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Opinions Wed, 7 Jun 2017

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Fast-track safety net for the underprivileged

One of the mandates of governments is to ensure that the country is administered satisfactorily, with the citizenry living in peace and comfort. The expectation of most citizens of any country is for their governments to protect their fundamental human rights and ensure that they receive the best attention, irrespective of one’s background.

In the early days when society was evolving, a philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, put out a hypothetical principle of the state of nature where ‘humans lived in a state of nature that people will not be able to love permanently, everyone against everyone, power between the strongest. In this nation state, one must be the strongest in order to survive (survival of the fittest). In order to survive, there are laws we must follow to ensure our security because of fear’.

This Hobbes theory gradually fizzled out as society started growing to become dynamic. Many other philosophers, as well as sociologists, started developing some other theories which made it possible for man to live in peace and harmony with his neighbours.

As this development continued to unfold, citizens started surrendering their rights and power to one centralised body called the government in whose hands all power of the state was vested.

It is in this light that various governments across the world show determination to administer the state in such a way that all the things that need to be done are put in place, so that man can take care of his needs without much hustle.

It is the duty of the state to ensure that the environment is safe for everyone to lead his or her life uninterrupted and go about his or her duties without fear of intimidation.

There are also those in the weaker bracket who do not match up to what others in the privileged class or the elitist group have and, therefore, constitute the vulnerable in society.

Among this unfortunate group of people are the physically challenged, majority of whom are unable to enjoy three square meals a day, foot their medical bills and have an appreciable place to call home. Meanwhile, this group of people has the same obligation as the able-bodied or well-to-do in society. Under the circumstances that they find themselves, the only option left is for them to beg for alms to feed themselves and sometimes their dependents or rely on the benevolence of the kind-hearted in society.

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on May Day, said: “We can, together, build a new Ghanaian civilisation, where there is fair opportunity for all in education and health, where hard work, enterprise and creativity are rewarded, where there is an abundance of decent jobs with good pay, where there is a dignified retirement for the elderly, and where there is a social safety net for the vulnerable and disadvantaged”.

This refreshing assurance coming from the President is heart-warming and it is the expectation of all that the policies and programmes that have been outlined by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration will surely bring about the relief that Ghanaians expect.

The one-district, one-factory, $1 million for every constituency, one-village, one-dam, among other policies, are the surest ways to deal with the issues that confront the most vulnerable groups in society

Heritage Fund

One other area that needs to be looked at is the Heritage Fund into which some amount of the oil revenue is kept for posterity. It is a well thought idea to keep some money to take care of the future needs of this country, especially about issues that affect the unborn generation. Oil deposits will surely run out one day and it was very commendable for the leadership of this country to emulate the example of Norway, the originators of the idea of stockpiling cash from oil proceeds for posterity. The history behind this laudable idea is that Norway, at the time this initiative was introduced, had no immediate use for the huge revenues that accrued from oil and it, therefore, proposed this idea of saving for the future.

Now, with Ghana, the terrain is very different; our social deficiencies are legion, unlike the Nordic country, and, therefore, the idea to reserve some funds for the future generation is very misplaced and makes absolute nonsense of the replication of what exists in Norway.

There are, indeed, very pressing issues which need urgent attention and resolution and these are very different from conditions that pertain in Norway. Above all, we have limited resources to take care of the numerous social problems that constantly confront the country.

There is also no welfare system in Ghana where the needs of the vulnerable could be catered for. The difficulties and struggles they go through daily is unacceptable and things should be streamlined for them to enjoy some form of cushioning from government.

I will, therefore, propose to the current administration to amend the laws governing the Heritage Fund to enable it to make use of the fund to address the pressing needs of the country.

One-district, one-factory

This is the policy that I have described, in an earlier article, as being so far the best policy initiative by the NPP adminstration which will eventually reduce the high unemployment rate in the country. It is definitely going to create jobs for the farmers who will cultivate the land and supply the raw materials for the factories. The local people will also benefit from jobs that will be created. Marketing will also start right at the farm gates and there is the likelihood that the government will be the major buyer of the finished products such as mango/pineapple and other fruit juices to be served to schoolchildren who benefit from the School Feeding Programme.

It will be very disingenuous if this project is truncated by any successive government, because of differences in ideology. This is an initiative that must be nurtured and made to stay permanently in our national discourse and, therefore, there is the need for a legislation to make it mandatory for all successive governments to subscribe and continue with the project of empowering the people in the rural communities as well as the deprived peri-urban communities.

Give the people hope

It, therefore, behoves us all to work towards improving the lot of the underprivileged group to restore the smiles that have been missing on their faces for this long period.

The government must, as a matter of fact, give the people hope and remain focused in its quest to transform this country and make it a paradise in the sub region.

Columnist: dailyguideafrica.com

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