General News of Thursday, 1 November 2012

Source: Kojo Smith

Mahama 'Punches' Nana Addo's 'free free'

President John Mahama, flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress, on Tuesday at the Institute of Economic Affairs Presidential Debate Series in Tamale clashed with Nana Akufo-Addo, Flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party over what he describes as confused and impracticable polices on health and education.

The President came hard on the NPP flag bearer for distorting facts on NHIS and conjuring figures to justify his unrealistic free SHS policy to win votes.

On the issue of education, while Nana Akufo-Addo reiterated his position in the free SHS policy, President Mahama noted that “an NDC government will concentrate and invest more at the basic level of the nation’s education; which is the foundation of our entire educational system.”

Nana Addo, however, argued that if the wastes in the educational sector were curtailed, educational expenditure released timeously, and skills training were introduced to absolve all young people, the nation’s educational system could be made much better.

President Mahama, however insisted, “we are already spending 27% percent of the budget on education alone so to close the gap at the basic and the secondary level which forms the foundation for the children.”

According to President Mahama, “we [NDC] will target our investment to the places where it will benefit majority of the people and therefore target the funding gap at the basic level, technical and vocational level and in that priority target secondary and tertiary education.”

The matter of health provoked considerable debate as the NPP Presidential candidate launched an attack against the National Health Insurance Scheme saying “the NPP left the NHIS as an institution in surplus of over GHC 300 million. Today, the NHIS is in deficit of monies close to the 300 that were in surplus.”

“We will stop the use of NHIS funds to fund other activities of government which has become a feature of the management of the NHIS in the NDC era… Secondly we will restore confidence in the system.”

President Mahama, however, refuted the claim saying, “Nana has kept going at the NHIS and they have kept rebutting. I don’t know why he keeps digging this. The NHIS has grown phenomenally since the NDC came into office… we [NDC] have invested heavily in the health sector; we have invested in district hospitals and polyclinics across the country and that is why more people under the NHIS are having access to health care… This is not an NHIS that is shrinking, this is an NHIS that is expanding.”

“The NHIS is not dead, it is not dying and will not die under my watch,” he argued.

“In terms of training of human resource we are building nurses and mid-wife schools across the country; we have opened health assistance training schools across the country. And also provide regional hospitals in every region.”