Mahama answers questions on terror suspects, other national issues


A Ghanaian Palaver reporter wants the president to speak about armed robbery and heroic act of the taxi driver who rammed his vehicle into a motorbike of suspected armed robbers who shot a Koala Shopping Mall employee.

Mahama: Government has re-tooled the armed forces and security institutions and began a recruitment drive for more police personnel. This has resulted in a reduction in crime rate by 5,000 incidences between 2013 and 2014. Police Service managed to begin investigations and arrested a British suspect .

Per UN standards the ratio of police to citizenry is 1:500 people. Today we have I police man to 700 people. There is more visibility and community policing.

Mahama says all over the world, where somebody has shown a mark of courage, often the person is awarded. It is rare these days for people to go out of their way. I am happy the Vice-President met him yesterday and I directed that he gets a three-bedroom at the Affordable Housing project. He commends Koala Shopping Mall.

On the Gitmo detainees into Ghana, there is no monetary consideration. The US would have disclosed it. What critics are saying on social media, is absolutely untrue that I collected 300 million.

Ghana did a risk assessment after the US made the request for Ghana to take them. These were low-risk people who were picked when they were 20 years old. There was no evidence that they could be charged. Ghana is not the only country that is an ally of the US.

In 2003, US approached us as an ally to sign a non-surrender treaty not to send US suspects to International Criminal Court for prosecution. He says he will not jeopardize the country’s security. “What you should fear is what you don’t know”. He says Ghanaians should fear road accidents than the detainees.

The US is part of countries that have the largest database of persons perceived to be terrorist. Ghana is benefiting from the partnership with the US because we can get advanced information on terror suspects being tracked by international intelligence.

He said a lot of combatants from the Ivory Coast civil war came to Ghana because of the free access within the sub-region and we lived here with them peacefully.

Several countries have taken them like Estonia. I do not think that we should feel ashamed for taking them.

Where is our Christian passion for prisoners?
Unique FM: What effort are you putting in to help with facilities for the aged?

There is a policy being put in place at the Gender Miniroty for the aged. There are also monies paid monthly to destitute aged under the LEAP program

Starr FM: Exactly how many young people are unemployed?

We don’t have the capacity to know the exact number of unemployed youth but we are building capacity to know the level of unemployment.

By the time teacher trainees are posted and information processed often time have passed. They would have started working but their salaries would delay.

There is a system to provisionally put them on the payroll while their data is processed.

Nurses in public schools sign a bond and are considered first in employment in the government sector. But nurses trained in private schools are pushing to be employed in the public sector because it gives better pay.

Some error in the health ministry has given privately trained nurses preference over public nurses and that is why people are picketing.

Unique FM: What effort are you putting in to help with facilities for the aged?

There is a policy being put in place at the Gender Ministry for the aged. There are also monies paid monthly to destitute aged under the LEAP program

We don’t have the capacity to know the exact number of unemployed youth but we are building capacity to know the level of unemployment.

By the time teacher trainees are posted and information processed often time have passed. They would have started working but their salaries would delay.

There is a system to provisionally put them on the payroll while their data is processed.

Nurses in public schools sign a bond and are considered first in employment in the government sector. But nurses trained in private schools are pushing to be employed in the public sector because it gives better pay.

Some error in the health ministry has given privately trained nurses preference over public nurses and theat is why people are picketing.

General Telegraph: What is the benefit of building those schools when your government has implemented anti-teacher policies?

Mahama say the quota system and allowance restricted government ability to admit more students. But government has removed these policies and enrollment has increased by 63%.

He says the opposition NPP’s promise that “when I come back I will restore it [ trainee allowance] is just politics.

“I mean for what purpose?”. He says there is the student loan trust for students who need funding to go to school.

“I don’t think it is necessary for us to inject politics into the planning of policy. It is just political propaganda to say we are anti-teacher”.

Mahama says Government has increased feeding grants in teacher trainee colleges. They eat three times a day. Government went for a 156million dollar loan under a program to build capacity of 50,000 science and maths teachers.

