This year’s election, will be one of the most historic. It is the first-ever election in this country to have a former president contest an incumbent. What it implies is that both candidates have a track record with which electorates can judge them. The incumbent, President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is riding on the back of one of the greatest social intervention programmes ever introduced in the history of Ghana – the Free Senior High School (SHS), a policy that allows all Ghanaian children to attend senior high school free of charge. It has courted so much admiration from the ordinary Ghanaian, even among those who are not sympathisers of the NPP.
The opposition candidate, former President John Dramani Mahama, is also capitalising on his achievements as the ‘king’ of infrastructural projects that transformed certain sectors of the economy. In fact, he has many infrastructural projects dotted around the country to his credit. Truth be told, in terms of infrastructure, he beats all five presidents of this country – maybe with the exception of visionary leader Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
The backgrounds of these two men, in terms of their contribution to the state, makes this year’s election one of the most fiercely contested. Both candidates are eligible to lead the country for only one term, as each have ruled for four years.
In this article, we seek to discuss the macroeconomic environment that which awaits whoever will be elected as president and highlight policies of the two leading political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), as elections in this country have historically been a two-horse race between these parties since democracy became the preferred governance structure of Ghana in 1992. It will also expound on some selected policies both parties have enumerated to revive the economy from the devastation caused by the pandemic after 2020. It is not meant to discuss every single programme or policy in the manifestos of the parties, only some key ones.
Then, on the principle of fairness and inclusivity, the article will also highlight the policies of other presidential aspirants.
The current macroeconomic environment
The current macroeconomic environment has been greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Every facet of the economy has been negatively impacted, thereby affecting all macroeconomic targets. General economic growth is projected at 1.9 percent by the end of 2020 – the slowest growth in nearly four decades, against a pre-pandemic target of 6.8 percent; a sure indication of the extent to which the pandemic has ravaged the economy. In fact, for the first time since 1983, the economy saw a contraction of 3.2 percent in the second quarter.
Another area that shows the economy is in a deep pit is the revenue situation. Due to the pandemic’s impact on productive sectors of the economy, total revenue and grants have been revised to 13.9 percent of GDP in 2020, representing a 20-percentage point decrease over the original 2020 budget target. This has directly affected the fiscal situation.
Before the pandemic, the budget deficit was projected to hit 4.7 percent of GDP – below the Fiscal Responsibility Rule of 5 percent. However, the pandemic has pushed parliament to even suspend the law as the deficit is now projected to rise to 11.4 percent of GDP. The fiscal rule, according to Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, will possibly not be restored in the next three years. The primary balance will also move from a surplus figure of 0.7 percent of GDP to a sharp deficit of 4.6 percent.
The real sectors of the economy – namely agriculture, industry, and services – have also not been spared the destructive power of the pandemic. Agriculture was the only sector which was not completely destroyed by the pandemic in the second quarter of this year, as it grew by 2.5 percent. Industry and services, on the other hand, both experienced contractions of 5.7 and 2.6 percent respectively.
Then, the most controversial topic in the country’s economy – public debt – cannot be left out of this all-important analysis. Latest figures published by the Bank of Ghana show the public debt to GDP has crossed unsustainable levels, hitting 71 percent of GDP and further projected to clock 77 percent at the end of 2020.
Yes, this is the reality on the ground awaiting anyone voted into power come December 7, 2020 as the next president of the land. It will certainly be an uphill task for that president, considering the challenges are not coming from only within the economy – which could have been addressed by seeking international assistance. They have affected every economy in the world, with each country looking for ways to come out of the quagmire. So, we have to face it alone with minimal assistance from our development partners.
The country’s future post-2020
After considering the context within which the next government will operate, it is time to examine the manifestos of the two main candidates – incumbent President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and former President John Dramani Mahama – and see how they both plan to bring prosperity to the country when elected into power.
The manifestos of both parties depict two candidates in a competition of who can promise bigger, as both flagbearers have made some ambitious and audacious promises to win the hearts of the electorate. Let’s start with the most controversial issue now – the public debt.
Tackling public debt
It is fair to mention that the NDC’s manifesto is more detailed in content than that of the NPP. For example, while the NDC’s manifesto details how it will bring the debt situation under control, the NPP’s manifesto barely touches such details.
For the NDC, its manifesto says it will adopt a number of financing strategies to manage Ghana’s public debt effectively. These include: strengthening the domestic borrowing market by enhancing the auction (Treasury) and book building (bond) approaches that were introduced in 2015; enhancing external market borrowing strategies, including the use of the sinking fund as a tool for ‘buy-backs’ and redemptions; and restoring ABFA and VAT flows to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF).
Other plans include streamlining the use of EXIM funds and setting up correspondent bank and escrow regimes; enhancing liability management by restructuring domestic and external debt and international bond issuance; building and maintaining cash buffers to support debt servicing, through efficient application of the sinking and infrastructure funds; and operationalising debt management processes by strictly adhering to regulations in the Public Financial Management Act.
Further, the manifesto states the NDC government will streamline debt accumulation with investment, with high priority to rural roads and the health and education sectors; and seek highly concessional loans for social infrastructure and commercial loans for self-financing infrastructure.
The NPP, on the other hand, does not mention what it will do to reduce the debt stock post 2020, but mentions that it has reduced the rate of borrowing ever since it came to power.
