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Opinions of Monday, 22 October 2018

Columnist: John Gartchie Gatsi

There is no winner in the social intervention game

Generally , irrespective of the political ideology of a political party in government, the policies and programmes should deliver benefits to citizens in the form of affordable, accessible and quality healthcare, education and security. The most important, even in welfare economies is jobs.

Sustainable and wage and salary sensitive jobs provide answer to many other questions relating to payment of bills,shelter, payment of taxes and daily consumption.

In Ghana, the two main political parties are driven by property owning democratic principles (ie NPP) and social democratic principles (ie NDC). Bearing in mind that the values ?principles and end-results if any of these political ideologies are firmly rooted in Chapter six of the 1992 Constitution to meet the aspirations of the citizenry, political ideology shouldn’t be touted beyond performance because no democratic political ideology can deliver any beyond the requirements of our own constitution.

The limitations or inabilities of these schools of political ideologies , reflect in not -meeting the expectations of citizens such as generating employment opportunities and use of innovative strategies to better manage our resources to provide robust ,inclusive and forward looking multi-purpose public transport systems, sustainable jobs to generate private incomes among others.

When governments are not able to do the above and the plight of citizens worsened, then the same governments come up with some plan to provide some of the needs of the people as if it is not already their primary responsibility to do so and call it social intervention.

The difficulty, however, is that politicians sometimes want different grades from what they christened social intervention especially when there is a big gulf between their achievements and what the citizens practically feel. The question is, if good economic management touted by every government is not able to deliver what citizens want, can social intervention on its own satisfy citizens ?.

Is it my position that social intervention is bad? No but whatever it intends to achieve is already a requirement and may not require a different marking scheme.

In the late 1980s and the 1990s ,extension of electricity and portable water all communities including urban areas was massive. This helped to reduce various forms of poverty such energy poverty and water poverty.To deal with massive poverty within the framework of the HIPC initiative , it was a condition precedent to accessing HIPC fund to introduce socially oriented programs.

Hence the development of a number of social programmes including the full implementation of the earlier piloted National Health Insurance Scheme, School Feeding Programme among others.

The two main political parties have either introduced or added value to existing programmes under the arm-bit of social intervention. Some politicians even erroneously attempt to explain for vote that implementation of policies to benefit the masses is the preserve of other political ideologies.

This thinking is strange to the requirements of policies by political arrangement under directive principles of state policy in chapter six of our constitution.

This explanation doesn’t mean that social democrats should not try to maintain mass benefits of their policies and to maintain inclusiveness but to think that social intervention is required of only social democrats will be strange to the economic governance requirements in the Constitution.

Perhaps what is important is that what political parties fight over(social intervention) are the main requirement under articles 34 to 36 of the 1992 Constitution should be demanded like any rights enshrined therein.

Indeed both parties contributed to all such programmes. Take for example the NHIS which was introduced under Former President Kuffuor was greatly improved under late President Mills and former President Mahama. The scheme was enhanced and more conduits to gain access were put in place such as the building of more hospitables, health centers and CHPS compounds and training of more health personnel. There is , however,the need to rethink the way social intervention programmes are managed. The School Feeding Programme is a visible demonstration of discrimination against many Ghanaian children who are still not lucky to be considered by any of the two parties in power- the social democrats and property owning democrats.

Infrastructure well mapped out such as roads, healthcare equipment, hospitals, CHP compounds,School building and logistics help better implement the social intervention programmes to ensure access and value added service delivery.

We are in another era that requires urgent social interventions for workers,commercial and private owners of vehicles whose incomes are eroding with different phases of hardships to cushion them.

Many schools especially basic schools still don’t have classrooms perhaps they need social intervention. Children in many mining and Cocoa growing areas walk long distances to access basic education, these children definitely should receive social intervention.

Cocoa roads and hospital infrastructure in Cocoa growing communities should be treated as emergency social intervention programmes. Cocoa farmers and cocoa sector workers need social intervention because the unique benefits enjoy by them in the form of Cocoa scholarships is gone with the Free SHS.

That is why playing the social intervention game will not be healthy for political parties. Under social democrats, Ghanaians called for fuel price related social intervention today under property owning democrats Ghanaians are calling for fuel price related social intervention.

From the above , any positive statement about social intervention benefits both parties and any blame affect both.

Now the social intervention debate should not overshadow the weightier matters regarding socioeconomic governance of Ghana. All the two parties introduced and managed social interventions but lost elections implying that uncoordinated implementation of social interventions without an economic model that delivers all inclusive safety and security, non-discriminatory access to opportunities and jobs for all will not help the transformation agenda of the country.

This is the time for government to deliver on programmes in the 2017 and 2018 budgets. This is the time the opposition parties should be developing forward looking solution based socioeconomic model with plans for key thematic areas.

Indeed Ghanaians are expecting more than what is being delivered today.