The True Message On The State Of The Nation By The Minority In Parliament
continued from Monday March 4, 2013
Because of the recent free fall of the cedi a lot of local traders have had difficulty keeping their shops because of their inability to protect their working capital. This difficulty has been compounded by the invasion of Chinese and other foreigners in the retail trade. The effect is that most Ghanaian retailers are operating at losses and some have had to fold their operations. Another issue facing internal trade is the huge price differential between the farm-gate and the markets in the urban centers. These wide differentials are as a result of huge cost of transportation resulting from previous and current price escalation of petroleum products.
III. Manufacturing Performance
Manufacturing sector has been on the decline since 2008. Manufacturing share of GDP fell from 6.9% in 2009 to 6.7% of GDP in 2011and continues to dwindle. The growth in the sector was -1.3% in 2009 rose to 7.6% in 2010 but fell to 1.7% in 2011 and is expected to be below the 2008 level of 3.7% in 2012. A major cause of the dwindling manufacturing sector is the inappropriate tariff regime that does not allow fair competition against imports. It is also affected by ineffective border controls and loose inspection at the port that allows dumping of cheap goods on the local market especially from China. Other factors include lack of access to credit; high interest rates in spite of the trumpeted single digit inflation; high utility cost and the persistent intermittent power outages. The cumulative effect of these factors is the abysmally low productivity in the sector. These are the issues that need to be tackled boldly.
In the meantime, the northern region is still awaiting the 50,000 tons capacity sheanut processing factory promised in both the 2010 and 2011 budgets. The $11 million facility which has been installed is inappropriate to all intents. The sugar manufacturing project at Savelugu-Nanton; the revival of CEDECOM; the serious capitalization of SADA; the development of bauxite deposit at Kyebi and iron ore at Oppong Manse; and the industrial salt complex at Keta promised in 2010 and 2011 budgets have all proved to be empty promises.
Growth in the hotels and restaurants sector has not been encouraging in the last three years. The sector grew at 9.08% in 2008, fell to -3.8% in 2009 and saw a paltry growth of 2% in 2010 then for the first time in recent times grew at a negative rate of – 11% in 2011. While statistics for the 2012 is not available, the negative growth, indeed the recession in the hotels and restaurants sectors in 2011 points at serious difficulties faced by the sector which is one of the most promising sectors of our economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen every Ghanaian has the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities. This is provided for by
article 25(1) of the constitution. The various levels of education – basic, secondary and higher education have all been stressed to be made free at some point in time.
In this direction the Kufuor government deepened the FCUBE with the introduction of school feeding, capitation grant, free exercise books, and one lap-top per pupil project and the eradication of schools under trees project for which in two years over six hundred and eighty (680) schools were started. The Mills-Mahama government continued these projects and in the areas of the one lap-top per pupil and the exercise books to pupils projects expanded the frontiers. However, when they promised to expand the school feeding program to cover all primary schools countrywide they have not been able to cover 25% of the schools. Their 2012 manifesto which still emphasizes the need to expand coverage of the school feeding programme to all primary schools is an admission of failure!
What is outstanding is making secondary education free. Articles 38(1) provides that within 12 years into the 4th Republic basic education shall be free. After 12 years the state shall endeavour to make secondary education free. That is the meaning of Articles 38(2) and 25(1)(b) when read together. So when a President-in-waiting, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, speaks to this matter in the bold and pragmatic manner that he has done he is not day-dreaming. He is a hard thinker who is asserting how Article 25(1)(b) could, and must, be complied with.
The NDC in 2008 promised to “provide enough vocational institutes to absorb JSS graduates who do not gain admission to SHS or the Technical schools”. Not a single vocational institute was provided. (Ref. pg. 21 of Manifesto). Yet the 2012 manifesto re-hashes the 2008 declaration: students who do not qualify for technical or SSS after JSS will enter vocational institutes. The NDC has pledged to build in 4 years 2 technical schools in each of the 216 districts. This translates to 432 new technical schools. We live to see!
The NDC’s posture towards education since assuming office in 2009 has been characterized by stagnation, lack of vision and resourcefulness with the result that the situation in our schools have deteriorated, worsened and heading towards total collapse. In 2008 BECE pass rate of 62.12% (best in 15years WASSEC) fell to 50.21% in 2009 and to a sheer 46.93% (worse in 15years) in 2011. This is disastrous, to say the least.
The NDC has reiterated that they will reverse secondary education to 3 years in 2013 as if they had not done that already. But the two results of our 4year SHS groups clearly demonstrated improved performance compared to the 3year group thus making the choice clear.
Worse of all, for the first time this year two batches of SHS groups – 4year and 3year group – will be taking their WASSCE exam simultaneously. This certainly presents a crisis with implications for exam hall, the conduct of the exam and related admission issues of the students into our tertiary institutions particularly our universities. Yet, the government is silent about it as if all is well only for the nation to be confronted with the problem headlong.
Access to secondary and tertiary levels of education is becoming hardly affordable and thereby depriving many youth of their right to education which the constitution in Article 25(1) stresses it is.
