President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the creation of new regions presents the government, the opportunity to avoid urban sprawling that has characterised some cities and towns in the country.
He said the negative effects of these unattractive towns and cities had mainly come with old and outdated urban planning, which had come at a huge cost to city authorities and its residents.
Delivering the "State of the Nation Address 2018" in Parliament on Thursday, President Akufo-Addo said the rapid and uncontrolled spread of physical developments in and outlying of towns and cities, for some time, had witnessed points, and counterpoints, in public discourse, all geared towards addressing the intractable problem of unattractiveness and, unsanitary conditions,, confronting the country's towns and cities.
He noted that experiences abound that "political capital does not necessarily have to be the site of all the institutions, and this would guide us in the setting up of the new regions."
The President said, last week, the Jubilee House was resounded to a lot of celebrations, as it witnessed the handing over ceremonies of the constitutional instruments to the six newly created regions.
It took 18 months of very hard work and some complicated maneuvering to create additional six regions, he said, pointing out that the new regions would, would open up the country, and thereby, ensure that no one felt cut off from the centre.
The requests and agitations for the creation of new regions, President Akufo-Addo alluded to, had been long-standing, "and we have somehow never got around to dealing with them.
"The first petition for the creation of Oti Region, for example, dates back to 1954. Mr. Speaker, it was time to deal with these outstanding issues so that we could get ahead with the business of developing our country," he said.
President Akufo-Addo assured that the government would ensure that no corner of the country was left behind.
"It is for this reason that we have created the three development authorities. It is for this reason that we have re-aligned the national budget to ensure that every constituency gets the cedi equivalent of $1 million a year for priority projects.
"I am able to state, and every member of this House should be able to testify, that work is going on in each of the 275 constituencies around the country," he revealed.
He mentioned that the water and toilet provision segment of the Special Development Initiatives were taking place in every constituency.
"We came into office with a plan, Mr. Speaker, and I am happy to say that we are working and delivering in accordance with that plan.
He said the government had, also, embarked on another aspect of its ambitious decentralisation programme that is the exercise to expand full democracy to local government.
In addition to the creation of 38 Municipal and District Assemblies, and the elevation of 29 Districts to the status of Municipalities, the Bill for the amendment of Article 55(3) of the Constitution has been gazetted, to pave way for the direct, popular election, on partisan basis, of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
President Akufo-Addo announced that it is most likely a Referendum would be held on the Bill, alongside the Unit Assembly and District level elections this year.
The President called for a repetition of the bi-partisan support that made
successful the referenda for the new regions, to ensure the success of the impending referendum.
Additionally, a multidisciplinary panel of experts is being assembled to plan, cost, and schedule and helps implement a roadmap for the election of MMDCEs.
Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)