Feature Article of Monday, 3 December 2012
Columnist: Nyarko, Kingsley
Political parties are formed to capture political power through the ballot in order to implement their policies and programmes. These identified programmes and policies, usually captured on the manifesto of the parties are meant to improve the lot of the people and also shape the outlook of the economy. The New Patriotic Party—an offshoot of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) was formed in 1992 to, among other things, improve the fortunes of the economy via pragmatic programmes and interventions and empowerment of the citizenry to attain better futures and improved living standards.
The motivation of the NPP to ensure that the citizenry is the center of governmental programmes and interventions is captured in the preamble of the 2009 constitution of the party. The party’s policy according to the wisdom of J.B. Danquah “is to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property owning democracy in this land, with the right to life, freedom and justice, as the principle to which the government and laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen.” This is the belief of the party and leaders of the party ensure that the citizenry is the beneficiary of the fruits of democracy.
In addressing the topic, we need to ferret out whether the New Patriotic Party has reasons to boast of any achievements during her tenure in office and a justification to ask Ghanaians for another mandate. And the answer is an emphatic yes. The 8 year rule of the Kufuor-Mahama led administration saw far-reaching positive changes and improvements in every facet of our economy. Most of the achievements during the stewardship of the NPP were unprecedented and gargantuan. As a matter of fact, it was during the era of the NPP that Ghanaians tasted and enjoyed the fruits and benefits of real democracy. The breeze of democracy didn’t only blow within the country; but transcended to affect nations beyond the borders of our country. What the National Democratic Congress had struggled to achieve in her 19 years of misrule and bad management of the economy, the NPP was able to accomplish within 8 years
Ladies and gentlemen, when the NPP was honoured by the electorate to assume the leadership of our great country, the economy was in a state of near-collapse; unfortunately, on life support. In fact the party was bequeathed with an economy that had been destroyed through greed, corruption, incompetence, misrule, and misguided policies and programmes. The most unfortunate aspect of this precarious nature of the economy was that the economic management team was led by our late President Mills. Is it therefore surprising that under his presidency, the economy was, and is still in shambles?
When the NPP took over power in 2001, the macroeconomic indicators were very weak: interest rates were hovering around 50%, inflation was about 41%, the cedi had become valueless to the extent that both importers and exporters were forced out of business, our debt stock had reached unprecedented levels, unemployment was very high, the private sector was crippled, etc. The broken nature of the economy compelled President Kufuor to cash in on the highly indebted poor countries initiative (HIPIC) support. Currently, the NDC government has increased our debt stock from $8.1 billion or ¢91 trillion in 2008 to $32.2 billion or ¢322 trillion in three years. I tell you, should the NDC continue after the December polls; our country will have a bleak future! But, I am convinced this deadly mistake we made in the last election by electing the NDC will never occur again.
In the midst of these daunting challenges, the Kufour led administration didn’t complain as their colleagues in government have been doing since their inauguration; instead, they buckle down, put their shoulders to the wheel, and worked assiduously to improve the living standards of the people. They didn’t allow the challenges to overwhelm them; instead, they sought prudent interventions to enable them to surmount them. The NPP is of the belief that regardless of the severity of challenges, with pragmatic programmes, they will be overcome. This attitude of the party represents the tenacity of purpose of our forebears. That was why when they came and saw, they conquered. And they will conquer the myriad of problems the country is facing again when they are given the mandate in this week’s elections. In the succeeding paragraphs, I will come out with cogent and conspicuous evidence to justify the transcending influence of the NPP in the socio-economic development of our dear nation. They promoted and provided prosperity for the people; and will continue in this direction till they are able to provide prosperity for majority of the people.
During the reign of the NPP administration, they succeeded in rescuing the economy from virtual destruction. They ensured that the fundamentals of the economy were strengthened in order to provide the platform for rapid socio-economic development. Although, they met inflation at about 41%, they were able to reduce it to 9.8% in 2006 (single digit) and later 18% in 2008 (it went up partly because of the credit crunch that disoriented world economies). By the time they exited office, they had slashed down inflation by 23 percentage points. Interest rate was also reduced from 50% to 25% during the same period. As we are speaking now, interest rate still hovers around 25%. This should tell you the cosmic difference between the NDC and the NPP with regard to the management of the economy.
