives in Parliament but also ensuring that they took “full advantage of the new dawn of our country”.