“Between 2008 and 2012, Ghana’s debt stock increased by 267 percent. Between 2012 and 2016, the increase was 243 percent. The increase from 2016 to 2019 was 76 percent (including the one-time financial sector bailout). The Debt-to-GDP ratio increased by 49 percent between 2008 and 2012 and 19 percent between 2012 and 2016, but only 3.9 percent between 2016 and 2019 (excluding the cost of the financial sector bailout). Interest payments as a percentage of GDP declined from 6.9 percent in 2016 to 5.6 percent in 2018, and 5.7 percent in 2019.”
Another topical campaign message from both major parties is job creation. Both parties say they have plans to create millions of jobs for the teeming unemployed youth. For the ruling NPP, its manifesto says it will invest in building an entrepreneurial culture. It states that the party will further capitalise on existing initiatives it has already introduced to create jobs for the youth which has created about two million jobs. Some of these initiatives are the Planting for Food and Jobs, NABCO Graduate Programme, and National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan.
The party says it will implement a US$200million Job and Skills Project. Under the project, the youth will be provided with apprenticeship, entrepreneurship, and skills development training as well as grants for their entrepreneurship projects. A second component of the project will be aimed at supporting young jobseekers to find jobs through public employment centres across the country.
To address capital challenges and office or space rental constraints for startups and other small-scale businesses, the NPP says it will set up fully-serviced hubs in partnership with the private sector, with the requisite equipment for production in areas such as tailoring, agro-processing, shea butter production, soaps, and shoe manufacturing. Such business hubs will be located within regional industrial parks initially, and extended to every district in due course.
For the NDC, its manifesto states that it will both introduce new initiatives and also reform existing ones to create at least 250,000 jobs every year under what it calls the ‘Edwuma Pa’ programme. This programme will be anchored on aggressive training and skills development, through the Skills, Training and Employment Programme for Unemployed Persons (STEP-UP) and the Free National Apprenticeship Programme; the Big Push – rapid infrastructure development for jobs; supporting the private sector to create more sustainable jobs; providing NABCo beneficiaries permanent and decent jobs; establishing a comprehensive mechanism of support for new start-ups and existing businesses in the priority sectors; and implementing a ‘National and Foreign Migration for Work Programme’ (NFM4WP) designed to prepare and promote work opportunities abroad for qualified Ghanaians, especially the youth.
The party also says it will create a ‘Three-shift Economy’ aimed at aggressively promoting exports that will lead to high demand in labour to meet increased production for both domestic consumption and exports.
The Three-Shift Economy will ensure the manufacturing and other high-end services are operating 24 hours non-stop. The additional two shifts will be a source of additional employment. Companies that currently operate 24 hours with only two shifts of 12 hours each in violation of the labour law (which specifies a maximum of 8 hours) will be required to run three shifts and thus create a third stream of jobs.
So, as we can see, both major political parties have bold agendas when it comes to job creation.
The real sector
The real sector of the economy also cannot be overlooked in this analysis. Both the NPP and NDC have outlined ambitious programmes which will promote industrialisation through interventions that will stimulate the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
In the manifesto of the NPP, it states that in line with its vision for a Ghana Beyond Aid it will continue to push a strong industrialisation agenda which supports Made-in-Ghana products: including supporting the use of local raw materials; ensuring stable and affordable power for industrial development; promoting the manufacture of digital devices locally; and continue to work with the private sector to establish more Special Economic Zones for manufacturing and support them with ‘last-mile’ infrastructure services.
Again, the NPP says it will finalise establishment of the bauxite refinery to complete the aluminum value chain; complete the establishment of an iron and steel industry through the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC); continue the process of providing gas infrastructure to bauxite refinery sites; deepen and expand 1D1F in diversity and national coverage; and process more cocoa and shea-butter locally.
Other policies include deepening the automotive assembly industry; producing at least half of Ghana’s sugar needs locally within the next four years; promoting the local production of pharmaceuticals; completing the process of establishing a fertiliser producing plant in Ghana; and for light manufacturing, renew the emphasis on component assembly – not just for automobiles but also for home appliances, including electric fans, refrigerators and air conditioners to meet growing domestic demand.
With respect to agriculture, the NPP states it will continue its efforts in modernising agriculture along the entire value chain, including expanding Agricultural Mechanisation Centres: and support for farmers through increased supply of inputs, enhanced involvement of farm extension officers to work with farmers and breeders, increased disease control, improved warehousing and post-harvest logistics, and tighter linkages with industry mainly through 1D1F.
It will also ensure diversification of export-oriented, large-scale agricultural enterprises in cocoa, palm oil, legumes, cereals, rice and horticulture, poultry and meat for regional markets; large-scale private sector investment in processing, packaging and export of agricultural produce; the enhancement of small ruminant production with supply of improved breeds of sheep and goat; the successful implementation of the Greenhouse Village concept – focusing especially on the youth; the development of the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam; and access to finance through subscription to the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing Scheme for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) programme to finance and de-risk private sector investments in farming and other agricultural value-chain activities.
Then, the audacious Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises (Ghana CARES) Programme cannot be left out of the NPP’s agenda to bring the economy back to normal. It is through the Ghana CARES programme that the NPP plans to stabilise, revitalise and transform Ghana. The implementation of the Ghana CARES programme, the party says, will restore growth to pre-COVID-19 levels.