During the 2012/13 academic year for instance, SHS fees have soared and range from GH¢500 to GH¢800 for boarders and GH¢300-GH¢400 for day students per term, mainly because government has not been paying tuition, subsidies and other grants to the schools regularly or on time, further making SHS less accessible to the vulnerable in the society. In the current academic year, fees charged in public universities were not less than GH¢1,200 per year while the private universities also charged not less than GH¢4,000 for one year. When these figures are compared to the average 2008 household income of GH¢1,217 per annum it becomes obvious that life is becoming unbearable for the ordinary person who wants to avail himself/herself of our educational opportunities. Herein lies the justification for a free SHS which also ensures a progressively universal SHS education.
LACK OF TEACHERS
Lack of teachers at the basic level continues to plague our schools. In 2011 for instance, the shortage of teachers at the basic schools hit 42,000. Only national service personnel, GYADA personnel and volunteer teachers without fundamental training in teaching were recruited to fill those vacancies and thus contributing further to the worsening of school quality assurance.
The NPP position on lack of sufficient trained teachers is to expand the present intake of teacher trainees from 9,000 by the 38 colleges of education to a maximum of 15,000. This immediate solution is feasible considering the fact that colleges like Ola, Foso and many of their kind with facilities lying idle can admit between 150-200 students more beyond their present intake levels. Only a little additional resource and infrastructural support may be needed.
To us the NPP, no better results can be achieved in our schools without putting the teacher first. Their welfare, promotion, conditions of service and their level of motivation are crital. Issues related to teacher accommodation, future housing needs and income level are our top priorities in ensuring better educated society for Ghanaians.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is not for nothing that the 1992 Constitution of Ghana under Art. 34(2) places tremendous emphasis on the ‘right to good healthcare’. In healthcare the operative word is ACCESS in all its forms (financial, geographical, quality). The NPP recognizes that the HUMAN PERSON should be central to all policies and has behind its health policy the dictum: ‘A healthy people make a healthy nation!’
Following from pro-active health sector interventions over the 2001 -2008 period of the Kufuor administration, the NDC administration was bequeathed very positive environment to carry the nation forward.
The implementation of a NHIS, a College of Physicians and Surgeons, a National Ambulance Service, expansion program, including the promotion of private sector participation, in the training of all categories of health professionals from Doctors, Pharmacists, Herbal Medical Practitioners, Optometrists, Physician Assistants, Nurses and Midwives, Laboratory personnel, etc, the all disturbing environment of ACCESS to healthcare for our peoples were being tackled with positive results.
The Free Maternal and Child care and the School feeding policies of the Kufuor administration could only be deepened in sync with the above to see a continuous improvement in our health statistics.
The interventions referred to above profoundly improved access to healthcare. Out-Patient attendance per capita over the years has been improving steadily over the years, thus, 0.45 in 2000, through 0.52 in 2004 to 0.81 in 2009. This is shown by number of Out-Patient attendance as 8.32million in 2000 through 11.01million in 2004 to 19.75million in 2009.
Maternal Mortality in 2008, though reported in 2010, was 350/100,000 live births.
These interventions with the associated positive trajectory emboldened the NDC in opposition to claim in their 2008 Manifesto that, ‘Within two years in Office’, the NDC will:
- 1. Significantly reduce current troubling and unacceptable trends in Infant/Child and Maternal mortality,
- 2. Review the NHIS to provide coverage for basic healthcare FOR ALL (emphasis ours) and review the un-wieldy bureaucracy and palpable corruption of the Scheme.
The NDC II Government has quietly shelved the much promised One-Time Premium Payment Policy! The same NDC Government will be advocating for an increase in the NHIL soon – because the NPP advised it?!!
While there is the need to beef up secondary and institutional care, there is significant evidence to show the lack in the needed concerted multi-sectoral actions to stem the scourge of communicable and sanitation-based diseases.
The nation’s rate of urbanization is 3.4%; the Urban population is currently 51%, but the access to improved Sanitation is about 18% in the Urban areas and 7% in the Rural areas.
From1998 – 2008 births in Ghana attended unto by skilled health workers went up from 44% to 59%. From 2000 to 2009 out-of-pocket payments went down from 47% of total health expenditure to 37%. Life Expectancy moved from 52 years in 1998 to 64 years in 2008.
Our Birth rate is now 32 births/1000 of the population whilst our Death rate is 7.7 deaths/1000 of the population. This implies an increasing population and with the improved Life Expectancy, a population that is growing older and hence the need to anticipate and prepare for the diseases of the old.
We are still confronted with the skewed deployment of health professionals, especially, Medical Doctors, such that 70% of all Doctors are concentrated in Accra and Kumasi, while only 4.2% cater for the healthcare needs of three Northern Regions.
Industrial disturbance in the health front and the lack of Trust in the Government is the order. Whilst Doctors went on a scaled industrial action and agreed to go back to the drawing board, Pharmacists have also bared their teeth. The other health professionals are also waiting on the side-lines!
