Mr Speaker, I will refer to the last group report and this is the European Group report and this report was signed by Madam Catherine Ashton, who is the Permanent Secretary at the European Union. She wrote--
“I welcome the peaceful conduct of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections which took place in an open, transparent and competitive environment.”
In coordination with the Ghanaian authorities, the European Union has sent an electoral expert mission, which will stay in the country until the end of the electoral process. I would like to commend the Electoral Commission of Ghana for its impartial and overall professional management of the process.
Mr Speaker, it is clear from my readings that, everybody from CODEO to all the international observer groups, who observed and monitored the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections have given this election a clean bill of health. It is important for everybody to note that sections of Ghanaians who want to doubt the credibility of the 2012 elections, are largely in isolation and they are largely in just a loud minority.
And indeed, all those who matter when it comes to these elections in terms of their reports, have indeed, accredited this election very highly.
Mr Speaker, I intend to also speak about the media. On page 23 of the President's State of the Nation Address, he spent some time in advocating for this House to as a matter of urgency, pass the Broadcasting Bill. The President also indicated that he would not hesitate at all in giving assent to this Bill once this House passes it. That was the same view he has for the Right to Information Bill.
I would want to appeal that this House takes encouragement from the President's position on these two Bills and take steps to quite earnestly work on them.
Mr Speaker, it is also refreshing to observe that His Excellency the President touched on the National Media Commission and indicated that, the National Media Commission (NMC) would receive support, so that it will enhance its operations. That they can have fairness and more offices in this country to monitor and improve the quality of broadcasting and general media practice in Ghana.
While commenting about the media, Mr Speaker, I also take delight in the fact that, the President talked about the long awaited Media Development Fund (MDF) and indicated that he is indeed, committed to ensuring that very soon, it would be operationalized. I believe this matter raises the issue about the general welfare of media practitioners.
In recent times, there have been calls for perhaps, journalists to be unionized, so that they can receive decent salaries and work in good conditions. They can also carry out their duties very well. I think all of us must support the media in ensuring that we improve their working condition.
The next item I would want to touch on very briefly, Mr Speaker, has to do with the manufacturing sector. I take a lot of delight from the President's concentration on the manufacturing sector with the assurance he gave on page 12 of the State of the Nation Address, that:
“Facilitate the establishment of an Industrial Development Fund to provide a ready resource envelope for ailing and struggling manu- facturing industries in Ghana.”
Only two days ago, Mr Speaker, I toured a number of factories in my constituency, which are really in dire stress; the Juapong Textiles Factory, the Aveyime Rice Project, the Aveyime Cattle Range and the Juapong Milk Factory. All these factories are ailing and they need resources.
That is why I take great confidence in this particular pledge, because I think that the President indeed, has made the right diagnosis of the situation and if this Fund can be established -- the Aveyime Rice Project, for example, needs only US$1.5 million, without which they would be shut down in the next two months.
The Juapong Textiles Factory needs only GH¢3.5 million according to their management. Such a fund, Mr Speaker, would help boost our manufacturing sector. It would create jobs and also strengthen our economy.
Mr Speaker, the next sector the President touched on was the railway and the port sector. Too long in this country, we have been paying lip-service to the rail sector. I remember that on page 15 of the 2000 Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) indicated that upon coming to power, they would extend the railway line from the South to the North. That did not happen in four years.
In their 2004 Manifesto, on page 25, they, this time, said that they would extend the railway lines from the South all the way to our northern neighbours, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Again, this did not happen. I am happy that the
President mentioned concrete steps which have been taken to bring confidence to railway workers and to expand the railway sector.
The next item I would want to touch on finally before I conclude Mr Speaker, has to do with the sports sector. Mr Speaker, on page 6, the President touched on the need for the Ghana Football Association (GFA), after our heartbreaking performance at the African Confederation Cup (AfCON) to re-organize the team. It is further heartbreaking, Mr Speaker, that just a few days after the State of the Nation Address, many more players continue to resign from national assignments.
We have just heard that the Ayew brothers have written that they would no longer participate in Black Star international matches. We have a long queue -- Michael Essien, Kelvin Prince Boateng and others. It is not clear if it is the issue of lack of patriotism or it is a management issue. I believe that the time has come for this House to take these matters very seriously, so that whatever the problem is, we can find a solution.
This is because, as we know, football is the passion of the nation and we cannot have a situation where some of our finest talents continue to withdraw from national assignments.
In concluding, Mr Speaker, I would like to say that, quite clearly, the State of the Nation Address was one which has been well received by every Ghanaian; it was very brilliantly delivered and I hope that this House would track the many pledges and the many commitments that the President has made, so that next year by this time, we would be able to give a report to the good people of this country on how well the President and the Executive have delivered on the promises that they made.