Ladies and gentlemen, from 2001 to 2008, the introduction of the mass cocoa spraying exercise, subsidized fertilizer, prompt payment of bonuses and the importation of 1,331 brand new tractors contributed in soaring the annual cocoa yield from 350 metric tonnes in 2000 to 750 metric tonnes in 2006 with an income of US$1bn to the national kitty. This success alone propelled Ghana from the 4th position to the 2nd position in the ranking of the world’s leading producers of cocoa. Again, as a result of the mass spraying of cocoa, Ghana recorded last year cocoa yield of 1,000,000 metric tonnes—an unprecedented feat in the annals of cocoa production in the country.
As a result of the pragmatic and far-reaching interventions the NPP government put in place, they were able to superintend over an expanded economy. They quadrupled the size of the economy from US$3.9m to US$16.3m during their reign in office. The expansion in the service sector (notably the telecommunication & banking) was as a result of the prudent policies implemented by the Kufuor government. By the time the NPP left office in 2008, they had recorded an economic growth of 8.4% (rebasing). As they progressively increased the yearly growth rate from 2001 to 2008, the NDC has been recording mixed growth rate since assuming the reigns of governance in the country. In 2009, the growth rate was 4.6%, 7.7% in 2010 and ended 2011 with 8.2%, excluding oil. Another remarkable feat the NPP chalked was the increase in the per capita income: it was increased from US$300 to US$700 by 2006, and was also able to drastically reduce the national poverty rate from approximately 50% to 28.5%. This obviously was as a result of enhanced living standards.
Apart from these economic achievements, they were able to implement social intervention programmes which went a long way in providing relief for a huge segment of our population. The introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Capitation Grant, the School Feeding Programme, the National Youth Employment Programme, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the Metro Mass Transit, among others were meant to provide space for the citizenry, especially the working class. Shockingly, the NDC has not been able to introduce a single major social intervention programme although they pride themselves as a social democratic party.
Ladies and gentlemen, to ensure that our scarce resources are judiciously used, the NPP government put in place measures to curb corruption in our society. Unlike the NDC who are milking the economy through massive and historic corruption, they ensured that they protected our fleeting resources in order for majority of the citizenry to benefit from their toils and hard work. Unlike the NDC who see corruption as a pastime, the NPP abhor the practice and thus ensured that programmes were put in place to guard against this canker. The passage of the Public Procurement Act, Financial Administration Act, Internal Audit Agency Act, the Office of Accountability Act, the Whistle Blowers Act, the establishment of the Fast Track Court, were all meant to reduce the impact of this societal evil on our society.
Ladies and Gentlemen, but for targeted investments and efficient management of the economy, the oil-find wouldn’t have become a reality. The NPP administration was able to achieve this notable success as a result of visionary and smart leadership offered by President Kufuor and his lieutenants. Success is not achieved by visionless leaders; neither is it achieved by the fearful; those who have achieved remarkable successes are the visionary and bold ones. These are the leaders who provide hope and inspire confidence in the electorate. But for the vision of President Kufuor and his competent lieutenants, the single spine pay policy wouldn’t have become a reality. This pay policy, which has been implemented badly by the NDC government, was actually the brainchild of the Kufuor-Mahama administration.
As the NPP is seeking your mandate again, they come to you with a testament of economic, social, and political development and also a hope for the future. This hope you can find in their standard-bearer—Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He is a carrier of hope and vision. He has indicated without ambiguity, that he will navigate the economy from the nadir of economic destruction to the apex of economic prosperity. He has stated that education will occupy his prime attention in making Ghana an industrialized nation. He has, as part of his agenda promised to make the teaching profession an attractive and cherished one for all practicing and prospective teachers. He is fully convinced that making senior high school free without compromising its quality will provide opportunities for most of our young ones to acquire the essential skills to make then functional elements in society. Nana Akufo Addo, together with his party is determined that when given the mandate once again by Ghanaians, will make the nation a better place to abode.
Brothers and sisters, after reading this article, you have to understand that the battle is almost over and thus we have to work around the clock to win a resounding victory for the NPP. Victory will surely come; but not after hard work, diligence, and determination. The future looks bright, but not under the failed leadership of President Mahama and his former boss. When we are able to work assiduously for the rejection of President Mahama at the next polls, and get Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to the Jubilee house, we will get that bright future we are seeking for our children and posterity. God bless Ghana!!
Source: Kingsley Nyarko, Psychologist, Accra (firstname.lastname@example.org)