NORPRA turns guns on Mills

…for allocating only GH¢25m to SADA

From William N-lanjerborr Jalulah, Bolgatanga

President John Atta Mills

AFTER SHOWERING praises on the Mills-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government on some of its pro-poor policies, including the setting up of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), the Bolgatanga-based pressure group, Northern Patriots Research and Advocacy (NORPRA), has sharply vented its spleen on the same government.

The group is demanding explanations from the Mills-led government, on why it was gradually reneging on its promises to allocate substantial amounts of state resources to address regional imbalances and inequalities in Ghana.

According to NORPRA, the government’s failure to capture SADA as its major pro-poor policy intervention in the 2011 budget statement, sends clear signals that SADA is not the government’s priority, and this is undoubtedly, not only deepening the feelings of Ghanaians that the Mills-led administration cannot be trusted and relied on to address regional inequalities, but also seriously undermines Article 36 (2d) of the 1992 Constitution, which enjoys the state to build a healthy and sound economy, by ensuring that there is even and balanced development of Ghana.

In a press statement copied to The Chronicle, and signed by its President, Bismark Adongo Ayorogo, NORPRA stated that one of the factors that led to the landslide victory of the NDC in the 2008 general elections was the social contract it entered inot with Ghanaians, particularly, those from the North, that it was fully aware of the serious deprivations and unacceptable levels of poverty in the North, and was therefore, going to take immediate and urgent steps to bridge the development gap between the North and the South, when given the mandate.

It was against this background that then presidential candidate Mills promised the setting up of SADA with initial start-up capital of GH¢200 million, with annual contributions of GH¢100 million each year, for 20 years from the government.

There was also a promise of the government leading a donor conference on Northern Ghana, with the aim of raising an additional $200 million from Ghana’s development partners and the private sector, in order to assure SADA of a firm and solid financial foundation.

However, Mr. Adongo and his pressure group are expressing shock that despite public outcry against the meager budget allocation to SADA in 2010, the government, for the second time, allocated only GH¢25 million to SADA, as stated in paragraph 905 of the 2011 budget statement.

NORPRA is contending that historically, the NDC government is known for its unfair treatment of the people of Northern Ghana, despite the overwhelming support it draws from the area.

It cited a World Bank report in 1998, which indicated that while the government spent $22.05 and $22.09 per pupil in the basic schools in the Upper East and West regions respectively between 1992 and 1994, it spent $174.24 and $61.22 per pupil at the same level of education in the Central and Volta regions respectively.

The group also stated that according to the Ministry of Finance Public Expenditure in 1997, the National Recurrent and Development Expenditure showed that the three Northern regions were much disadvantaged, while the Eastern, Ashanti and Volta regions got 16.7%, 16.7% and 13.6% respectively, the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions had to be content with only 8%, 2.3% and 0.8% respectively.

NORPRA regretted that in spite of these facts, a good number of people of Northern extraction remained committed to the NDC even in opposition, with the hope that they would be better of if the party was given the mandate, but unfortunately, very little commitment is seen in the Mills’ administration to bridge the South-North development.

Inspired by President Mills’ own words that “Ghanaians should always hold their leaders to the principles of accountability, and not limit their participation in the democratic process only to the periodic casting of ballot,” Adongo said his pressure group was ready to engage the government through a series of activities, to compel it deliver its part of the social contract it entered into with the people of Ghana.

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