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General News of Saturday, 8 September 2012

Source: Daily Guide

Mahama’s Policy On Fire

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has torn into pieces President John Mahama’s recent policy statement in which he outlined a long list of things he would do to repair the economy of Ghana within the next three months.

President Mahama, who took over from the late President Mills, has promised to chart a new course in the delivery of good governance.

He outlined over 150 directives, instructions, orders to Ministers of State, including notices of cabinet meetings, which, according to the NPP, “he (the president) falls short of prescribing any new policies as solutions.”

In a statement issued in Accra yesterday on the instructions of the presidential candidate of the NPP, the communications director of the party, Nana Akomea noted, “He also conveniently forgets that he was vice president over the past three-and-a-half years during which he was the head of the Economic Management Team; Chairman of the Armed Forces Council, Chairman of the Police Council, and was given ‘every responsibility’ by the late President Mills.”

One of the things that caught the attention of the NPP was the president’s claim to have held down inflation, even though he made no mention of the cost of living, with the prices of everyday goods and services – bread, gari, rice, sugar, electricity, water, school fees, transport etc having gone up by triple digits over the last three-and-a-half years.

The main opposition party did not also share the president’s claim that the prices of food had been stable, insisting that “they have not” in spite of the fact that the country had been importing massive amounts of food.

The NPP therefore considered it a sad commentary that with more than 60% of Ghanaians engaged in agriculture, prices of food remained high; the country would still import tomatoes and maize.

Even though the president claimed that government had been able to curb the depreciation of the Cedi against the major trading currencies, especially the dollar, the NPP noted that over the past three-and-a-half years, the cedi lost 80% of its value, 20% in the first half of this year alone.

The NPP said, “It also represents a significant increase in cost of living as it has translated into price inflation for most goods that we imported and consumed.

“Inflation has amazingly remained stable whilst prices have raced through the roof.”

On job creation, a major campaign tool in elections, Nana Akomea stated that “the president did not appear to have clear data on the scale of the problem, and the NYEP is still piling up arrears in the ‘Better Ghana’ era.”

He said the approach by the ruling government to the crucial issue of job creation was characterised by ad-hoc measures, insisting that “there is absence of a nationally-defined policy to systematically promote employment in Ghana”.

“This is despite the fact that in the last quarter of 2008, Cabinet approved a well thought out, credible national employment policy and implementation action plan,” he noted.

For him and the NPP, “it is difficult to take any comfort in the president’s sentiments for the promotion of value addition as a process that will ‘throw up’ jobs.”

“If the president took a tour of our industrial areas, he would find that they have become shopping centres.

“If he couldn’t do all these in three-and-a-half years, it is inconceivable that he will achieve much in four months.”

He wondered whether the president’s statement was a veiled attempt to respond to the demands of the founder of the NDC and former President Jerry John Rawlings to demonstrate integrity in the country at the just-ended extraordinary congress in Kumasi.

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