General News of Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Source: myjoyonline

Mahama must take radical decisions - Bright Simons

Barely twenty four hours after the president was sworn in, expectations are high among civil society groups who expect the new government to embark on radical policy shifts to move the country away from the same old methods of doing things.

Speaking on JOYNEWS Current Affairs Program, pm: Express, Bright Simons of IMANI Ghana said by the end of the president’s 4 year term of office, he expects major shake ups in energy and gas, aluminum management, cocoa processing and a clear policy on investment in infrastructural development.

He said, the country has gone through a lot and as a new president, much will be expected from him in all sectors.

Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) he said has 45,000 barrels a day capacity which has been made useless. He said, “what we need to do is to sell equity in it (TOR) to strategic investors so that government becomes a shareholder or give it a monopoly ticket for certain government business and then based on that sell debt and bonds to private market, rather than chasing foreign countries for money”

Mr. Simons told host Stephen Anti, in order to make things right, certain radical decisions need to be taken to propel the country to a level of development beyond the mediocre limit that governments have set for themselves.

He bemoaned the inability of successive governments to reform the cocoa sector to make it possible for Ghana to process cocoa with the intent of adding value.

He said much lip service has been paid to cocoa processing over the years and yet the commodity is still not refined or processed in Ghana. COCOBOD, according Mr. Simons, has become a lumbering bureaucracy and so powerful in the sector; yet generating nothing.

“For this new government to take up issues and deal with them, it will require certain political philosophy whereby cash crop farming will be given a chance to flourish”.

About the aluminum sector, Bright Simons wants a clearly outlined program for industrial transformation that is based on private capital and also public welfare. He said, aluminum should be one of the benchmarks of the country’s growth and development.

Mr. Simons also touched on the essence of LPG and the overall management of the energy sector. This is one area he expects government to make radical changes to maximize its use.

“People should get access to certain information about the Ghana National Gas Policy- as to its progress and short falls which will be brought out into the public domain for discussion”.

Top on the list of IMANI Ghana’s expectation of the new Mahama administration, is a review of government’s investment policy in infrastructure; roads, railways among others.

According to him, such a review should be done every year and every month so that parliament can evaluate whether one mile of road or one kilometer has been constructed.

In his first term of office, IMANI Ghana expects the John Mahama government to completely overhaul the existing funding mechanisms of the National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS).

He argued that, being a purely government funded health insurance system is not sustainable. He said, it is that type of funding which first led to the cash and carry which nearly collapsed the health system.

To sustain the NHIS, IMANI argues that government must go back to the original blue print that requires higher premiums, and not necessarily higher taxation.