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An Analysis of Selected 2016 Manifesto Promises for New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC)

 

 

AN ANALYSIS OF SELECTED 2016 MANIFESTO PROMISES FOR NPP & NDC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Political party manifestos, the key policy statements of political parties in an election, have become a key feature of Ghana’s democratic process since the reintroduction of democratic governance in 1992. Therefore, like elsewhere in the world, manifestos remain indispensable ingredients for participatory, transparent and accountable governance. Party manifestos are the tools for holding political parties to account during their terms in office and therefore very imperative tool for development.

 

As part its issue-based campaign during the 2016 Ghana Elections, Penplusbytes presents a brief analysis of some of the campaign promises of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the biggest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the only parties that have governed in the Fourth Republic and control more than 90% of the electorates in Ghana. This piece focuses aspects of their manifesto promises in Education, Economy, Local Government, Social Development, and Health. These issues are not only supposed to guide the campaign process from now till December 7 2016 but, they would also form the basis for the various policy implementation of these parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EDUCATION

NDC: Review the Capitation Grant Upwards (100%) and Fully Absorb BECE Registration Fees

Since 2004, the government of Ghana has implemented the Capitation Grant Scheme which has provided a cushioning to many parents with a positive impact in school enrolment in Ghana. The grant currently constitutes 38% of the total expenditure of public schools. For the 2012/2013 academic year for instance, a total of GH¢24, 472,840 which could have been the burden of parents was borne by the government. However, the implementation of the scheme is replete with many challenges. According to the National Development Planning Commission’s 2014 Citizens’ Assessment Report on the Capitation Grant Scheme, the key concern for the survival of the Scheme is the delayed release of the capitation grant to the schools which is forcing many schools to still charge levies to fill the financial gap in order to keep the schools running.

In view of this prevailing challenge, the promise by the NDC to review upward by 100% the capitation grant from GH¢4.50 to GH¢9.00 which could cost the country close to GH¢50 million annually under the next NDC government would not achieve the expected results if the issue of delayed release of the grant is not dealt with.  Further, the ability of the government to raise this amount in the face of many competing needs which accounts for delayed release of other statutory funds such the District Assemblies’ Common Fund and the Ghana Education Trust Fund, among others can be more challenging

NPP: To abolish the payment of utility bills by students

This pledge fits into the general goal of the NPP to make the cost of Tertiary education affordable and accessible. It must be noted however, that, the issue of cost of utility has been an age old challenge for the academic community in Ghana. Lack of payment of utility bills affected academic work and the utility companies in so many ways in the past because the institutions are often unable to settle the cost. As shown in the table below, the electricity and water bills owed to service providers by five universities are enough to affect the provision of electricity and water services to these institutions. 

 

 

Tertiary Institution

Electricity (GH¢)

Water (GH¢)

University of Ghana

14,936, 868

2,585,232

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology

9,368,487

1,842,687

University of education Winneba

3,414,287

1,300,604

University of Energy and Natural Resources

880,135

200,471

University of Mines & Technology

553,047

160,456

Total

29,152,824

6,089450

 

Similarly, it came to light in  August this year, that the Government itself owed power producers and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) over GHC3 billion. Given that the prolonged power crisis in Ghana was a financial problem and partly blamed on this debt, the implementation of this policy by an NPP government would have to be carefully considered for many reasons, including the following.

In the first place, there is a progressive move toward prepaid metering system by the ECG because only 30 per cent of customers who use post-paid metering system pay willingly while the remaining 70 per cent have to be informed through notices of bills, among other means including disconnections before bills are settled. The resort to prepaid metering system is meant to ensure ready fund at the disposal of the service providers. Secondly, the ECG is installing prepaid meters on the campuses of the universities after a wave of many disconnection exercises in some of the country’s tertiary institutions due to the huge debt they owed the ECG. This implies government would have to enter into some kind of agreement with the utility providers on the nature of assistance to Ghanaian students in the public tertiary institutions.

 

 

Bottom of Form

NDC: To Implement the T-TEL to Cover Professional Training for 35,000 Teachers in All the Colleges of Education

The NDC has pledged to continue to implement the Transforming Teacher Education and Learning Programme (T-TEL) to cover professional training for 35,000 teachers in all the Colleges of Education”. Though this is not necessarily the responsibility of the government of Ghana as the full cost of the programme is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the commitment of the government to the success of the program is critical for the desired outcome of improving the quality of teaching and learning in all Colleges of Education. However, it does appear that, beyond this initiative, government does not have any clear program for the teacher trainees in Ghana.  

