Editorial: 24-hour economy policy must not be rushed through

The former president, who is seeking a return to Jubilee House on the ticket of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, not long ago promised to introduce a 24-hour economy when voted as the next President of Ghana.

“A new NDC administration will work urgently to equip our youth with the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills needed for a sustainable future. We will introduce a 24-hour economy with incentives and tax breaks for manufacturers who will run extra shifts to create more room for employment.” Mr. Mahama said this in a statement to commemorate the 2023 International Youth Day.

Addressing the 9th Ghana CEO Network Business Cocktail, Mr. Mahama said the proposed 24-hour economy forms part of the NDC’s vision to build Ghana, premised on building an industrialised, inclusive and resilient economy that creates well-paying jobs, creating an equitable, healthy and prosperous nation.

He also explained that legislation will be introduced to support businesses operating 24/7, including labour laws, tax incentives and regulations that ensure workers’ rights and protection.

“Favourable tax policies will be adopted so that businesses can reduce their operational costs and stay competitive. Companies that sign up for the 24-hour economy policy will enjoy smart metering calibrated to charge a lesser tariff (per KW/h) for power consumed during off-peak hours at night based on a Time of Use (ToU) tariff system,” he stressed.

His promise has since sparked public debate on the subject with divergent views. Whereas a section of Ghanaians believe a 24-hour economy is a game changer, others oppose that notion.

Political commentators from both sides of the divide have devised means to ensure the proposal resonates well with Ghanaians or water down any potential significance.

We have, however, observed in the media space that some NDC communicators struggle to explain the 24-hour economy to the ordinary Ghanaian. This situation, if not checked, could inure to the advantage of their opponents, whose aim is to discredit the policy.

We monitored an interview a renowned Economist Kwame Piannim granted JoyNews yesterday, in which he raised cogent points about the proposed 24-hour economy. He said the policy lacks clarity.

Kwame Piannim does not believe Ghana has enough electricity to run three shifts. He suggested that the policy should be thought through carefully to identify what could be done to implement it properly.

“We started the 24-hour economy. I was Minister of Finance and we told PwD that all the repairs should be done at night so that traffic would move. But when they started doing that, the managers were refusing to go and supervise because they didn’t have security to go around.”

We must admit here that, in principle, plans to transition the Ghanaian economy into a 24-hour run have our full endorsement. Suffice it to say, we are yet to be convinced that the nation is infrastructure-ready for such a bold move.

It is worth noting that the 24-hour economy proposal was contained in the 2020 manifesto of the NDC. So, after all these years, with the benefit of hindsight, by way of economic challenges, we can only assume that proponents might have compiled a comprehensive plan for implementation.

When the NPP was preaching free senior high school in 2008, there was a similar hue and cry about the policy, but given the chance, the government boldly implemented it.
Today, we are told that over one million children of school-going age have now been enrolled in the various senior high schools in the country.

Like the free senior high school policy, this 24-hour economy will have its own challenges, which may not be unsurmountable.

However, we think that the government must first put measures in place to ensure the sustainability of the policy if it is to be implemented.

The 24-hour economy, we are told, will leverage industrialization, which consumes electricity. Ghana has experienced severe electricity supply challenges and this means that the electricity capacity in the country must be expanded to meet the three shifts being proposedto help mechanise agriculture, promote agro-processing and manufacturing industry and transform Ghana into an import substitution and export-led economy.


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