|INPUT INTO THE 2013 NATIONAL BUDGET STATEMENT AND ECONOMIC POLICY OF GHANA|
GHANA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS
INPUT INTO THE 2013 NATIONAL BUDGET STATEMENT AND ECONOMIC POLICY OF GHANA
The World Bank report on Global economic outlook for 2012 posits that there are signs that growth is picking up in developing countries, whilst the world continues to face a bumpy and uncertain recovery. The report further notes that the pace of economic recovery in high-income countries is likely to remain disappointing, let alone that of developing countries including Ghana. Uncertainty over future policy and necessary fiscal and financial restructuring will continue to drag on growth in many countries with Ghana not being an exception. It is against this background that the government of Ghana has to formulate and implement pragmatic economic and social policies that will bring real relief to the citizenry in addition to ensuring economic growth and stability.
2.0 REVENUE GENERATION
To enable Government to meet its financial obligations and to avoid the danger of overly relying on external borrowing to service its programs and projects, there is the need for aggressive domestic revenue generation. This can be done by widening the tax net to rake in more revenue from other sources including but not limited to, the informal sector operators such as itinerant business entities. Revenue inspectors must move about to track these business entities which conduct their businesses in vehicles selling merchandise or move around offices with their portfolios doing ‘big businesses’ in several goods and services including but not limited to such items as electric and electronic equipment, electric generators, stationery, textiles, footwear, cosmetics and jewellery etc. In addition, Government must explore the possibility of opening Income tax accounts with Commercial Banks and Post Offices to make it easier for the citizenry to honour their tax obligations without much difficulty. The taxes to be paid by the informal sector should be graduated in such a manner as to entice them to pay rather than to evade taxes or cleverly engage in tax avoidance.
Professionals such as Lawyers, Architects in private practice, IT firms, and Building Contractors should be made to honour their tax obligations.
Furthermore, Government should set up Road Toll Booths on all asphalted roads and such uncompleted projects like the eastern corridor road should be accelerated to increase the revenue generation from this source. Government should also consider the option of gradual removal of subsidies on fuel and utilities and proper targeting of subsidies if they are not to benefit unintended beneficiaries. In the mean time, more stringent measures should be put in place to block the seeming leakages pertaining to the revenue generation sector. Effective management of revenue officers in the Ghana Revenue Authority through incentives and job rotation should be given serious consideration.
The 1992 Constitution presents education as a right yet there is a lot of inequity in education delivery in Ghana. Government’s social intervention programs such as the provision of free school uniforms, exercise books and the school feeding program are in the right direction as a social democratic government. We however shudder to say that these interventions have not in any way substantially helped in reducing inequality in education delivery in Ghana. Rural schools continue to suffer lack of teachers and educational infrastructure whilst those in the urban areas take these for granted.
Teacher deployment and management has not been the best between urban and rural schools. We believe that providing the right mix of teachers, as well as providing the best of motivation to attract and retain teachers in the underserved areas of the country will be the best way forward. A call on stakeholders in Education to move from paying lip service to actual implementation of underserved areas allowance to teachers will effectively address this challenge once and for all.
Furthermore, the provision of teaching and learning materials and other infrastructural components e. g. Classrooms, laboratories, libraries should be fast-tracked to meet existing deficit in the sector. Indeed, in order to help improve the content aspect of Colleges of Education program, it will be more beneficial to reduce the one year duration of school attachment program (out-segment) to twelve weeks. This will enable the teacher-trainees to benefit more from content and pedagogy in order to meet the challenges of quality education delivery.
4.0 ENVIRONMENT, MINING AND GALAMSEY
We have noted with much trepidation, the destruction of the environment, water bodies, arable lands, forest cover by small scale mining companies and the galamsey operators over the past few years. We believe that this is as a result of the non-enforcement of the existing laws in the sector. We therefore challenge the Ministry of Environment and all other stakeholders responsible not to renege on their constitutional mandate, but rigorously enforce to the letter all the laws on small scale mining and environmental protection irrespective of who the offender is.
The government must manage the revenue from the oil find prudently so as to make the people derive full benefits from the sector. As a matter of urgency, Government must re-capitalize the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) to make it perform its core function in addition to speeding up work on the GAS plant being built in the Western Region to provide enough Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to power the thermal plants to increase the power supply onto the national grid.
It will be recalled that the quest for promoting LPG in Ghana was to protect our environment and so initially it was for domestic usage. It is now an undeniable fact that some commercial transport owners have resorted to the use of LPG causing frequent shortage of the commodity. In order to help streamline the usage of LPG for both domestic and commercial purposes, the government must regularise its usage taking into account safety considerations and those who use LPG solely for commercial purposes made to pay more for it.
“Health is wealth” and the achievement of this depends on availability of health personnel who are qualified and dedicated to their work. The new system by which persons with first degrees in Science are being admitted to pursue medicine and allied courses should be accelerated. This will go a long way to reduce the deficit in the doctor-patient ratio and thereby improve health delivery in the country.
Again, training of more Medical Assistants to help in the treatment of communicable diseases will enable Medical Doctors concentrate on their specialities and consultancy work. More Medical Assistants should be trained to augment the shortage of Medical Doctors.
The Government and other stakeholders should consciously pay attention to the promotion of hygiene, sanitation and preventive health education by way of mainstreaming it into our national psyche.
Government must encourage the citizenry to register with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to increase the revenue base of the scheme and where the premium is not able to sustain the quality of service it renders, all stakeholders must put their heads together to advise on its review. The bureaucracy associated with the registration should be reduced to the barest minimum.
7.0 JOB CREATION
Job creation should not be left into the hands of the government alone. However, government must be seen to be the lead agency in the sector by way of setting up at least one manufacturing plant in each region whose management should be based on public-private partnership.
Another means by which the government can facilitate job creation is by
exporting skilled labour. This can be done at Government to Government level to protect the labour rights of the potential beneficiaries. This strategy will create employment, generate revenue for the state and also increase foreign remittances into the country.
Since about 60% of the population are engaged in Agriculture, particular attention should be given to the sector by way of value addition in the production chain. Agriculture should not be seen to end at the harvesting point, rather various divisions and units of processing, storage, distribution, and marketing, etc should be rigorously and timeously. Undoubtedly, these are the glamorous areas which will surely attract the teeming unemployed university graduates who by the current education system are gradually being equipped with entrepreneurial skills.
9.0 TRADE AND INDUSTRY
Government should tread cautiously before signing on to trade agreements such Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). In an attempt to open up the Ghanaian market to the ECOWAS sub-region government must be conscious to protect the National Interest of the citizenry. Laws that prohibit non-nationals from engaging in should be vigorously enforced.
10.0 PERFORMANCE AND PRODUCTIVITY
Government and stakeholders such as Employers Associations and Organized Labour in the current year should start an orientation in labour productivity that will involve public/private sectors. Regular sensitization fora should be organized under the Tripartite Committee and the social partners must work towards desirable national performance targets. Such regular fora should be funded by the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.
There is no gainsaying that the better performance in terms of productivity will not only inure to the economy as a whole but to workers in general. This is the more reason why we want to reiterate the fact that as a nation we move away from paying lip service to improving our national output as far as accelerated development of the economy is considered.