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Rumor Mill of Monday, 18 February 2008

Source: Asare Otchere-Darko

Statesman Reveals NDC manifesto

The Statesman can exclusively reveal that the 2008 manifesto of the National democratic Congress is ready and if internal wrangling about its unusual 'audacity' and implementation difficulties can be overcome it should be launched soon, at least in parts.

Promising a ‘New Ghana' the NDC manifesto is notably, specifically silent on job creation. Indeed, the word ‘job’ is completely missing from the entire document.

The 63-page document is remarkably modest on details but uncharacteristically bold on promises, if compared to the party’s four previous manifestos and numerous national budgets.

A member of the NDC Manifesto Committee who spoke to The Statesman yesterday said, "The wider group even finds this manifesto too audacious.”

For instance, the NDC intends to use part of an increased military budget to build a “Military Industrial Complex”, for ship building, railways and coaches. Also to be manufactured are light weapons, tanks, drydock, and steel bridges.

On the nationally worrying issue of drug smuggling, the NDC’s ‘drug policy’ is curiously skinny. The two-line policy reads: the Narcotics Control Board’s “function shall be upgraded and overhauled to make it more potent to address all its recent shortcomings. It shall ensure that Ghana is no longer considered a major narcotic drugs transit point as the NPP has turned Ghana into.”

However, under Chapter IX (Ministry of Defense), the manifesto manages to find another line to an issue that the opposition party intends to make core to their electoral efforts. “Because of the recent narcotics menace in the country and the country emerging as a drug trafficking transit point, the Navy must be adequately resourced as a matter of urgency and shall be provided with long range radar systems to secure our shoreline and other water bodies.”

Though, the NDC has been actively lobbying Galamseys (unlicensed small-scale miners) to be activists and polling agents, the party’s mining policy is not at all kind to the interests of these local miners. The NDC is fully in support of the status quo. It pledges to provide “a conducive and investment-friendly atmosphere” for mining companies.

The manifesto boldly gives notice of the opposition party’s intention to involve government actively in the country’s industrialization efforts.

An Atta Mills government shall establish industries "through public/private partnership." Some of the industries to be established include cement production plants, aluminium smelter, gold refinery and ornament production, steel industry, copper, car assembly and manufacturing, manganese and bitumen production plants.

The NDC promises that "Ghana’s clothing and textiles and art work industries, as well as artifacts etc. shall be one of the best developed in modern Africa."

But, there is disappointment for those expecting clear egalitarian indicators from a party that claims it has metamorphosed in opposition from iconoclastic neo-liberalism to vociferous social democracy.

The manifesto gives no promise of continuing with the affordable housing scheme. It favours state-provided housing, but recognizes the mortgage opportunities now provided by a stable macro-economic environment. It says the state would build houses and condominiums to "accommodate the junior rank through to the highest [police] officer," while "mortgage facilities shall cover retired police officers."

Ironically, though the NDC has been vehement in its opposition to the NPP LEAP policy of giving free monies to the very needy, their manifesto promises the "setting up of a special mitigation fund." It adds, "A base amount to be determined shall be paid out on a monthly basis to such citizens and not more than three of their children."

The streets would be rid of "mentally deranged persons" under an Atta Mills government.

The NDC would be tough on refuse. Sanitary inspectors "will give spot fines, and or prosecute at sanitary courts."

The days of free parking are numbered. "The District shall provide public and street parking which will be tolled or metered."

District Assemblies "shall provide helicopters for pest control, local policing, disaster management, ambulance and rescue operation in their jurisdiction." The NDC Manifesto Committee member who spoke to this paper said that those who prepared the 63-page document, including himself, have been "arrogantly presumptive" that it covered every thing. But, it may still go through some changes as it is seen as too ambitious.

The document is absolutely silent on how the party intends to finance its manifesto promises.

Key pledges in NDC Manifesto

* Houses must be painted every year

* District/Municipal Assemblies shall levy a property tax of 20% which will go to the allodial owners of the land ad infinitum

* Every plot to be sold shall be serviced and not sold in its virgin form

* Govt to purchase land wholesale and sell them free-hold to developers

* TOR will not be sold to the private sector

* Attorney-General shall be independent

* Taxes and insurance charges on petroleum shall be reviewed

* To see Ghana halt, within 8 years, new HIV/AIDS infection

* Progressively do away with open drains

* All medical professionals shall be bonded to work for five years or redeem themselves by paying fines

* All dilapidated classrooms and under-tree learning will be a thing of the past within six years

* Personal housing loan schemes shall be made available to teachers

* Supermarket chains shall be encouraged

* Retail industry to be regulated; reserving a large portion for Ghanaians * Road Traffic Courts, Sanitation Courts in every district * Develop vibrant fibre industry for export * Assist media institutions with credit to acquire newsprint, equipment, etc * 5% of national annual budget will be invested into research