Are Ghanaian politicians under siege? [Article]

Globally, the role of the politician remains the same. It involves supporting, creating laws and policies that achieve the objectives of government.

Ghanaian politicians have a duty of care to their constituents. Members of Parliament and Ministers alike must have an understanding of society and culture.

Politicians are under immense pressure to vote on new laws and policies, raise constituents’ concerns, and debate issues. It can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Conferences, committee meetings, talks with businesses, schools and the media are all high on the agenda.

“…the global economy is projected to grow at 5.5% in 2021, up from the estimated contraction of 3.5% in 2020. The 2021 growth estimate reflects an expected positive turnaround on account of covid-19 vaccine-powered economic activity and strong policy support.”

(The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2021 Financial Year)

In order for Ghana to kick-start its economy, there needs to be sustainable measures in place. The Ghanaian politician requires support from its people for economic revitalisation. Policies such as the ‘Debt Service Suspension Initiative Extension’, established a grace period for bilateral debt service payments, with a deadline for June 2021. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have encouraged G20 countries to aid the facilitation of economic growth and sustainable development during the covid-19 pandemic.

Ghana became the 1st country in the world to receive its initial shipment of covid-19 vaccines, at 600,000 doses on Wednesday 24h February 2021, through the ‘Covax Initiative’. A 3-year GHc 1.2 Billion ‘Coronavirus Alleviation Programme’ has also been agreed to reduce the pressure on the economy and for the Ghanaian politician.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Ghana secured over $2.6 billion of foreign direct investment in 2020. Job creation, food security and the alleviation of poverty are key areas these funds will support. Ghanaian politicians are under siege from the public to deliver sustainable results in 2021.

It is through pressure politics, relying heavily on the use of mass media to persuade politicians, that the public have demanded action. Petitions, demonstrations and social media are all tactics of the impatient Ghanaian, to influence government policy measures.

  1. Peace and stability in Ghana

The success of sustainable policy initiatives by Ghanaian politicians is inherently linked to the country maintaining relative peace and stability. The Global Peace Index (2020) ranks Ghana number 1, as the most peaceful country in West Africa. On the continent, Ghana ranks 3rd, and globally 43rd below the UK and UAE respectively. The Global Peace Index (2020) aims to

“…capture the absence of violence or the fear of violence across the three domains: safety and security, on-going conflict, and militarisation… positive peace is a strong leading indicator of future peacefulness”.

A stable Ghana allows politicians to respond more effectively to the shock of the covid-19 pandemic. Through a peaceful and stable economy, policy initiatives set out by the government can be effective. Politicians can rest assure that they are not under siege about their capabilities to maintain order in the country.

  1. Positive outlook on total petroleum oil and gas receipts

Total petroleum receipts, including gas for 2020 was $666.39 million, compared to $937.58 million in 2019. Due to covid-19, crude oil was priced at $43.10 compared to $63.19 in 2019. Demand for oil fell as a result of national lockdown measures to prevent the covid-19 virus spreading.

Oil production reduced from 71.4 million barrels in 2019, to 66.91 million barrels in 2020. Ghana could project a rise in total receipts from crude oil as a result of global economies easing lockdown protocols.

The ‘Petroleum Revenue Management Act’ requires that a maximum of 70% of the governments net petroleum receipts are assigned in the ‘Annual Budget Funding Amount’ (ABFA).  Ghanaians should be aware that there are policies in place such as the ‘Ghana Heritage Fund’ and the ‘Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF)’, that allow the country to benefit from the sale of the commodity.

Patience is required during these uncertain economic times, while demand gradually increases. World population currently stands at over 7.7 billion. Domestic policy agendas can be fuelled by an upward trend in oil and gas receipts. Once widespread vaccinations are in place, and more people begin to travel, business confidence will return.

“The situation has improved and the trend is positive”.

(Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander Novak – 2021)

The Ghanaian politician should be aware that “OPEC and allies (aim) to boost production” (CNN). Economic uncertainty in Venezuela with US oil sanctions also provides opportunity for Ghana to increase its oil production capacity, and facilitate sustainable growth post-covid-19.

  1. GHc 3,630,000 as compensation to cocoa farmers

In a bid to crackdown on illegal mining on cocoa farms, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has proposed GHc 3,630,000 as compensation to farmers who have lost their lands.

The Deputy Chief Executive in charge of ‘Agronomy and Quality Control’, Dr Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh, revealed cocoa generated over $2.2 billion in annual foreign earnings for Ghana.

Today, China has now recorded its first export of cocoa to Belgium. It appears China wants to be self-sufficient, and compete with Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana as the world’s largest cocoa producers. Farmers are concerned that their livelihoods are at stake if the Chinese continue to invest in agriculture.

The average price of cocoa went up 1.2% to $2,369.85 in 2020. It is set to rise even further to $2,407.77 this year. With global output projected to be 5% higher in 2021, Ghanaian politicians aim to implement policy measures to protect domestic farmers.

The COCOBOB has invested $200 million, “…into farm rehabilitation, irrigation, fertilizer subsidies, public sensitisation and education to facilitate sustainable production”.

(Ghana Cocoa Board – Newsletter for April 2021)

The cocoa industry also aims to provide farmers with ID cards. The implementation of the Cocoa Management System (CMS) will facilitate a data management platform for cocoa farmers and other stakeholders. This is in line with the ‘digitalisation of the economy’ and will

“…help with the traceability of cocoa which has become a major international issue with sourcing countries, raising ethical issues on child labour and deforestation”.

