Be mindful of your utterances as Election 2016 approaches — Duncan-Williams

The Founder and General Overseer of the Action Chapel International (ACI), Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, has advised the public to be mindful of their utterances as the country prepares for the 2016 general election.
He recalled the revolutionary days in Ghana and the chaotic past of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire and said the country could learn from those experiences.
“Let Ghana be first before our political parties and religions. Let Ghana be first before our tribes. If anything goes wrong in this country, our churches and religions will be affected. Nothing moves and you can’t pray…. No business, no banks, nothing operates; everything comes to a standstill,” he stated at a breakfast meeting organised by the Airport Residential Area branch of the ACI in Accra on Saturday.
 “May we not see the peace of this country compromised even for rights.  A time comes when you must choose between peace and rights,” he stressed.
He pointed out that as much as peace was the presence of justice, people could not insist on their rights and “compromise the peace we are all enjoying in this country”.
The Archbishop led the gathering to pray for peaceful elections and the progress of the country.
The ACI meeting is held once every two months to interact with members of the Diplomatic Corps in the country.
It also offers the platform for Christian captains of industry and entrepreneurs to interact with government officials towards strengthening their businesses.
Ghana’s democracy  
Touting Ghana as a model of democracy, the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert P. Jackson, said he expected “this reputation to remain intact as we near this year’s elections. But like addressing corruption, ensuring peaceful elections requires each of us to stand up for peace and make it clear that we oppose violence”.
He asserted that the US government did not support any candidate or political party in the elections but would work with the elected government.
“Our interest is in fair, transparent, credible and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the Ghanaian people,” he stated.
The American  diplomat challenged Ghanaians to stand up and speak out against corruption.
Describing corruption as a cancerous tumor, he said it destroyed economies and stunted investment and development.
Cost of corruption
The US Ambassador’s comments come on the heels of the recurrent record of financial malfeasance recorded annually in the Auditor General’s Report, with little to show by way of improvement as the figures continue to increase.
Although figures on exactly how much the country loses are not available, estimates suggest that between $1 billion and $3 billion disappears from state coffers due to corruption.
The US Ambassador also expressed worry over obstacles to trade, particularly at checkpoints, even within the West African sub-region.
He cited the Ghana-Burkina Faso border as example, where exporters of agricultural produce faced more than 40 checkpoints and also had to pay at least $100 as “facilitation payment”.
To curb the trend, Mr Jackson said everybody, whether American or Ghanaian, must “be willing to stand up and be the light needed to drive away the shadowy elements that hinder Ghana’s road to peace and prosperity”.
IMF programme & economic stability
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board last year approved a $950-million loan for Ghana to support a reform programme aimed at faster growth and job creation, while protecting social spending.
Apart from reforming some public sector organisations, the main pillars of the IMF programme include structural reforms to strengthen public finances and fiscal discipline by improving budget transparency, cleaning up and controlling the payroll, right-sizing the Civil Service and improving revenue collection.
While commending the government for its effort to use the IMF facility to put the country’s macroeconomic trajectory back on track with some tough decisions, Mr Jackson said “more difficult steps, including some that may be politically unpopular, needed to be taken in the weeks and months ahead”.
He, therefore, urged the government to remain steadfast in its commitment to the IMF programme, especially as it sought to address debts owed to the various state-owned enterprises, particularly in the power sector.
Build Kingdom of God  
The Executive Bishop of the ACI, Bishop Ebenezer Obodai, urged Christian business leaders to be mindful of the Kingdom of God, as their wealth was given to them for a purpose.
The Pastor in charge of the Airport Residential Area branch of the ACI, Rev. Kennedy Okosun, also urged Christian entrepreneurs and business leaders to conduct their businesses in an ethical manner and also as a means to build the Kingdom of God.


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