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Politics of Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Source: Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Arthur Kennedy's Employment-Creation Policy


At the beginning of this campaign, I pledged that this will be a campaign of ideas that will propose substantive solutions to the problems of our nation.

The Employment policy that we release today is a significant part of that pledge. The relevance of this policy is underlined by the tumult that has been evident on the labour front in the immediate past. From teachers to doctors, there are loud and insistent demands for better salaries and conditions of service. The Kennedy campaign is encouraged by recent efforts by the government to streamline and restructure salaries and urges the government to accelerate the process. The NPP government? has a number of good initiatives, including the NYEP, the PSI and the Rural Enterprise Development Program that should be enhanced.

The Kennedy campaign believes that there are three inter-related problems on the labour-front;

1. there are not enough jobs and a lot of those working are under-employed. 2. the existing jobs for the most part do not pay enough. 3. there is low productivity.

This policy addresses all of these problems. The best and most efficient engine for job-creation is the private sector and we must free and strengthen it to create jobs that pay a living wage.

While government is not the best engine for job-creation, it is crucial in the creation of the necessary conditions for job-creation. While the state should not be involved in running laundries and the day-to-day management of farms, it should enforce the laws, reduce regulations, make capital accessible, build infrastructure and manpower, reduce corruption and avoid price controls and open markets at home and abroad. Despite our commitment to free markets, government must be willing to invest in or facilitate investment in critical areas of the economy. As some of the Asian tigers have demonstrated, capitalism is not inconsistent with strong state participation. It is also important that in its understandable eagerness to make our economy attractive to foreigners, the government does not ignore the needs of indigenous businesses and job-creators. The Kennedy administration will make Ghanaians the center-piece of our investment policy.

The foundations of this policy will be land reform, a new educational system geared to our development needs, a national identification system, a culture of excellence, the need to put Ghanaians at the commanding heights of our economy and strong protections for the environment and the welfare of our people. The educational reforms of the Kennedy administration will focus on trade schools, increasing the capacity of polytechnics and a new emphasis on scientific and technical education in our universities that will make them ? BUSINESS INCUBATION CENTERS? that produce entrepreneurial graduates, most of whom will go into the private sector rather than government service. These reforms will give young people opportunities to acquire productive skills that will earn them a reasonable standard of living as workers. Also, it will provide working people with opportunities to upgrade old skills and to acquire new skills throughout their careers.

In Agriculture, the Kennedy administration will focus on irrigation, training and provision of extension workers, storage facilities, processing and the provision of the necessary capital and inputs to our farmers. We cannot continue to ask our farmers to produce more when we lose 30%of our produce due to lack of storage, transportation and under-development of our processing sector. To boost Agriculture, my administration will seek private partners to put into farming 200,000 younger more educated people through loans given through land, seeds, fertilizer and other inputs as well guaranteed marketing to produce highly productive, high earning, technologically savvy farmers who will spur our move to agricultural self-sufficiency. Also, there will be a renewed emphasis on the fishing industry through the establishment of a Technical institution to train budding fishermen in navigation, repairs of equipment and techniques of preserving and adding value to fish.

In the housing sector, the Kennedy administration will permit teachers, civil servants, nurses, policemen and other workers who have worked for at least ten years to borrow from their retirement accounts to make down-payments on houses and apartments, with subsidies from government, and the balance to be paid off during the rest of their working lives. The goal is to have 80% of workers retire with some form of accommodation that will give them security in their retirement. This will require a revamping of our retirement system coupled with a more determined effort to bring more of those in the informal sector into the retirement system. This will give the economy a significant shot in the arm by creating thousands of high-paying jobs in the construction sector. To enhance tourism, the Kennedy administration will rehabilitate our forts, castles and other tourists? infrastructure in partnership with the private sector. Furthermore, the administration will make it easier and cheaper to travel to Ghana while promoting internal tourism. This will be coupled with environmental cleanliness and training opportunities for workers and management in the tourism industry.

The Kennedy administration will assist the self-employed by providing targeted assistance that will boost their productivity. For example, the 200,000 mechanics of Suame Magazine in the Ashanti region have decreasing productivity because most of the vehicles being produced are computerized. A program that will partner the mechanics with KNUST or K-Poly and provide them with basic computer training combined with infrastructure and loans for expansion will make them the back-bone of our vehicle-maintenance industry for years to come. In addition to such assistance, the Kennedy administration will partner with entrepreneurs to establish satellite ?Magazines? in the north and the Volta Region to serve neighboring countries.

Throughout these initiatives, the Kennedy administration will have a determined and sustained effort to encourage those in the informal sector to move into the formal sector with incentives and sanctions. The incentives will include easier access to capital, technical advice and opportunities to upgrade skills while the sanctions will include fines for failing to certify for skills or to meet licensing and tax requirements for operating businesses.

While these proposals will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, the implementation using normal procedures will take years. Therefore on assuming office, the Kennedy administration will consult the necessary stake-holders and with their concurrence, through an executive order publish within 90 days guidelines that will simplify regulations and speed up business formation.

Second, it will establish within 120 days a committee for inter-sectoral collaboration to cut bureaucratic delays in the approval process. Also, the government will move to bring the entire government machinery into the modern communication era by training personnel, doing most business by automation and electronic communication within 12 months.

Third, there will be a comprehensive review, in line with the ?Directive Principles of state Policy? of all existing policies, initiatives and programs to determine effectiveness and to determine which ones to continue, to modify or to terminate.

Next, the Kennedy administration will put before parliament within twelve months far-reaching legislation that will transform our governmental and business processes and help transform Ghana into one of the best places to do business, not just for foreigners but particularly for Ghanaians as well. Throughout my administration, economic activity and job-creation will occur in an environmentally-sensitive manner while ensuring that local communities and the nation benefit from the exploitation of natural resources.

While the Kennedy campaign is thrilled with the discovery of oil, our hope is that the blessings will inure to the benefit of all Ghanaians, particularly, the poor. My administration will seek strong protections for the environment and reserve significant portions of the oil revenue for the amelioration of poverty, improvement in health and increasing access to educational opportunities for Ghanaians. My campaign is fully cognizant of the need to finance this policy. Financing will come from streamlining of government to reduce waste and inefficiency, fighting corruption, broadening the tax-base, the exploration of more innovative ways of bringing Ghanaians abroad into our economy ( as in the DENI project) and assistance from our development partners that will be managed more effectively.

Finally, while the proposals in this policy are comprehensive, the Kennedy campaign believes that this proposal is only the starting point for a national conversation on this important topic.

Let the conversation begin!