“Mr. Speaker, let me, at this point, assure the House that, in the course of this session of Parliament, Government will come back to engage the House on the steps it intends to take on the future of the Agyapa transaction.”
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has hinted to Parliament that the much-talked-about Agyapa Minerals Royalties Investments would be re-introduced in the current session of the House.
The comeback, according to President Akufo-Addo, would be to engage the Legislature on the steps the government intends to take on the future for the Agyapa transaction.
The President informed the country through Parliament yesterday when he gave his maiden message on the State of the Nation since assuming office for a second term.
He said: “Mr. Speaker, let me, at this point, assure the House that, in the course of this session of Parliament, the government will come back to engage the House on the steps it intends to take on the future of the Agyapa transaction.”
If sent back to Parliament, it would meet a House of equal numerical strength by both political parties, unlike the previous where the ruling government’s party had the upper hand.
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo, in his acceptance speech after he was declared victorious in the last December polls, indicated that the numbers in the House was a signal that Ghanaians needed the two main political parties to work together in the large interest of the nation.
That notwithstanding, President Akufo-Addo, in his address yesterday, indicated that land administration continues to be bedevilled with, apparently, intractable challenges.
However, he added that this year, the government intends to roll out a programme for the digitisation of all land records for the purposes of ensuring effective land administration. According to him, aggressive afforestation will be pursued in the course of the year, with the expected launch of a Green Ghana Project, which will see the mobilisation of Ghanaians in all fields of endeavour to participate in a nationwide tree planting exercise.
Further, the government, President Akufo-Addo said, through the Ministry of Local Government and the District Assembly Common Fund, has commenced an initiative to construct 90 courts with accompanying accommodation for judges across the country, an initiative to help address the problem of inadequate court infrastructure.
Speaking on the digitisation agenda of the government, President Akufo-Addo noted the operations of many government institutions, including the ports, NHIS, DVLA, GRA, and the Passport Office in that regard.
He also spoke on the National Identification Card, also known as the Ghana Card, that it would soon be the only identity card for official transactions.
“Mr. Speaker, for the first time, we have enrolled 15.5 million people onto the National ID Card system (the Ghana Card), and we will complete the process this year. From 1st April, and this is not an April Fool’s prank, all National ID numbers will become Tax Identification Numbers. In so doing, the number of people registered by GRA for tax purposes will increase from the current three million (3 million) to 15.5 million. I should recall that at the end of 2016, only 750,000 people had TIN numbers. The increase to 15.5 million in just four years is simply phenomenal,” he remarked.
The President, in the midst of the usual heckles and cheers from both sides of the political divide, stated that the government had also introduced several interventions at the high school level.
Some of these, he chronicled, are the GH¢198 million academic intervention support programme dedicated for extra classes for students in SHS, implementation of free internet connectivity for secondary schools, full absorption of BECE registration fee for all for students in public junior high schools from 2017 till date, and full absorption of WASSCE registration fees for students, which started last year.
He also touched on the fight against illegal mining in his first term, which met some setbacks, but was confident the new Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, would build on the progress made.
“…Yes, in the last four years so much has been achieved in cleaning up this industry, training miners in the best methods of mining, introducing community mining, enacting additional regulatory legislation, but the reality is that illegal small-scale mining remains a major problem. I am confident that the new, energetic Minister for Lands and Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Damongo Constituency, Hon. Samuel Abu Jinapor, will rapidly facilitate the holding of this national dialogue, and will work to build on the progress of his predecessors, by enhancing regulation of this sector, which should be anchored on the protection of the environment and on community mining,” he observed.
“Our efforts at ending open defecation received a boost with the construction of 103,149 toilet facilities for vulnerable households in towns and villages across the country, under the Household and Institutional Toilet Programme. The cumulative result of this has been that some 822,000 persons have benefitted nationwide. Some five thousand, five hundred communities have also been declared open defecation free.”