The GH¢100billion programme, which is expected to be 70 percent funded by the private sector, comes in two phases – the stabilisation phase and revitalisation phase.
The Stabilisation Phase starts from July to December 2020. Under this phase, the NPP plans to increase the original GH¢600million soft loan programme dubbed the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme-Business Support Scheme (CAP-BuSS) by an additional GH¢150million to support MSMEs (GH¢700million), and also the Creative Arts, the Media, and the Conference of Independent Universities (GH¢50million); and establish a GH¢2billion Guarantee Facility to support all large enterprises and for job retention. This will enable these businesses borrow from banks at affordable rates and over long tenors to adjust to the pandemic and retain jobs,
This phase will also set up a GH¢100million Fund for Labour and Faith-Based Organisations for retraining and skills development; establish an Unemployment Insurance Scheme to provide temporary income support to workers who are laid-off due to the pandemic; to ensure food security for the rest of the year, intensify support to the ‘Planting for Food and Job’ and ‘Rearing for Food and Jobs’ programmes, provide financial support for the National Buffer Stock Company and the Ghana Commodity Exchange, and set up a Food Security Monitoring Committee.
It will further implement a range of employment retention and support services to large enterprises: including clearing contractor arrears, paying new contractors more quickly, and increasing government procurement for local businesses (e.g. PPEs, pharmaceuticals for health sector, and other supplies).
The Revitalisation and Transformation Phase (2021 to 2023), the NPP says, will invest in activities aimed at accelerating the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda. To this end, it will pursue the establishment of Ghana as a regional hub by leveraging the siting of the Secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Ghana, and will include establishing the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
It will also review and optimise the implementation of flagship programmes such as 1D1F, PFJ, and Free SHS that depend primarily on government’s budget finance for greater results, value-for-money, and fiscal sustainability; complement the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative with a targetted programme to support activities of the Ghana Tree Crop Development Authority in promoting selected cash crops, support commercial farming and attract educated youth into agriculture; build Ghana’s light manufacturing sector, including our capabilities to manufacture machine tools to support our industrialisation; fast-track digitisation of government business as well as build a digital economy; and strengthen the enablers of growth and transformation by taking strong measures to improve the business environment for the private sector.
The NDC, on the other hand, says it will boost the real sector of the economy by implementing a Ghana Framework for Industrial Revitalisation, Support and Transformation (Ghana FIRST) programme. This programme identifies 16 strategic growth areas in the real sector based on their potential to grow rapidly, create jobs, contribute to exports and expand government revenue while contributing to building a resilient economy. Key sectors are discussed below.
In the pharmaceutical sector for example, the NDC says it will roll out a Pharmaceutical Industry Financial and Technical Support Programme to expand the existing infrastructure and introduce modern technologies into their operations to improve production. It will also assist local pharmaceutical companies to secure licences to produce generic drugs for the local and sub-regional markets; and prioritise the procurement of Made-in-Ghana drugs for the Ghana Health Service and other public health facilities.
In the mining sector, the party says it will set up a Gold Board (GOLDBOD) for the small-scale mining sector, to provide mining support services to the sector – ranging from concession viability, health, safety and efficiency in mine operations, equipment financing and mining input, research and standardisation, gold recovery optimisation as well as post-mining and land reclamation services. It will also put a ban on the export of unrefined gold produced by the small-scale mining companies in Ghana, via the establishment of gold refineries in gold producing regions of the country in conjunction with the private sector.
On the manufacturing sector, a Mahama-led government says it will promote local production of hygiene products for women, including sanitary pads, through training and support for start-ups to support the free distribution of sanitary pads to schoolgirls; revive the textile industry by providing support to Akosombo Textiles Limited and Juapong Textiles; promote the Night-Life Economy to enhance productivity and job creation; and establish an agro-processing and manufacturing fund to facilitate investment in the subsector.
And with the agriculture sector, the NDC says it will delineate agro-production and processing zones for medium- to large-scale production; expand cereal crops, starchy staples legumes and vegetables; and align appropriate infrastructure to facilitate their activities, including PPP models for an irrigation and networked warehousing system.
The NDC has also said it will trigger legislative and policy support for the real sector which will develop standards covering materials, skills and procedures/processes for the construction industry; enact a public-private partnership (PPP) law to attract investment capital; and develop and implement a policy for the procurement of locally produced agro-based products by state institutions.
It will also enact a Corporate Social Responsibility Law to foster investment in strategic and human development needs of the country; enact an Unemployment Benefit and Intervention Act to cater for workers during times of acute economic disruptions; and enact laws to protect research findings and innovations which will encourage entrepreneurs and start-ups to leverage research outcomes to establish businesses.
As expected, this article won’t be worth reading if there is no mention of education – which has been a hot subject for discussion in every campaign season since 2008. The debate has become even more exciting with the coming of Free SHS. Both the incumbent and former presidents are claiming ‘copyright’ to the Free SHS policy for having first introduced it into the system. Well, that will be left for the political fanatics to have fun with. Our focus in this article is primarily centred on policies from both parties to better the education system.
With regard to education, both parties have loaded their manifestos with many promises and policies. Let’s start with the ruling party NPP. Its manifesto says it will continue to increase manpower resources and teaching facilities, including the use of ICT teaching aids for public tertiary institutions to support the expected increases in student population from Free SHS graduates; and make sure no student who has obtained admission to a tertiary institution is denied access because they are unable to pay fees, as they will provide all such students – with the exception of teacher and nurse trainees who are paid allowances – an option to obtain a student loan.