He says he appreciates political contest but adds politics should not cloud the understanding on issues.

Peace FM: Microfinace crisis in Bono Ahafo, who will help us get our money

There has been an absolute explosion in the operations of microfinance. There are two categories of such institutions. Although they are not supposed to take deposits per their license, some of them are. They then make promise to give abnormal profits.

Another group are fan clubs that collect monies but claim it is not a financial institution.

He reminds Ghanaians of ponzy schemes like Pyram in the past.

He denies claims the owner of the DKM microfinance is linked to the presidency. This is the first time I saw in the newspapers the DKM man, a lanky tall chap has links with my wife. She does not know him. He wants political leaders to stop taking advantage of the situation in Bono Ahafo and join in educating Ghanaians to be ware of ponzy schemes.

There will be a forum with people in Bono Ahafo to explain the issues to the people. He says government will try to compensate the affected people but it will not be a total refund of their monies. Government will also go after the properties of the owners of these microfinance institutions.

He expressed shock at the category of people who have been swindled ; pastors, intellectuals, professors.

Government will prosecute the likes of DKM Microfinance. “Those who have cheated the people will pay for what they have done”, he vows.

Daily Guide: Dumsor still persists despite promising to end the power crisis in 2015

He says the power sector takes the most of his time as president.

We are close as we are to ending dumsor. Christmas festivities showed there was remarkable improvement. Let me not predict, in a short while the problems will be over. I have learnt not to make predictions, Mahama laughs.

The technical managers will soon engage Ghanaians to explain the maintenance works that they will be doing. During the times the power will be off.

Mahama says government is inviting IPP to generate power which means government must collect enough monies to service the agreement with IPPs. In the past if we did not have money to pay back VRA, it did not come with sanctions. But now with IPPs it does.

He also lamented about the stealing of power by some consumers. He stresses that ECG will not be privatized. The machines and equipment will be the property of ECG but a private sector player will help in collecting revenue and responding to customer complaints. This private sector player will help create more jobs.

He berates the government agencies and ministeries for not paying their utility bills. He says even though the budget of those of agencies include the payment of utilities, they have failed in paying their bills but are rather more concerned with putting their monies in conferences.

Daily Democrat: What are the policies behind the transformational agenda?

He says under his administration local rice consumption has gone up 60% from 30%. SADA is working to bring 10,000 hectares to be irrigated using the White Volta.

Ghana is investing in a 500 acre in shrimp farming with an agreement with a foreign buyer to buy “every single shrimp”.

Government is investing a palm oil production to slash the importation of palm oil, coffee.

Citi FM: Prices of crude oil is on a record low but New Year we got a 33% increase in prices. Utilities have also been increased by more than 50% and a 1% income tax. It is a three in one in January. How do you convince us that you care for us?

As an exporter of petroleum, we have lost billions of cedis because of the reduction of crude oil prices.

Our major institutions have accumulated lots of debts which is choking VRA, ECG. VRA owes virtually every bank in the country. If we won’t a sustainable power we have to deal with that debt. I don’t have that money if I had I will pay somewhere.

God has blessed us with a reduction in oil price so government can add taxes on the price of fuel so we can pay the debt. I don’t see anything wrong with what we have done. The taxes are also going into roads which will create jobs. It is a re-investment it is just like recycling our own money. 70% of our people don’t file tax returns. The only way you can get everybody to contribute is indirect taxes. The increase is hitting us the users of private vehicles. If you use private vehicles you pay more but if you took trotro, 15 of you use the same fuel and pay less.

President Mahama says he was elected to take tough decisions. In the future people will see the benefit of the decisions.

Kasapa FM: Are you worried about the way guns are being paraded everywhere?

President Mahama is worried about guns in the system and government is doing everything possible to reduce the amount of guns in the system.

