The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, has accused Ghanaian politicians of creating appealing slogans for programmes which ultimately do not significantly benefit the country’s economy or the lives of its citizens.
Noting flagship projects of the current New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration like the one district, one factory and one village, one dam, Philip Alston stated that such programmes, while attractive on the surface, achieve very little in principle.
“Ghanaian politicians are maybe world champions at creating memorable slogans that are really good. [One District], one factory; [one village], one dam; [one constituency] one million dollars, et cetera. I see no reason to be that optimistic. There is a lot of data as to whether you can build one factory in each district, how much employment is going to be generated and the likelihood of all of these programmes being able to get off the ground and running in a short period of time is questionable,” he said.
Briefing the media on his preliminary findings after assessing the effectiveness of measures undertaken by successive governments to tackle extreme poverty and inequality in the country, Philip Alston stated that although the efforts to bring in more “private capital” were commendable, the structure of the programmes prevented them from greatly improving the lives of the poor.
He advised the government to focus instead on redistributing the country’s wealth in order to lift persons with low-income levels from their penury.
“I admire the innovation, I admire the effort to try to stimulate the economy to bring in more private capital, but these programmes are not designed [towards], and will not result in improving the situation of those living in poverty. The only way to do that is to redistribute resources from those who have plenty to those who have almost none.”
Prior to the 2016 elections, then NPP candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, and many of the party’s communicators promised voters that the party would build a factory in each of the country’s 216 districts.
The pledge, despite being dismissed by members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government at the time, gained widespread public interest and was eventually dubbed the ‘one district, one factory’ programme.
The government then promised to provide each village in the northern part of the country dams and allocate one million dollars to each constituency in the country every year, labelled one village, one dam and one constituency, one million dollars respectively.
Other pledges made by the NPP included making Senior High School (SHS) education free for all children, getting more youth involved in agriculture through Planting for Food and Jobs, and providing a bar of chocolate or cocoa beverage each day to each student.
Since coming to power, the government has begun implementing some of these programmes, most notably launching the Free SHS policy in September 2017.
President Akufo-Addo also recently called for the backing of Ghanaians for the policies started by the government and others which are yet to be implemented in order to push the country’s quest to be independent of foreign aid.
“I can confidently state that actions have already begun on many of the flagship programmes under the agenda for jobs. The remaining will witness inception shortly. It is my conviction that the effect and impact of these initiatives and many others articulated in the document will go a long way to ignite and sustain the transformation we are craving for our nation and bring us close to achieving sustainable development growth,” he said.
Read the full report by Philip Aston here
By: Edwin Kwakofi & Ann-Shirley Ziwu/citinewsroom.com/Ghana