The party says it will also implement the US$219million Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project (GALOP) to improve the quality of education in 10,000 low-performing basic education schools across all 260 districts and strengthen education sector equity and accountability in Ghana; put in place a comprehensive National Teacher Policy and implement a National Digital Literacy Project for teachers; and establish a national Knowledge and Assessment Bank – a comprehensive digital library to allow all Ghanaian students/learners access to learning materials and also provide a repository of assessment tools for assessing learning by teachers and instructors.
Again, it plans to deepen the implementation and use of the iCampus portal which provides free access to educational content for the core subject areas to all SHS students; complete the provision of free Wi-Fi at all senior secondary schools, public tertiary institutions and training colleges; and complete implementation of the 5-year Strategic Plan on TVET and establish a national Skills Development Fund through the Zongo Development Fund; in collaboration with GETFUND, build 16 model Senior High Schools in Zongo communities across the 16 regions of the country.
In addition, it will increase resources and infrastructure for special needs education across the country; expand infrastructure to increase access to professional legal education; continue with its infrastructure development programme across all levels of the education sector; and implement the existing Inclusive Education Policy by establishing, revamping or equipping regional special education assessment centres to facilitate early and accessible assessment for children who may have special education needs, among other initiatives.
With the John Mahama administration, its manifesto has a raft of initiatives which this article can’t highlight all due to space constraints. The interventions are in segments. With respect to teacher motivation, some of the initiatives include revisiting and making functional the agenda of providing special incentives for teachers who accept postings to rural and deprived communities; increasing teachers’ retention premium; training and motivating teachers and caregivers in special schools; abolishing the mandatory national service and teacher licensure examinations for graduate teachers; and restoring the automatic employment of newly trained teachers.
Others include collaborating with teacher unions to implement a special regime allowing teachers to own vehicles under affordable terms; reinstating the payment of responsibility allowances to teachers; and providing teachers with free tablets to facilitate teaching and learning.
For basic school education, some initiatives the NDC is proposing will expand and refurbish educational facilities to make them fit for 21st century education; provide all eligible children, especially those in under-served areas, with the necessary support and incentives to remain in school; and increase budgetary allocation for basic education to enhance teaching and learning activities
Others include setting up a panel of experts to conduct a thorough assessment of the current curriculum and make recommendations on the way forward with a view to improving standards, addressing distortions and bridging the quality gap between public and private basic schools; and embarking on a rapid roll-out of modern technological learning tools (including blended learning and IoTs) to transform the scope and nature of education at this level, acknowledging challenges exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On secondary education, the Mahama-led administration says it will make the Free Senior High School Programme better by ensuring that its numerous challenges are addressed, and higher standards introduced; expand the Free SHS programme to cover students in private Senior High Schools in underserved/deprived areas; abolish the double-track system; complete abandoned structures for secondary and technical education – including abandoned E-Blocks to cater for current students and expected increase in admissions; and strengthen and sustain private participation in the delivery of secondary education.
In addition, the manifesto says the NDC will promote the use of IT and provide free Wi-Fi in schools to enhance the performance of students; provide students and teachers with free tablets loaded with relevant content to facilitate teaching and learning; provide computer laboratories for all secondary schools; and revisit and scale-up our intervention in providing free sanitary towels to needy and vulnerable females with the aim of keeping all girls in school throughout the academic calendar.
Then, in the tertiary space, the NDC says it will absorb 50 percent of fees for tertiary students currently in school – and for the fresh students, they will pay no fees or levies for the 2020/2021 academic year as an incentive to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on students and parents; establish free Wi-Fi zones in all public and private tertiary institutions; and provide free laptops to tertiary students to facilitate participation in virtual classes.
It will also encourage shared laboratory experiences, especially for those in the science and technology programmes, and include private tertiary institutions; complete the conversion of all polytechnics into Technical Universities (TUs) in line with its original vision of creating opportunities for professional mobility of practitioners; and provide free tertiary education for persons with disabilities; and support tertiary institutions to invest in virtual infrastructure.
Then, with regard to Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET), the party says it will make free Technical and Vocational Education at the secondary and tertiary levels; implement a free National Apprenticeship Programme by establishing centres in TVET institutions in districts to provide free training and sponsor youth for free apprenticeship training with certified master craftsmen/women; and commence a programme for the establishment of ultramodern and fit-for-purpose Technical Institutes in all regions that do not have any.
It also plans to review NABPTEX and COTVET standards and make them compliant with Smart Automation Certifications under the global Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA); re-launch the Skills Development Fund (SDF) to serve as an intervention fund to cater for TVET graduates and others who venture into self-employment; and encourage and provide packages for females to enrol and be retained in male-dominant vocations
Furthermore, the NDC says it will intensify practical and theoretical knowledge in technical and vocational training; regularly engage stakeholders to narrow the gap between industry and training; and deepen life skills, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in TVET curriculums to create more jobs.
As indicated earlier, the education sector is loaded with policies from these parties which we can’t cover in just one publication due to space constraints. Those interested in finding out more can read the manifestos.
Huge infrastructural transformation
When it comes to infrastructure, both the NPP and NDC have tabled very ambitious and even exciting projects aimed at improving infrastructure in the country.