Joy FM: You instructed two years ago for the repayment of monies wrongly paid to service providers under GYEEDA, SADA and initiate legal actions against culprits. But this has not been done. Why are you people not doing what you tell them?

Corruption is about systems not individuals. Corruption does not have political face. Our institutions are weak. You cannot be an adherent of constitutional democracy and an admirer for arbitrary justice.

A private citizen has challenged government’s attempt to retrieve the money from Woyome. We cannot imprison the man for challenging government in court. Government has retrieved over 50million of GYEEDA money. GYEEDA as an institution does not give loans in the first place.

We sacked 163 national service coordinators and are prosecuting some 30 of them. We have recovered almost 20 million Ghana cedis from that scandal. But the unfortunate thing is that when you show the will to punish corruption then your opponent takes it and says ‘ah so you see there is corruption’

Corruption is judged by perception so in a free media as people talk about it, perceptions of corruption will be high. Ghana has a high media per capita and it is a good thing.

Government is also working to ensure that corruption does not happen in the first place by putting in place GIFMIS which allows government to track public funds and request on funds. Government is working to push through a cashless system. If everybody used a debit card, how will a policeman ask for bribe?

Mahama says a whistleblower helped uncover the inflation of claims at the National Health Insurance Scheme and that has led to an investigation which is still ongoing. He says he has not obstructed the BNI in its investigations.

Since he instructed A-G to fight every judgment debt case, government saved 28.9million dollars and 99 million Ghana cedis, 352 million Ghana cedis and 1.6 million dollars from different cases. Government only paid a 100,000 Ghana cedis. A company asking for 27million dollars in judgment debt was squashed “because of my instructions to the Attorney-General”

It is a part of the fight against corruption and we will play our part.

Insight: National ID cards is a laudable system but there is almost inactivity at the National Identification Authority

It is important to know where our people live and who they are. He says he lives on Prestige Drive since he instructed the naming of streets. He says soon a mobile phone will be used to start the process to register births and deaths.

Government is building a national data center to store and back-up all our national data. SSNIT, NHIS, DVLA will be able to link into the data center so we don’t have different systems giving different cards.

Citizen Complaints centers will be introduced to allow people to report wrongdoing. This is to enhance good governance. It will employ National Service Persons. More details will be contained in his State of the Nation Address this year.

Class FM: You said you did extensive consultation on the GITMO detainees. Why didn’t the president consult parliament, clergy on the GITMO detainees? If he took them in because of his Christian compassion what about the detainees in Ghana’s prison who are not guilty of any wrongdoing?

We did extensive consultations on the security level internally and externally. He says Ghana is getting helpful intelligence on people who may have been radicalized. Tehre is a story of a Ghana girl in Denmark who fled to Syria, gave birth there and came back to Denmark. She has been arrested.

I am the first president in Ghana to go visit the prisons and on the basis of that we have set up a court in prison that is reviewing the state of remand prisoners. That is my Christian compassion for prisoners. We must build a new remand prison to ease over-crowding. Government will build a new remand cell block in Nsawam to separate remand prisoners from convicted prisoners.

Bloomberg News: wants the President to justify Ghana’s decision to go to IMF

Our deficit had gone up to almost 12%. We came up with a home-grown program to fix the deficit. Foreign donors were skeptical because bad press from Bloomberg, Reuters and others that affected our credit ratings.

So government was forced to go to the IMF for “ policy credibility”. Ghana is not like powerhouse Nigeria that can reject IMF bail-out. When Ghana went to the IMF, the same things that we said in our home grown policies were the same things the IMF directed us to do.

We are doing everything possible to decrease the deficit. World economy has grown increasingly unpredictable so we must rely on ourselves more. That is why we must pay more in taxes so we can become more independent of world economic fluctuations. Ghana’s traditional exports, gold, cocoa others have suffered in recent years hence government needs to raise revenue domestically.

Nana Aba: You mentioned that we have grown grey hair. What have you done to reduce the pressure on you as president in spite of your hectic responsibilities and what do you do to keep awake at night?


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