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Opinions Sun, 6 Jan 2019

Two years of change: Akufo-Addo and Bawumia are promise keepers

In 2016 the Ghanaian people overwhelmingly voted the New Patriotic Party led by Nana Akufo-Addo in an election many analysts believed was going to be tightly contested. The NPP’s landslide victory heralded a new sense of hope that governance anchored on integrity was about to be restored, that economic prosperity was on its way with well-paying jobs as by-product of the expected economic boom, that corruption would be fought and the most vulnerable of our society catered for.

That no child would be left behind because the circumstances of his birth would not permit his parents to afford the cost of his education. It was expected that the son of Mba Alhassan in Gbungbaliga in the Yendi Municipality would have same opportunity to secondary education like the son of Dr. Kwame Despite in Accra.

In fact, these were not hopes. They were the covenants that the NPP under the able leadership of President Akufo-Addo took before the Ghanaian people gave them a resounding victory at the polls.

On 7th January 2017, President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr. Bawumia lifted the divine books, recited the sacred words of our constitution and reaffirmed their commitment to meeting the hopes and fulfilling the aspirations of the Ghanaian people.

It is therefore important to examine the body of work done in the light of the promises made to the Ghanaian people.

THE FACTS BEFORE THE CHANGE:

The conditions in our country prior to the December 2016 elections had deteriorated beyond description. The frustrations were high. The economy had collapsed! In fact, it recorded the lowest growth rate in 20 years! The cedi had become the standard reference for a badly managed currency globally. The energy crisis had crushed many businesses leading to huge job losses. The debt levels were unsustainable according to the IMF. We were running a double digit deficit! There was a freeze on public sector hiring which culminated in the birth of the Unemployed Graduates Association. For the first time in our history, teacher and nursing trainees were not posted right after their training!

The Agricultural sector, which in post-independent Ghanaian history, played a pivotal role in providing jobs whiles contributing significantly to the national economy had taken a nosedive. Inflation was high and interest rates were high! The manufacturing sector suffered consistent decline.

In sum, like the Northern Rap King, Maccassio would say things were basaaaa!!!!

THE FACTS AFTER THE CHANGE:

In the last two years, the President and his dependable Vice President have worked so hard to fulfill many of the promises they made to the Ghanaian people. The facts from various sectors of the economy confirms this conclusion.

ECONOMY

The economy under President Akufo-Addo has witnessed significant growth in all sectors. Ghana in 2017 recorded the highest growth rate in the whole world. Prior to this, President Akufo-Addo had promised to ensure a rebound of the economy. For four years under President Mahama we saw the economy declined from over 7% in 2008 to a little above 3% in 2016.

After pursuing prudent economic policies in the last two years, the Ghanaian economy has recovered and is now the wonder of the world. Inflation has seen a downward trend, recording the lowest rate in the last four years. The debt to GDP ratio has declined from 73% to below 70%. Budget deficits have significantly reduced. Interest rates have gone down. The international reserves have improved to cover for more than three months of import cover. The manufacturing sector has seen a turnaround from its previously negative growth.

True to the promises made, the NPP Government has ensured reliable power supply to enhance economic productivity. Electricity tariffs have been reduced for both domestic and industrial consumers.

The NPP in its 2016 manifesto promised to abolish nuisance taxes to encourage production. The Government’s maiden budget in March 2017 abolished and reduced as many as 17 such nuisance taxes!

From the economic data, it thus appear that President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia have kept their promise of ensuring prudent economic management.

JOBS

One of the critical issues in the 2016 elections was graduate unemployment. In fact, six out of the eight years mandate of the NDC was used to pursue IMF inspired polices which exacerbated graduate unemployment to worrying levels. In addition, the economy saw considerable decline in growth rate which had a telling effect on new job openings.

With an estimated 300,000 fresh graduates from the tertiary institutions every year, the new Government inherited a six year old policy which had placed a freeze on new public sector hiring.

In the last two years, this Government has shown commitment in tackling the problem of graduate unemployment. This commitment has manifested itself in the number of public sector recruitments and new employment interventions as well as new job openings in the private sector. The job statistics have been impressive!