For the NPP, its manifesto states some of the infrastructural projects it will focus on in the next four years will be strengthening the capacity of Development Authorities and the Zongo Development Fund to enable them attract private investors to develop infrastructure in their catchment areas; and give priority to completing all on-going projects under its flagship infrastructure policies of ‘Year of Roads’, ‘Water For All’, ‘Toilets For All’ as well as other local infrastructure projects.
Some of those projects include infrastructure such as drains, culverts, feeder-roads, classroom blocks, school furniture, CHPS compounds markets, toilet facilities, among others, as part of the efforts to bridge infrastructure gaps at the community level; Marine Drive Project; extending electricity to cover the entire population; and completing the Yendi, Tamale and Damongo Water Supply Projects.
The party says it will also commence constructing the Sunyani and Keta Water Supply Projects; the Weija Dam Rehabilitation Project; and decommission and re-engineer landfill sites including the Kpone (Tema) and Oti (Kumasi) landfill sites.
On road projects, the NPP says it will use Public-Private Partnership to accelerate the development of road infrastructure through toll-financing; finalise public transport policy for a network commensurate with the needs of a fast-growing economy; launch the biggest-ever road maintenance infrastructure programme as part of improving existing road infrastructure and as a source of major job creation for the youth; and prioritise feasibility studies in establishing a rail link through Kasoa to Accra with the view of establishing a railway line service to significantly reduce travel time to and from those fast-growing parts of the Greater Accra and Central Regions, among many other projects.
As for the NDC, it says it will introduce what is called ‘The Big Push’ initiative, which will involve an investment of US$10billion over five years to achieve that critical upgrade in social and economic infrastructure needed to create a platform for transformation of the economy.
Some of the many projects under the programme include establishing new universities and hospitals in regions that do not have any; linking road construction, electricity and water expansion, as well as communication installations to the siting of health, educational, tourism and other relevant infrastructure; prioritising the implementation of a railway network in line with our Railway Master Plan, developed in 2013 and launched in 2014.
Again, the manifesto says it will roll out a Social Housing Plan aimed at effectively reducing the increasing demand for affordable housing by lower to middle-income earners, enabling them to either buy or rent them.
In terms of port and harbours infrastructure, the NDC says it will upgrade the Tema Shipyard and Dry-dock into a sub-regional service centre for vessels and the oil and gas industry as part of the local content policy; position the Tema Shipyard and Drydock to build fishing canoes and small boats for the local fishing industry; and partner with the private sector to re-establish a national shipping line.
Other projects include establishing a special purpose port at Keta; developing a dedicated logistics base for the oil and gas industry; constructing fishing ports at the major fish landing sites including Dzemeni; constructing an inland port at Hamile to serve as the main port for Burkina Faso and the Sahel Region; and expanding the Takoradi Port to Sekondi to accommodate the increase in traffic that will result from making Sekondi-Takoradi and Hamile dedicated ports for Burkina Faso and the Sahel Region.
The party also has some ambitious railway projects. It says it will complete work on the Tema-Akosombo-Mpakadan railway line; commence work on a railway line from Sekondi-Takoradi to Axim, Elubo, Enchi, Asawinso, Goaso, Sunyani, Wenchi, Bamboi, Bole, Sawla, Wa, Nadowli, and Hamile; commence work on a railway line from Tema-Accra- Cape Coast-Takoradi, Tema-Accra-Kumasi-Kintampo, and Takoradi-Kumasi-Kintampo; and construct a Central Terminal connecting the Accra Central Business District with Eastern and Western parts of Accra and the Kotoka International Airport.
The NDC says it will also explore the option of an inland water transportation network. To this effect, the Volta Lake will be developed as a critical link between southern and northern Ghana (and the Sahel region).
An analysis of manifestos in a period of a pandemic cannot be complete without highlighting the parties’ vision for the country’s health sector. It is another area in which both parties have made huge promises and one may doubt their fulfilment on seeing or hearing them. But they both claim they have plans to achieve these, so we leave it to them.
Starting with the NPP, it says it will deliver on the largest healthcare infrastructure investment by any government in the last 50 years by undertaking Agenda 111 project, which includes: construction of 101 standard design 100-bed hospitals with accommodation for doctors and nurses in the districts without hospitals; construction of 6 new regional hospitals in the six new regions; construction of a Ghana Centre for Disease Control; and one new regional hospital for the Western Region.
Other projects include rehabilitation of the Effia-Nkwanta Hospital in the Western Region into a virtually new facility and; construction of 2 new psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation of existing ones; construct infectious disease centres for each of the three ecological zones: coastal, northern and middle belt zones in the country; complete ongoing hospital projects and related infrastructure; and expand access to medical schools in Ghana by building additional facilities and augmenting their human resource base.
As for health care financing, the NPP promises to review and overhaul healthcare financing with the aim of reducing the turnaround time of claims management to the barest minimum, and ensuring sustainability of the NHIS scheme.
Coming to the opposition NDC, it seems it has bigger dreams for every sector than the NPP – as all its projects in the health sector cannot be highlighted in this article. Some of the health care policies they have proposed when given the power include: providing free primary health care; encouraging preventive care, health promotion and wellness; reducing maternal mortality by half (50 percent); amending the law to provide four months maternity leave, in addition to existing legal maternity provisions and grant seven days paternity leave; providing free sanitary pads to girls in school; and establishing special exercise parks and recreational centres for the elderly.
