REACTIONS to the President’s last state of the nation address to Parliament have been mixed.
While some interviewed felt that the President left some critical issues out of his report and glossed over details, others said his address was comprehensive.
The Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, said that the President missed an opportunity to assure all of a peaceful elections, the prudent use of the country’s oil finds and a country free of drugs.
He said the President’s comments on the professionalism and neutrality of staff of the Electoral Commission (EC) could be right but could not be depended on for peaceful elections.
Dr Akwetey said no one could assume that peaceful elections were assured based on the President’s statement that the EC was professional and neutral.
“In Kenya enormous pressure was brought to bear on the electoral commission there and look at the mess created there now”, he said.
He said the key issue that civil society organisations had to take up and demand answers for was whether the government would provide money for the implementation of Representation of the People’s Amendment Law (ROPAL).
He said in making demands to know, civil society organisations also had to maintain vigilance to secure credible elections.
He said public education was needed at the electoral levels to secure the credibility of the voting process, the counting of the ballots and the transfer of results to the headquarters o the EC.
On the security of the country and the challenge of drug trafficking, Dr Akwetey was not happy that the President did not give details of the measures to improve and strengthen security agencies in the country.
He said issues about the substitution of drugs in the custody of the police with other substances and alleged complicity of the security agencies in the trafficking of drugs were worrying and needed a Presidential pronouncement to assure Ghanaians on how the government was tackling these problems.
“I believe a lot more could have been said that was not”, he said.
A lawyer and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, Prof Kofi Quashigah shared similar views saying that the issue of drugs, conflicts and the security of the country were important issues that should have talked about in his address.
He said these issues tended to undermine gains made in good governance and needed clear cut measures from the President on how they were to be solved.
“By not providing clear measures on the governments solution to the issue of drugs can create an environment where even the election process, governments, its institutions and process can be corrupted,” he pointed out.
Prof Quashigah expressed the hope that the President’s announcement of a Commission to administer the oil finds of the country would not only be limited to the resources gained but would extend to establishing prudent initiatives to reduce the harmful environmental effects of exploration.
Story: Charles Benoni Okine
A researcher at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Dr Robert Darko Osei, has stated that the next government must work towards consolidating the gains achieved by the Kuffuor administration, by ensuring that the manufacturing sector becomes vibrant to accelerate the growth of the economy.
Dr Osei who was speaking with the Daily Graphic noted that the country was abound with a lot of natural resources and adding value to these resources before export would improve the manufacturing sector and create jobs for the majority of the people.
According to Dr Osei, inspite of the relatively stable macroeconomic situation under the Kufuor administration many people still lack jobs because most of Ghana’s raw materials, including cocoa, and non-traditonal products such as pineapples, mango and oranges are exported in their raw form.
He cited for instance that said although Ghana earns some money from royalties paid on gold, it is not enough to sustain the economy, but a solid manufacturing sector could add value to the country’s gold and create jobs for the people.
“Growth of the economy must be centred on manufacturing to strengthen the link between the services and agricultural sectors”, he added.
Dr Osei also noted that in the period since 2001, the government focused on providing the platform for accelerated growth which has been largely achieved through macro-economic stability.
Inflation which hovered around 40 per cent in 2001 has been reduced to about 11 per cent while interest rates which also stood at about 52 per cent during the same period had dropped to between 18 per cent and 23 per cent, he said.
In spite of these achievements, he said, many people continue to complain about lack of money to cater for their basic needs.
He described the microeconomic aspect of every economy as crucial if people are to benefit from the successes of a regime.
Dr Osei pointed out that the economy had been able to withstand external and internal shocks such as high crude oil prices and the energy crisis because of the heavy inflows from donors.
He mentioned the Multi Donor Budgetary Support (MDBS), a basket into which many of the country’s donors put money for the government to use to enhance its development agenda and the inflows from the HIPC reliefs as some of the major cushions of the economy.
Dr Osei cautioned however that , this inflow of resources is not sustainable and added that when these resources dwindle it would negatively impact on the country’s economy as was the case in the past.
It was against this background that he asked for the strengthening of the manufacturing sector to propel the country to the next level.
DAILY GRAPHIC, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2008 (PUBLISHED AS PART OF ARTICLE TITLED "SUSTAINED ECONOMIC GROWTH WILL ENSURE MORE JOBS")