Koforidua Sept 10 GNA - Mr John Dramani Mahama, Vice-Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), on Wednesday challenged the government to tell Ghanaians the true state of the national economy.
He observed that contrary to what the government was saying, that the economy was stable, the real truth is that "all is not well with the economy".
Mr Mahama, who was addressing the Koforidua Polytechnic Chapter of the Tertiary Educational Network (TEIN) of the NDC, said the poor state of the economy could be seen in the "government's rush to sell Ghana TELECOM to raise funds to balance the budget".
He said in 2005, donor partners advised the government to guard against "ostentatious living" but it failed to heed the advice and went on to "spend lavishly during the Ghana at 50 celebrations, purchased expensive presidential jets and later, embarked on the construction of a Presidential "mansion".
Mr Mahama said in 2000 during the NDC regime, prices of petroleum products went up by over 100 percent while cocoa prices fell drastically yet the government was able to manage the economy well. Mr Mahama said when the NPP came into power in 2001, it accused the NDC government of leaving behind a national debt of 41 trillion cedis but now the NPP, which was fortunate to benefit from huge donor inflows, cancellation of debts and HIPC funds had piled up a national debt of 91 trillion cedis.
On Polytechnic education, he said an NDC government would put the polytechnics at their rightful places, adding that, a nation could not be developed without manpower. He told the students that an NDC government would replace the present full cost recovery on academic user fees with cost sharing to enable as many qua lified students as possible to have access to tertiary education. Mr Mahama urged the government to stop glorifying itself on the provision of free basic education in basic schools and said the policy was a constitutional provision, which it could not ignore and even the policy was not being implemented well.
He said when the NDC comes into power, it would set up a committee to examine how much it would cost to educate a child at the basic level and come out with a realistic figure for the capitation grant to replace the current three Ghana cedis being spent on a pupil for the whole year. Mr Mahama appealed to the media to be fair and to stop "their praise singing" and tell the government the truth.
"You should tell the government that due to its bad economic policies it is going to lose the December elections so that it would not get the shock after counting of ballots on December 07". He said the NDC was committed to peace and advised supporters to go about their campaign in peace but cautioned that the message did not mean that they should not be vigilant to prevent any fraud during the polls.
Mr Iddrisu Mahama, National Youth organizer of the NDC, accused the government of failing to check corruption and said an NDC government would not demand evidence before investigating any corrupt practices. He appealed to the security agencies to be fair and firm in their dealings with all political parties to ensure peace before, during and after the December polls.
Mr Felix Amoah- Zafortor, President of TEIN, Koforidua Polytechnic Chapter, expressed worry about the present situation, where education, which is a constitutional right of every Ghanaian child of school going age, has turned to be a privilege under the government. "Now the trend has changed, only people from rich and well to-do families can become lawyers and doctors".
He spoke against high academic user fees and school fees "that had become the order of the day" and that most students who were offered admissions into tertiary institutions were not able to report for admission, simply because the fees attached to the admission letters were beyond them.
He said the SSNIT loan, of which previously, students took not less than GHC 24O per semester had been changed by the government to the Students Loan Trust, which only enables students to take just GHC140 per semester. Mr Amoah-Zafortor urged the government to address the issue of high unemployment, alarming rate of armed robbery, rampant contract killings and high cost of building materials. 10 Sept 08
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