Other policies include establishing a Cancer and Kidney Disease Trust Fund to support Ghanaians who need assistance for such conditions; declare renal (kidney) failure, diabetes and hypertension as national health emergencies and provide better access to affordable treatment for persons suffering from those illnesses; rewarding healthcare workers who accept postings to rural communities and underserved areas with a five-year work-abroad programme; amending the National Health Insurance Act to provide an exemption to persons aged 65 years and above; resourcing the Mental Health Fund; and also introducing a co-share payment arrangement for the cost of treatment and drugs for all pensioners.
Besides these policies, the NDC has also promised to deliver ambitious healthcare infrastructural projects that will transform the country’s health facilities for good. The party says it will progressively transform all regional hospitals into Teaching Hospitals; continue and complete health facilities abandoned by the current government; construct two Police hospitals in the middle and northern zones; expand the 37 Military Hospital; construct CHPS compounds in electoral areas and equip them to screen for non-communicable diseases (hypertension and diabetes); and equip CHPS compounds with ultra-sound scanners and train personnel for better ante-natal monitoring.
The NDC has also promised to establish blood banks in all district hospitals; establish infectious disease units in all district hospitals; equip all regional hospitals and district referral hospitals with ultramodern equipment such as CT-Scan, MRI Mammogram, and oxygen plants; set up a stroke unit with imaging and other necessary facilities in each regional hospital; complete Phase-III of the flagship University of Ghana Medical Centre; complete Phase-II of the Greater Accra Regional (Ridge) Hospital; establish, in collaboration with the private sector, state-of-the-art rehabilitation centres to cater for addiction, emotional trauma among others; and scale-up the training of emergency physicians by extending training to Korle Bu, Ridge Hospital, Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Tamale Teaching Hospital, etc.
With regard to health care financing, the NDC promises to enforce provisions of the National Health Insurance Act, 2012, Act 852, section 54 – which requires the Minister for Finance to pay directly into the National Health Insurance Fund the National Health Insurance Levy collected within 30 days after collection of the levy; eliminate the cap on Internally Generated Funds in the health sector and ensure departments in hospitals are given significant financial freedom for effective health care financing and staff motivation; and exclude the NHIL from all VAT charges.
The NDC has further promised a raft of policies and programmes to build capacities of health professionals and to combat the COVID-19 disease post-2020.
As earlier mentioned in this article, this analysis is not meant to publish all the policies contained in the manifestos of the two major political parties – NPP and NDC. It is meant to highlight some key areas the two parties plan to use to drive economic growth in the country and ensure prosperity for all. The manifestos provide extra details of what this article has highlighted, and we encourage those who want to know more to read them.
The other presidential candidates
At this point, let us turn attention to the other political parties, whose candidates are very unlikely to win, and see the plans they also have for the country.
“Give NDC and NPP an electric shock” – this is one of the popular phrases catching on in the 2020 election, and it is being pushed by the Conventions People’s Party (CPP). According to the CPP, which was founded by Ghana’s first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Nkrumahist beliefs are what the nation needs to progress in these times. The party therefore produced a manifesto projecting the ideas of its founder.
On governance issues, the party has pledged to have another look at the constitutional review process and fashion it in a better way. It plans to also freeze all Article 71 ex-gratia payments pending review. It will immediately implement the Right to Information bill and freeze the sale of all government property to civil/public servants and political appointees – and review past sales and reclaim such state properties, especially land.
The manifesto says it shall complete all proper infrastructure projects begun by previous governments while adding some others. Also, support for strategy, planning, protection and the creation of factories in strategic areas to create productive and permanent jobs will receive massive backing from government.
Food and Agriculture
The next CPP government is preparing to offer farmers the Green Miracle – a Guaranteed Market and a Fair Price for a wide range of food and cash crops, as was done to produce the nation’s cocoa miracle. It will also place a moratorium on imports of chicken and rice within one year, to help support local producers grow enough to change the taste-buds of some Ghanaians.
On the fisheries front, CPP shall strongly consider a ban on all foreign fishing trawlers from Ghana’s economic fishing zone, and issue licences only to Ghanaian-owned fishing vessels
According to the CPP, under the economy, taxation and investment are dependent on the nation’s financial standing, hence it intends to: review and/or remove all tax exemptions to foreign-owned companies. It intends to also review and/or reduce corporate tax from 25 percent to 20 percent for Ghanaian-owned businesses, and VAT to 10 percent or progressively to a single digit.
The CPP government will also consider an increase in tax on foreign exchange remittances sent out by foreign businesses, as well as a rise to 25 percent retention of foreign exchange proceeds by foreign companies. It wants to introduce a special tax on telecommunication infrastructure and remove the communication talk-tax and replace it with VAT on sets, and add no further debt for paying old loans and/or to pay for recurrent expenditure.
The Progressive People’s Party (PPP)
The Progressive People’s Party, led by flagbearer Brigitte Dzogbenuku, says its main focus for the Ghanaian people will be job creation, which it believes is the most pressing need of the country today.
The party argues that effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been made even more dire, as many people have lost their jobs and are finding it difficult to make ends meet; hence, it will tap from the experience of its founder Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, who has been acknowledged for creating permanent jobs – directly and indirectly in Ghana to add more jobs to the economy.