For example, data released by the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations gives a breakdown of jobs created by the Akufo-Addo Government. As of March 2018, the Works and Housing Ministry had created 4,039 jobs. The Youth Employment Agency recruited 15,000 Community Protection Personnel and 3000 Arabic instructors.

The Forestry Commission recruited over 200 permanent graduate employees as well as over 50,000 graduates and non-graduates jobs for a three year period. The Ghana Airport Co Ltd coupled with Ghana Civil Aviation Authority have recruited 667 people as of March 2018. In the transport sector, 894 jobs have been created since January 7, 2017. These are mainly jobs by Government agencies under the transport ministry not from private sector players under the Ministry.

The Trade and Industry Ministry as of March 2018 had created 31,171 new jobs! The cocoa pollination by the COCOBOD has created 20,000 new jobs and Codapec (Spray Gangs) created 56,991 jobs.

More importantly, the Ghana Education Service under the Ministry of Education has created almost 30,000 teaching and non-teaching jobs. The Ministry’s partnership with Buffer Stock Co Ltd has led to 1000s of supply contracts under the Free SHS policy which has created substantial number of jobs! The new FPSO, according to Deputy Energy Minister, Dr. Mohammed Amin Anta created 12,000 new jobs in the upstream sector. There has been a great number of new jobs in the downstream sector with agencies like NPA, BOST, GO ENERGY etc leading the way!

Our nation’s most ambitious job creation intervention has been the Nation Builders Corps. This intervention has provided 100,000 jobs to graduates. Nkrumah had the Workers Brigade, Mahama had the Looters Brigade and Nana Addo has NABCO!

Admittedly, much more ought to be done to continuously address the issue of graduate unemployment in Ghana. While these numbers are very impressive for a two-year-old government, there are still many graduates without jobs. I have no doubt that if this Government is allowed to govern for long, the story of our nation would be different!

PRO-POOR INTERVENTIONS

Apart from the laying a solid economic foundation which has birthed decent jobs for young Ghanaians, President Akufo-Addo has fulfilled some of his major promises which were designed to provide safe haven for the poor in our society. To this end, Government has increased capitation grants, expanded the school feeding programme, increased allocations for LEAP, and revived the dead NHIS.

The most important social intervention programme in our nation’s history has been the FREE SHS POLICY. It is the uncompromising view of the President that cost should never a barrier in the pursuit of knowledge. Prior to the elections, he forcefully canvassed the view that the nation’s resources ought to be directed to the funding of education to allow Ghanaian children, regardless where and how they were/are born, to have access to FREE QUALITY SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL education.

In the last two years, the NPP government has implemented the policy. This has benefited over 180,000 students who would have been left on the streets simply because their parents cannot afford the cost of Senior High School education.

Further, President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia have kept their promise to restore teacher and nursing training allowances which were scrapped under President Mahama. This intervention is benefitting nearly 80,000 students from public teacher and nursing training institutions in Ghana. It has further brought huge economic relief to parents of these students.

CONCLUSION:

Vice President Dr. Bawumia rightly stated during a National Policy Summit in Tamale, “What is incontrovertible is that without Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, there will be no restoration of teacher training allowances, no restoration of nursing training allowances, no Zongo Development Fund, no Planting For Food and Jobs, no National ID Cards, no Digital Address System, no paperless ports, no Development Authorities, no strong macroeconomic fundamentals, no Rehabilitation of VALCO, no US$2 billion innovative infrastructure financing arrangement with Sinohydro, no steps to establish integrated bauxite and aluminium industry, no mobile money interoperability, no reduction in electricity prices, no Change in the driver’s license applications, no Special Prosecutor on Corruption, no revival of Ghana’s railways, no transparent allocation of Ghana’s oil blocks.”

From the foregoing, it is reasonable to conclude that the NPP needs to be supported to continue its transformation agenda. It has to be maintained for the good of Ghana. To paraphrase Sister Afia’s song, if you see the economy j3 j3, if you look at the job numbers j3j3, if you see everything j3 j3, j3 j3 oooo j3 j3!!

Columnist: Akbar Yussif Rohullah Khomeini,
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