10 Things Akufo-Addo failed to address in the 2020 SoNA
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo appeared before Parliament last Thursday to give an account of his stewardship. It was an address to convince Ghanaians to hand him another term as election 2020 draws closer.
For many Ghanaians, the election will be a referendum on the President’s tenure. So the President took his time to pep and-punch, seeking credit for all that he had implemented over the last three years and an assurance to do the undone.
Mr Akufo-Addo touched on some key issues as he addressed a one-sided parliament because of the Minority’s preference to spend is time elsewhere other than the chamber, because of unaddressed grievances.
As was expected, Mr Akufo-Addo highlighted progress on the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government’s flagship Free Senior High School (SHS) policy. Improved economic metrics, support to security services, illegal mining, strides in corruption, and social interventions were things he spoke about. The others were agriculture, energy, sports, creative arts, digitisation and industrialisation.
However, the President failed to do justice to some important matters affecting Ghanaians. While the President handled some subjects unsatisfactorily, he was silent on other things that could make or break his fortunes.
Theghanareport.com presents 10 of the key issues overlooked by President Akufo-Addo:
1. NHIS arrears
The Akufo-Addo government has been trumpeting the clearance of a
a GHc 1.2 billion National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) debt it claimed was inherited from the previous government. In his recent SoNA, Mr Akufo-Addo portrayed a smooth functioning scheme. This is contrary to the position of the Chamber of Pharmacy who issued a statement on January 22. They threated to cut supplies to hospitals in debt. A day after the SoNA, the Ghana Medical Association issued a statement expressing a “great concern [about] the failure of the NHIA to pay health facilities (public and private hospitals) for services rendered from or about March 2019 to date, resulting in some providers threatening to withdraw services to national health insurance cardholders.”
They called on government and the NHIA to settle the debt as soon as possible else the country’s hospitals would return to a ‘cash and carry’ system. So, we ask, what is the true state of the NHIS?
2. Hospitals and education infrastructure
Even though President Akufo-Addo mentioned some key interventions by the government in the health sector, he failed to provide a list of healthcare facilities that have been commissioned or completed for use under his government. While hospitals turn away patients in the name of lack of beds, the Akufo-Addo administration has been accused of abandoning healthcare facilities completed under the previous administration, but yet to be opened. Others are also at various stages of completion and some were even ready for use but had been abandoned.
At least, eight of such facilities were contained in a list released by the Minority in September 2019. Mr President, what is the status of the facilities? Why the silence on these all-important life-saving structures?
Then there is the looming disaster at the tertiary education level when all the products of the free senior high school policy will be entering universities. How ready are the public universities to absorb the numbers in September? Past events cast their shadow. If the accommodation challenges of last semester is a litmus test, then the government flunked the test.
Ghanaians would like to know the level of infrastructure expansion in the tertiary institutions across the country to absorb the first batch of Free SHS students expected to complete their studies this year.
3. Road accidents
Road carnage is a major challenge wasting away productive lives and a chunk of economic resources. When will Ghanaians see a policy document or bill to tackle the menace? Norway has done it. The solution is more important to Ghanaians than promises of dual-carriage roads, messages of sympathy on Facebook and Twitter after tragedies. The President’s silence on road accidents at the SoNA doesn’t sit well with road safety advocates.
4. Election year expenditure
In the run-up to the 2016 elections, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said there was money in Ghana. Today, the country’s debt stock has attracted a “high debt distressed country” tag from the IMF. There are fears that the government will violate its fiscal ceiling of 5%. The government wants to spend GH¢86bn in 2020, while is projecting to raise only GH¢67bn. It leaves a deficit of GH¢19bn, a source of concern in an election year. President Akufo-Addo, however, escaped from disclosing measures keep expenditure in check. What sanctions are in place for those protecting the public purse if the target is missed?
5. Vigilantism/Missing tricycles
Despite the public knowledge of tricycles getting missing, and an NPP vigilante group claiming to have carted away the tricycles on the instructions of a government official, the President has been silent on the lawlessness? Why are we hearing about party militia when the vigilantism law bars their existence? Mr President, is the NPP government preaching one thing and practising the opposite?
Ability to purchase homes have been the bane of many Ghanaians. The 5,000 residential units at Saglemi was good news. However, over three years into the tenure of the current administration, Ghanaians cannot occupy the structures, which are rotting away. What is the state of the project? Is hope lost? Would it take another generation to complete and allocate the buildings?
7. Menzgold saga
Should the Menzgold customers concede that their monies are gone? The president did not comment on Menzgold , even though victims of the collapsed banks were promised full payments? Victims of DKM Microfinance have also been assured a refund in full.
President Nana Akufo-Addo said 65,000 new healthcare personnel were recruited between 2017 and 2020. Does it include the ever-present nurses and other health professionals who are always at the Ministry of Health? 67,000 teachers have been provided with jobs, according to Mr Akufo-Addo. Are the demonstrations going to cease? How is the promise to provide jobs shaping up?
9. RTI implementation
The Member of Parliament for Ashaiman, Ernest Norgbey, demanded information on the procurement of services from some two consultants the EC is working with.
The Commission, in its response, said, although it was willing to provide the information requested, it is unable to release it “because the fees and charges applicable are yet to be determined in accordance with the law.”
When President Akufo-Addo assented to the Right to Information Act last year, Ghanaians were told its implementation will start in January 2020. Among the conditions for the take-off are the establishment of a commission and the fixing of rates for applicants seeking information. But January has come and gone, so is the sun about to set on February, but there is no sign that the government is in a hurry (apologies to the President) to start the implementation of the law.
10. Closure of Nigerian border
The closure of the Nigeria border to Ghanaian goods has taken a toll on some members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA). Negotiations between Ghana officials and their Nigerian counterparts were welcomed. The outcome was a special arrangement to have Ghana goods arrive on Nigerian soil. February is almost ended. What is the fate of the goods
at the border? How has the consideration of compensation for affected businesses turned out?