The major social engineering feat chalked under the Kufuor administration, and which should make financial barrier to healthcare access a thing of the past, has been pushed unto the precipice. The ‘Cash-and-Carry’ of the pre-Kufuor times have been smuggled back into the system under the Health Insurance Scheme; a Scheme which was aimed at eliminating Catastrophic health expenditure! Even when the Laws of the NHIS has always frowned on payment at the point of service the NHIA appears to be flat-footed to take action.
A poorly, ‘catastrophic’, implementation of a Capitation Policy by way of a pilot, in 2012, in Ashanti has rather led to:
1. Back-door introduction of ‘Catastrophic Expenditure’
2. Distressed health provider facilities
3. Decreased access to primary health-care,
4. Increased need for admissions, because patients seek care when they are more seriously ill,
5. Increase in Child and Maternal mortalities, e.g. for the Kumasi metropolis, there were 127 Maternal deaths that increased to 204 from 2011 to 2012; and with respect to Child deaths there were 105, 106 increasing to 118 from 2010 through 2011 to 2012. The only change in the environment was the introduction of CAPITATION!
6. Coerced Provider collaboration, since most of the facilities would fold up if they opted out of the Scheme.
Since August 2012 most Providers, i.e. Hospitals, Pharmacies, and Healthcare Suppliers have NOT BEEN PAID by the NHIA!
The NHIA is seriously indebted to the Banks. The NHIA has mortgaged all its interests and contracted loans over and above its limits.
These explain the NHIA flat-footedness in sanctioning Provider Cash collections and why many facilities are DISTRESSED and some are no more accepting NationalHealth Insurance Cards!
In the meantime, in the midst of all the difficulties introduced by the Capitation Policy in Ashanti by the NDC Government it has proposed to roll out this Policy nation-wide!
Ghana, welcome to Capitation-NDC-style!!
G.ROADS AND TRANSPORT
Ladies and gentlemen, let us now deal with the performance of the NDC-led government since January 2009 to – date in Roads, Railways, Ports and Harbours and Aviation sectors and where found expedient comparisons would be made with the situation during NPP – led administration.
The nation’s road network suffered the worst maintenance in the history of our dear country during the administration of NDC-led government between January 2009 and December 2012.
Maintenance of our roads have not only been of poor quality and slow paced but has been of untimely interventions. This neglect has resulted in rapid deterioration of our roads.
Our roads are bedeviled with:
(a) Potholes (some of which have been expanded and deepened to be ‘manholes’ as a result of neglect),
(b) Very bushy roadsides reducing safety of motoring public and early failure of road edges, and
(c) Severe corrugated gravel surfaces with deep gullies that have affected the comfort of most rural communities and impaired their social and economic activities resulting in increasing their poverty levels.
Even roads of economic importance such as Bunso Junction – Koforidua – Mamfe, Anwiankwanta – Obuasi – Dunkwa – Ayamfuri – Tarkwa, Anyinam – Kwabeng to mention a few are in deplorable states as a result of delayed maintenance.
Besides, roads selected for either upgrading or rehabilitation to bituminous surfacing, and others for expansion by re-construction to accommodate increased vehicular traffic volumes and reduce traffic congestions have been progressed at unacceptably slow pace. The desired levels of service these roads are to provide for the growth of the nation’s economy and reduction of poverty are therefore not achieved.
The Achimota – Ofankor, Nsawam – Kwafokrom – Apedwa Junction, Madina Junction – Pantan Junction and Okomfo Anokye Hospital Roundabout – Bekwai Roundabout – Abuakwa (Kumasi – Sunyani road) road development projects are few of such projects in distressed situation.
Road Surface Condition
This slow pace of road projects coupled with poor and untimely road maintenance have severely affected the nation’s road surface condition.
In January 2001, when the NPP-led government took over the administration of this country, the road condition mix at the end of December 2000 was 29% good, 26% fair and 45% poor. This was improved to 36% good, 28% fair and 36% poor by the end of December 2004 and a further improvement of 42% good 26% fair 32% poor by the close of December 2008. There was a significant increase of 7% points during each of the 4-year period for roads in good surface condition, in spite of the rapid expansion of the road network during the two (2) terms.
There has not been significant improvement of road condition since January 2009, only an additional 1% of the network had had surface in good condition during the whole 4-year period of NDC – led administration. The condition mix as at the end of December 2012 stands at 43% good, 28% fair and 29% poor with virtually no change in the 2008 network size.
The procurement of road works during Mills – Mahama led government was mainly by sole sourcing in spite of being in an environment where expertise for construction and maintenance of roads and related structures is in abundance. The nation is blessed with many well established and experience road contractors.
This form of procurement had failed to introduce competitiveness into selection of contractors for road works. Most of the ‘sole sourced’ contractors are only interested in the ‘interest-free’ advance mobilization loans due them from the project and after which their performance had been found to be poor and sluggish.
This procurement method did not only cause the nation to pay more than the costs Engineers had projected for such works because the contractor is at liberty to select desired rates for the work items, but had during the four (4) year period killed the activeness and responsiveness of the road construction industry. The contractors are not cautious of their performance since selection had not been based on previous performances.
This procurement style had been so endemic in the Mills-Mahama led administration that loans contracted from Development Partners and foreign financial institutions had sole-sourced contractors attached whilst Cabinet seeks Parliamentary approval.
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