The party has also promised to improve the business climate to enable investment in job creation so that Ghanaians will stay at home to help develop the country and its economy. It has also expressed commitment to relentlessly providing support to Ghanaian industry and farmers and fishermen, using low interest loans, technical assistance, tax incentives and priority access to the Ghanaian market.
The People’s Progressive Party says it is not only progressive but pragmatic. “We are not selling an ideological manifesto to the Ghanaian people, unlike the two major political parties. We have outlined practical solutions to the everyday problems of our dear country. Ghanaians want food to eat, they want a home to live in, they want good health, they want safe roads, they want quality education, they want an accountable government – and most of all, they want good jobs.
“A bright (red) future beckons, but it will not come into being unless we break from the old way of doing things – give the power back to the people. It is time to join hands and usher in an inclusive government led by the Progressive People’s Party – a government where the best people, regardless of political affiliation, are appointed to manage the affairs of our nation; a government that puts the well-being of the people before its own party members; a government that supports Ghanaian-owned businesses to prosper in Ghana and expand abroad,” flagbearer Brigitte Dzogbenuku said in a press statement.
People’s National Convention (PNC)
David Asibi Ayindenaba Akpasera is the Presidential Candidate for the People’s National Convention (PNC) in the 2020 general election. The PNC has contested all national elections since inception of the fourth republic – apart from the 1992 Parliamentary elections, which were boycotted along with other opposition parties at the time.
The PNC, as part of its promises when voted into power, says it is committed to addressing graduate unemployment. This the party’s government hopes to achieve through strategic policies in entrepreneurship, agriculture and industrialisation. It has also promised free education from kindergarten to tertiary.
Also notable among promises of the PNC government is realignment of the national health policy to focus more on preventive healthcare, and the increase in public funding to healthcare delivery in the country. With regard to agriculture, the party promises to establish policies that will ensure large-scale production of food and adopt the ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ technique as a flagship programme to ensure food security. Overall, the PNC government promises to deliver prosperity to Ghanaians if voted into power.
Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG)
The Liberal Party of Ghana replaced the Independent People’s Party (IPP) that was originally founded by Kofi Akpaloo in 2011. Led by Kofi Akpaloo, with the Vice-Presidential Candidate being Margaret Obrine Sarfo, the party in its manifesto for the 2020 general elections has pledged to put people’s lives first through technology, and other policies and interventions, when voted into power. The party’s campaign slogan is: ‘A Better Tomorrow: A new plan for Jobs and Wealth Creation’.
Some of the areas highlighted in the party’s manifesto include unemployment, healthcare issues, education, agriculture and Child support, among others.
Education – In education, the party promises to make university education free.
Child Benefit Policy – To support the development of children, the party when elected into government promises to allocate GH¢200 monthly to children below 18 years as Child Benefit. This, according to the party’s manifesto, will ensure that needy children, single parents and low-income families have access to services which ensure their well-being.
The LPG government has also said it will set up a US$10billion Job Fund, whereby up to GH¢250,000 will be guaranteed by government to help support educated youths in self-employment. Also, it has promised to give a monthly start-up allowance to help unemployed graduates start new businesses.
“I believe when our MSMEs are given the support and needed incentives, they can grow to be -dominating corporations and can be listed on the London Stock Exchange. This is why I propose to set up the US$10billion ‘Jobs Fund’ to support our youth to start their own businesses,” the party’s leader stated in its manifesto.
Agriculture and Agro-Allied Plan
Under agriculture, the party promises to provide long-term food security including funding and subsidies to support several agricultural sub-sectors, including commercial rice and poultry production. This, among other interventions, is expected to reduce importation of rice and poultry, especially, into the country.
The LPG government will also invest additional US$200million in the fisheries and aquaculture development to create 50,000 jobs. Overall, the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), led by Kofi Akpaloo, promises good governance for Ghanaians come December 7, 2020.
The Great Consolidated Popular Party
The Great Consolidated Popular Party’s (GCPP) candidate for the Presidential Election is Henry Herbert Lartey, a 66-year old businessman with background in finance, agro-business and international trade. He holds an MBA in Economics and Finance.
Dr. Lartey’s party’s key message is domestication, which implies that a GCPP government will ensure Ghanaians depend on the country’s domestic resources – optimising all resources to spur growth. GCPP, which occupies number-six on the ballot paper, also wants to promote agriculture – but in a way that is sustainable.
To do this, a GCPP government will harness the full potential of organic agriculture to boost the country’s exports. The party also intends to make the sector more attractive to youth by addressing issues relating to access to capital and markets if given the nod.
“We will focus on organic agriculture and make the youth our focus. By focusing on organic agriculture, we will make Ghana the food basket of Europe and enable our youth to have dollars and euros in the pockets,” he said, adding that: “This is why the youth are buying into our campaign across the country.”
Dr. Lartey explained that his government will create an agriculture extension department which focuses solely on organic agriculture to serve Ghanaians who want to go into such ventures.
Ghana Freedom Party
The Ghana Freedom Party led by its founder Akua Donkor, a 65-year old farmer, is number-five on the ballot. Among other things, the party said, if given the mandate by Ghanaians, it will make the country’s ports free – in addition to free water and electricity.
An Akua Donkor led-government will invest heavily in the petroleum sector to ensure that petrol is refined locally, so as to reap the maximum benefits of the country’s hydrocarbon resources. On education, the party’s manifesto is promising free education at all levels; free meals for every school-going child till tertiary; estate houses and cars for teachers; and teaching local languages in all basic schools.