 

NPP: Restore in Full, Teacher Trainee Allowances

There NPP seems to be taking advantage of the seeming political fallout from the abolition of teacher trainee allowance, an action the governing NDC-Government claims has since increased enrollment into the colleges of education by 63.8 percent (27,000 to 47,000) and saved the country GHC282 million since 2012 in Ghana. The government has further indicated that the elimination of the allowance has resulted in reduction in teacher deficits in the classrooms with just 25 percent to be filled across the country because admissions into teacher training colleges are no longer restricted by a quota system which hitherto forced the colleges of education to admit 40 percent of their capacity in view of the financial considerations by government. The promise by the NPP to reintroduce allowance would mean an NPP government would have to find GHC282 million which has been the saving since the allowances were scraped amidst many competing development needs.

 

ECONOMY

NDC: Remove Duties on Imported Raw Materials for Printing Textbooks

Over the years, hundreds of Ghanaians have had to deal with loss of jobs in the printing industry due to government actions. Until 2015, it cost 50 percent less to print books outside and import them into Ghana than to print them locally because the local printing industry paid as much as 32.5 to 40 percent in taxes on raw materials while imported books were all-taxes exempt. This was largely as a result of Ghana’s signatory to the Florence Agreement of UNESCO which mandates government to waive all taxes on printed books and other reading materials imported into the country.

The recent government Text Book policy have allocated 40 percent of all government printing needs to indigenous printers while the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Law, Act 890 (Amended) waived the taxes on raw materials for printing. This has led to a subsequent reduction of 12% in the prices of exercise books, note books and textbooks printed in Ghana. This reduction happened in spite of the high energy tariffs and the effects of the depreciating Cedi the Ghana Printers and Papers Converters Association faced. However, importers still pay 5% import duty tax when the President approved 100 per cent custom duty waiver. The industry is prepared for a further cut in the prices of its products when the 5% custom duty is fully removed.

NPP: Reduction in Corporate Taxes

The NNP has promised to reduce corporate tax rate from 25% to 20%; import duties on raw materials and machinery within ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) Protocol, VAT for micro and small enterprises from 17.5% to the 3%, the 17.5% VAT on imported medicines not produced in the country; the 17.5% VAT on Financial Services, the 5% VAT on Real Estate sales, and the 17.5% VAT on domestic airline tickets.

But it does appear that the state is raking in a lot of revenue as a result of the above taxes. For instance, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) exceeded its 2015 revenue target of GH¢21.57 billion by GH¢620 million, representing an increase of 2.9 per cent. The 2015 revenue performance shows a revenue growth of GH¢5.014 billion, representing a 29.3 per cent increase over the target of GH¢8.13 billion in 2014. The NDC-government has argued that the existing tax initiatives have also been done to extend the tax net to include many businesses operating outside the tax net such as gymnasiums, spas, domestic airlines, haulage companies into the tax net. 

 

As much as these proposals by the NPP may have a long term positive effect, amidst falling donor inflows, falling oil prices and the large in Ghana, the negative impact of such a policy can be devastating for the Ghanaian economy.

 

 

 

LOCAL GOVERNANCE      

NDC: One District One Shredder: An Equipment For Shredding Plastics

With Ghana’s experience with June 3rd 2015 floods that led to the destruction of many of lives due to the phenomenon of choked gutters due to plastic waste, not even the observance of the Sanitation Day has been able to deal with the challenging sanitation situation in Ghana. The Campaign promise by the NDC to import shredders is seen to be a strategy to deal with the sanitation menace in Ghana. With a cost of a shredder being between, $60 – $120, 000, the next NDC government would half to produce close to GHS 49,248,000 to be able to procure one shredder for each of the 216 Districts in Ghana.

 

While the opportunity cost for this is huge, the manifesto is however silent on the source of funding for this initiative and whether the citizens are going to bear the cost. This leaves one to imagine whether the shredders are going to be paid by the district Assemblies themselves or from the DACF as has been the practice with little of this fund left for the assemblies to undertake development projects.

 

 

NPP: Consolidate National Sanitation Policies/Plans and Establish a National Sanitation Fund

 

The NPP’s alternative solution in the area of sanitation is to harmonize all existing national sanitation policies, and establish a National Sanitation Fund to deal with the sanitation situation. While this does not tell the electorate how exactly the proposed fund would be achieved or who would contribute into the fund, the objective seems to mobilize adequate resources to be able to deal with sanitation in Ghana. One is curious as to whether the sanitation menace is necessarily a matter of non-compliance with sanitation laws as the ordinary man knows that, often, there are not even adequate dumping sites for the disposal of refuse because the few dumping sites have heaps of refuse with more than 75 % being non-biodegradable.

