General News of 2014-03-06

One-time health premium won’t work – Fiifi Kwetey

The Minister of State in-charge of Finance and Allied Institutions, Mr Fiifi Kwetey, has condemned the one-time health insurance premium which was trumpeted by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) during the 2008 general elections.

He said, “Nowhere in the world has such a policy been implemented. I told the late President John Evans Atta Mills that the one-time premium will not work, so let’s gather courage and tell Ghanaians and he agreed, but others said no”.

Mr Kwetey made the disclosure in Accra during a lecture organized by the United Cadres Front of the NDC as part of activities marking Ghana’s 57th independence anniversary and to deliberate on the President’s state of the nation address delivered to Parliament recently.

He said Former President John Agyekum Kufuor had the courage to make a confession on the issue of the number of ministers he appointed, adding that when the former President was previously in opposition he thought he could govern with few Ministers, but upon assumption of office, he realized it was not so. “Because we did not have the courage, so we kept dilly-dallying on the issue of one-time health insurance premium, until the 2012 elections and we did not use it again,” he stated.

Mr Kwetey said in the 2008 general elections, the New Patriotic Party had the media solidly behind it, yet the party lost the elections, saying “it is not simply because the NDC is a great party but rather the people of Ghana were discerning. We are doing short-term things now, but in the long run, it is going to be hard.” He advised politicians to be mindful of the realities on the ground before making any campaign promises, proclaiming that former President Jerry John Rawlings never made promises, but was able to convince Ghanaians to vote for him in 1992 and 1996.

He observed that government’s annual salary expenditure by 2009 was GH¢2.5 billion but by the end of 2013 it had ballooned to GH¢10.5.

He said currently, for every GH¢100 income that was generated by the state, GH¢85 was used to pay salaries of government workers, who represented only two per cent of the entire population.

“Because of the huge government expenditure on salaries, the district assemblies’ common fund is in arrears of eight months, which is stifling many projects in the districts”, the minister said.

He urged Ghanaians to patronized and promote made-in-Ghana products so that the Cedi would gain grounds against major foreign currencies such as the dollar. The lecture was attended by cadres from the Greater Accra Region and some regional representatives.