To ease the movement of goods and people, an Akua Donkor government will construct new rail lines across the country and revamp old lines, to reduce road traffic. Other policies include a pension scheme for farmers above age 40; one-year maternity leave for women; free fertiliser for farmers; and an increment of cocoa price among others.
The All People’s Congress (APC)
The flagbearer of the All People’s Congress’ (APC) is Hassan Ayariga. The key highlights of the All People’s Congress’ (APC) manifesto include building an all-inclusive government, setting up a national data system, and creating nationwide job centres. The rest are providing unemployment food and cash benefits, as well as assigning different passports to various classes of citizens among others.
An all-inclusive governance system, the party believes, is the only way Ghana can have everybody on board to help develop the country. This, the party says, will remove the winner takes all syndrome and help create a system of unity.
When it comes to the party’s promise of building a National Data System, the APC said it will establish a national database different from the NIA – to collate the data of every person living in the country, going beyond demographics to income, property, wealth, etc. This, the party believes, will help create a platform for other state agencies to have access to information of citizens and foreigners, including the DVLA, BNI, National Security, etc.
On the creation of a Nationwide Job Centres, the party says it will create job centres that will be linked with businesses, public sector-private sector so that job seekers will have a one-stop shop to apply for jobs. On Unemployment Benefits, the APC in its manifesto promises to provide benefits for unemployed in the country – who must have notified government via the job centres. Food and cash will be provided on a monthly basis until individuals secure a job.
According to the APC Manifesto, if voted into power the party will provide a Unique Passports for Various Classes of Citizens.
The party says it will do this to protect the sovereignty, property and lands of Ghanaians from capture by foreigners. The manifesto explains that the passport will come in three classes. The first-class citizens’ passport is for those whose parents are Ghanaians. Bearers of this passport, are the only persons that can buy lands, houses, and properties in Ghana and can run for political positions.
The second-class citizens are those who have either one of their parents as foreigners. For example, one whose father or mother is Ghanaian can only buy a property through his or her father who is a citizen and not in the name of the bearer of that passport. And then the third-class citizens would be those who have naturalised, or their parents are foreigners who have lived in Ghana. These cannot buy or own property in their name or contest for any public office.
Ghana Union Movement (GUM)
The Flag-bearer of GUM, is Christian Kwabena Andrew. The main target of the Ghana Union Movement (GUM) manifesto is to bring back the progressive policies of Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The party launched its 28-page manifesto, dubbed ‘The New Ghana’, focused more on industrialisation, technical education, agriculture, job creation, accountable governance and welfare initiatives.
The GUM party says it will operate a duty-free port to facilitate trade for the local business community if voted into power. The party also promises free power for local businesses to help them thrive.
If voted into power, the GUM manifesto says there will be an immediate review of the current educational system to be centred on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a means to produce the human resource with expertise to ensure sustainable development. The party has also promised to review the current syllabi for basic, second-cycle as well as tertiary institutions, as it believes they have failed to prepare students to have the technical ability or critical thinking skills to address developmental challenges.
The party said it will take bold steps to streamline activities in the small-scale mining sector and give opportunities to all people to mine sustainably.
The party said it will provide monthly allowances for all persons who retire at age 60 to make life easier for them. Also, a lifeline will be given for prisoners to be reunited with their families. The party said it will prioritise community service over custodial sentences for convicts.
The National Democratic Party
The National Democratic Party (NDP), established by the former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings who is also the flagbearer, is promising to bring dynamic transformation to the country should she win the December 2020 elections.
The National Democratic Party (NDP), after failing to clinch power in the 2012 and 2016 elections in a political era that has seen many promises of ‘freebies’ says: “Ghana needs a shared and pervasive leadership to develop, and not a promise of goodies or provision of what politicians think the people need”.
The party, as explained by its General Secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Frimpong, believes that with a shared leadership, strengthening and extension of decentralisation, there will be significant development and a great decline in societal ills such as corruption, poor attitude toward the environment among others.
The NDP says if given the mandate to lead and serve the country, it will empower leaders from communities to all public service institutions to direct their affairs. The NDP, even though believing in the provision of infrastructure and implantation of some functional policies for the building of a country, thinks strong leadership and the provision of platforms for every individual to participate in the governance structure is very necessary for development of the country.
The party further states it believes in shared leadership and wants to see participatory governance, wherein the community would be the focus of local governance. The party lists among it promises that leaders in every community and institution will be made to put the needs of their people before policymakers for consideration.
The NDP-led government seeks to empower community leadership through its ‘Community of Bureaus’ system, to set up a complaints redress system for the people.
The Community of Bureaus will help enforce laws to deter people from indiscriminately littering the environment, according to the party. Also, the party adds that it will help to maintain law and order among the people and instil discipline into the citizenry. In the fight against corruption, NDP says it will first focus on the prevention of corruption and then put mechanisms in place to detect them, and the law would rightfully take its place.
The party says it will further set up an entrepreneurial incubation centre to equip the youth, including graduates, with skills and funds to set up businesses in their communities to reduce the rate of graduate unemployment.
We have furnished our readers with the policies, promises and visions of all those contesting the 2020 presidential election on the tickets of their respective political parties. The choice is now the electorate’s prerogative to decide. We wish all candidates well, and call for a peaceful and successful election.
Remember, One Ghana!