 

 

 

NDC: Assembly Members to Get Paid in Mahama’s Second Term

The promise to pay Elected Assembly Members of the 216 Assemblies in Ghana is a bold one because a major challenge for the ineffective decentralization in Ghana, is the problem of lack of resources which badly impacts on the effective functioning of the district Assemblies in Ghana. Currently, elected Assembly Members are only given seating allowance for attending meeting and no guaranteed payment. However, with the total number of more than 6, 156 Assembly Members for the 216 District Assemblies and based on a tentative amount of GHS400 for each per month, the next NDC government must find GHS 29,548, 800 per year and GHS118, 195,200 for the four years. While this would greatly enhance local governance, the party is silent on the source of the fund.

 

NPP: To Improve Allowances Paid To Assembly Members.

Unlike the NDC however, the NPP only promise to improve the allowances of the Elected Assembly Members without any details of whether it is only the sitting allowances that would be enhanced.

 

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

NDC: Increase Leap Beneficiary Households to 350,000

The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, is Ghana's flagship programme of the National Social Protection Strategy is meant to tackle extreme poverty. The programme which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank among others is administered by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and managed by the Department of Social Welfare. Currently rated “A” by DFID, the program, has since 2008, provided cash and health insurance to the extremely poor households across the country and has been expanded to cover 144,980 beneficiary households, 579,920 individuals in about 186 districts as at July, 2016. In line with its aim to alleviate short-term poverty and encourage long-term human capital development, the program is envisaged to cover 250,000 households according to the 2016 budget beneficiary households by end of 2016.

With a total budget of GH¢50 million for the LEAP in 2016, increasing the LEAP beneficiary households to 350,000 in the next NDC government would increase the current budget in more than two folds to more than GHS 100 million and imposing further burden on the donors. In this regard, the achievement of this promise would depend on the magnanimity of Ghana’s Development Partners such as the World Bank, DFID and UNICEF who have so far provided the biggest support under the program.

NPP: Refocus the LEAP programme, which has become a blatant source of political patronage, by, among other things, adopting effective, accurate means-testing to target, identify and enroll properly beneficiary households

The promise of the NPP is to improve the management of LEAP. While it is difficult to authenticate some of the claims above, it must be noted that the implementation of the programme is not devoid of challenges. For instance, in 2014, in the Asesewa District of the East Region, some salaried workers who had managed to get enrolled onto the LEAP programme had to be taken out through the vigilance of the District Assembly and other agents. This means that the LEAP is not entirely free from challenges.

NDC: Continue the empowerment of kayayei by extending the 1,000 pilot Out-of-School (Kayayei) YEA Programme to cover 10,000 kayayei.

 

There are approximately 18,000 Kayayei popularly known as ‘head potters’ in the Greater Accra Region alone. While this campaign promise does not cover all of them, it would be very commendable if the next NDC government is able to implement this promise at a huge cost, however. A similar training cost for 10,000 female ‘head porters’ for employment would be 10,000 x GHS 3,800 using the cost of training 1‘kayayei’under the Presbyterian Farmers Training and Child Development Programme in 2010. This would amount to about GHS 38,000,000.

  

 

 

 

Health:

NDC: Scale up the Implementation of E-Health Systems

A Reliable information is a crucial ingredient in health care delivery. ICTs therefore remain a vital tool in making health systems more effective and efficient for the benefit of citizens. E-Health, the deployment of ICTs in health care has been experimented since 2010 with the launch of the national e-health strategy and the passage of the e-Health Strategy document by the Ministry of Health. Since then, a number of international organizations have initiated various pilot projects, including disseminating and collecting data, education initiatives and telemedicine. So far more than 22 e-Health project have been experimented in Ghana.

The promotion of e-Health in Ghana would be in tandem with the Ghana ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy which represents the Vision for Ghana in the information age to engineer an ICT-led socio-economic development process with the potential to transform Ghana into a middle income, information-rich, knowledge-based and technology driven economy and society

However the effectiveness of this initiative would depend on the removal of key bottlenecks in Ghana’s ICT agenda. Though there is very high mobile phone penetration in Ghana, the service delivery in the remote parts of the country still leaves much to be desired. For instance, National Communications Authority (NCA) has had to punish some telecom operators for providing poor quality services in certain parts of the country 2016. The success of an e-health system would depend on reliable information provision which is a function of efficient mobile service system.

NPP: Strengthen the flagship Community Health Planning Services (CHPS) Programme

The CHPS system decentralizes Ghana’s health system by locating more resources directly into communities and involving these communities in important health decisions. According to President Mahama, the NDC government has invested over $ 1 billion dollars in improving healthcare delivery with a lot of these resources spent more on the infrastructure in the health sector than any other government. The NDC further claimed that 31 new nurses and midwifery training schools to train health professionals are being built. The promise of the NPP is to improve upon this existing system.

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