General News of Wednesday, 19 April 2017
The first 100 days of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration has been described as “good” but with more room for improvement by the heads of two institutions, the National Peace Council (NPC) and the Christian Council of Ghana in separate interviews in Accra.
However, the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Baah, said the first steps in getting the economic fundamentals right for the creation of jobs had been excellent.
With his major concern being the creation of jobs, Dr Baah said indications so far showed a positive trend in stabilising the economy.
The Chairman of the NPC, Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, and the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, were both of the view that the government had so far, within its first 100 days, credited itself with its “asempa” budget, the prompt appointment of ministers and its efforts to ensure that the change agenda in its manifesto was achieved.
“So far so good, we have had a peaceful transition, Parliament is in session, ministers and deputy ministers have been appointed, we do not have the municipal and district chief executives yet, but I think it’s a process,” Rev. Prof. Asante said.
For Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong too, the administration’s first 100 days so far had been good.
However, in relation to peace building and mobilising Ghanaians for improved development, the government was indicted by both for the incidences of vigilantism.
Politics of vengeance
Rev. Prof. Asante pointed out that right from the start, news of supporters seizing public facilities had characterised the administration’s first days.
“Unfortunately, people have not understood that the old order has changed, giving place to the new; but that does not also mean that one party has completely taken over everything from the other,” he pointed out.
For Rev. Prof. Asante, change meant a fresh start and a fresh look at the country’s politics.
“It isn’t that they did this when they came to power, so we would also do that,” he said, describing people with that perception as playing the “politics of vengeance”.
“Politics of vengeance undermines the rule of law, and the change we have asked for is not a repetition of the past,” Rev. Prof. Asante stressed.
The chairman was also of the view that past acts of the NPP, such as the training of private security personnel with outside expertise, was now a disadvantage to them.
Rev. Prof. Asante was, however, optimistic that all was not lost, with the government affirming its commitment to the rule of law and some members of the vigilante groups being prosecuted.
He tasked the government to, as a matter of urgency, work on the expectations of its supporters and all Ghanaians through sensitisation.
As a long-term measure, he called for a dialogue by all political parties, including smaller ones that did not have armed groups, for a decision to be made on whether they wanted vigilantism to be a feature of the country’s democratic governance.
“It is important not to politicise this, we ought to face facts as we ask ourselves, “Is this part of what we want?” he quizzed.
Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong said the acts of vigilantism could derail the government’s efforts to get all united behind its vision to develop the country.
He said the activities of such political groups were a minus in the first 100 days of the administration.
He asked the government not to take the Ghanaian voter for granted and believe that the voters would still vote for them if the destabilising activities of these groups persisted and destroyed the peace in the country.
“They should be legacy-conscious, at the end of their tenure, they should start asking themselves what they want to leave behind,” he noted.
“Democracy must respond to human needs,” he reminded the government.
He added that the government had to endeavour to leave a lasting heritage by which they would be remembered and not chaos through vigilante groups.
Growth and jobs
“For me, the most fundamental concern in the first few days is the initial steps in the creation of jobs.
“Job creation will result from a stable economy, growth and the private sector operating properly,” Dr Baah said.
He said currently, economic indications showed that interest rates were going down, the exchange rate was stable and inflation had dropped to 12.8 per cent.
These indicators, he said, would enable private enterprises to grow their businesses, which would result in employment opportunities.
He, however, acknowledged the efforts of previous governments in the achievements so far.
Dr Baah said 100 days was, however, a fraction of the over 1,400 days that made up the four-year tenure of the government and, therefore, it was not a good measure of performance.
In relation to steps taken to get the economy on a sound footing, the government was doing excellently, he said.
“There is still some time to assess the government on plans outlined in its budget that was delivered in March,” he mentioned.
Dr Baah said it took time for the plans outlined in the budget to go through parliamentary approval for implementation.