(Ghana Cocoa Board – Newsletter for April 2021)

  1. The Modernisation of Pokuase Interchange

The ‘Public Private Partnership Act 2020 (Act 1039)’ activated a unique financing structure through the ‘Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund’. Measures to improve the roads and highways have been outlined. Improvements to Accra – Tema motorway, and the dualisation of both Accra-Kumasi and Accra – Cape Coast – Takoradi highways are all in the pipeline.

Pokuase Interchange, financed by The African Development Bank, started construction in 2018. The four-way interchange is planned to connect areas in Accra, Kwabenya, Nsawam and Kumasi. Traffic light systems, walkways and storm drainage facilities are currently under construction. The public have insisted on road improvements in the area for years, and now completion is imminent.

Large scale road modernisations for Ghanaians have raised concerns for their social, economic and environmental well-being. Due to on-going construction, local residents have been complaining of water and electricity shortages. At a projected total of approximately $100 million, politicians are under pressure to complete. Electricity power cuts are needed to divert resources to construction sites to speed up development.

“…people of Ghana we need it…we just need an outage for a few hours… if they grant us that, we can be sure we can complete”.

(Pokuase Interchange Project Consultant – Ing. Kwabena Bempong, 2021)

Approximately GHc 15 million has been allocated to ‘Project Affected Persons (PAP’s)’ in the local community for compensation. It was clear some residential and commercial properties had to make way for the development, but some have delayed the project due to disagreements in compensation.

The Ghana Ministry of Roads and Highways goal for 2019-2022 was, “…to provide an integrated, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable road transport system responsive to the needs of society, supporting growth and poverty reduction

and capable of establishing and maintaining Ghana as a transportation hub of West Africa.”

Projects such as the Pokuase Interchange are part of policy initiatives to improve infrastructure capabilities. Ghana hosting the Secretariat of the ‘African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)’ means the country must improve on its roads and highways. Global manufacturers will be able to take advantage of the biggest free trade area in the world, once road systems are improved.

  1. Disruption to the Electricity Supply

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) recently released a timetable for outages in Accra. The power outages which are regularly referred to as ‘Dumsor’, is set to interrupt households and businesses around the ‘Mallam Bulk Supply Point’, reducing electricity supplies.

There is pressure on policy initiatives set in the ‘President’s Vision – 2017-2024’ with the ‘Digitalisation of the Economy’. Long periods of power cuts are detrimental to its success. Without electricity, the development of payment system interoperability and e-government projects will be affected negatively.

ECG released a statement on Friday 9th April 2021. It announced a “Revenue Mobilisation Exercise” focusing on customers who are in arrears.

“The exercise will focus on all categories of customers in arrears. All customers who owe ECG are therefore advised to pay up their bills”.

Ghanaians have a duty of care to pay for the electricity they use. The revenue accumulated would contribute significantly to the nation’s industrial and economic development.

Investing back into the energy sector would allow for sustainable policy measures to explore opportunities in renewable energy, solar and wind technologies. Revenue generated could expand the electricity grid, and ensure rural communities benefit from ‘Digital Transformation Centres (DTC)’.

Hon. Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP) Minister for Communication and Digitalisation, in collaboration with the Norwegian Ambassador has implemented policy measures to develop ICT skills in rural communities. Over 14,000 people are set to reap the rewards.

Conclusion

Politicians in Ghana will continue to be under pressure until sustainable policy measures are fulfilled. “B Stable” credit ratings from institutions such as Moodys Investor Services, is a clear indicator there is room for improvement. Ghana’s status as a global manufacturing hub is far from complete, and necessary infrastructure needs to be in place before this can become a reality.

Peace and stability in Ghana is vital to its future success. It is the first step in establishing global economic confidence. The public will continue to be frustrated with delays in road improvements. Water shortages and electricity outages remain a concern. Unemployment has increased as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, and politicians are under siege from the public who have been affected.

Implications and recommendations

Global recovery is necessary for Ghanaians to regain confidence in government, and they are naturally concerned about China producing its own cocoa. In the 1st quarter of 2021, China recorded “18.3 per cent growth” (The Financial Express). If China is capable of cocoa output during a pandemic, what does the future hold for them post coronavirus? Ghanaians should use this opportunity to improve on its processing capabilities.

Ghana’s cocoa will be more marketable once the ‘Cocoa Management System’ is in place. The private sector can take advantage of the digitalisation of the cocoa industry.

Sustainable initiatives set out by the COCOBOD to compensate farmers for illegal mining activities, should increase exports as a result of Ghana building on its ethical conduct.

As the Pokuase Interchange approaches completion, workers will start to be laid off. The skills learned on the project need to be transferred. The ‘Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) registered 69 new projects with foreign participation in 2020, with an estimated value of $688.74 million.

Outlook is positive for a skilled labour force due to an increase in direct foreign investment. As a result Ghanaian jobs can be protected and transferred to future projects, to sustain the development of the nation.

Sources

Institute for Economics & Peace. Global Peace Index 2020: Measuring Peace in a Complex World, Sydney, June 2020

Medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) for 2019-2022 Ministry of Roads and Highways programme based budget estimates for 2019

The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2021 Financial Year, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, MP, Suame, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Majority Leader & Leader of Government Business

Highlights of The 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2021 FINANCIAL YEAR, by Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Majority Leader & Leader of Government Business

Additional resources

https://mofep.gov.gh/press-release/2020-09-14/global-ratings-lowers-ghanas-long-term-rating-to-b-with-a-stable-outlook

https://www.modernghana.com/news/955714/cocobod-china-sign-mou-for-cocoa-factory.html

https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/mp

https://gipc.gov.gh/ghana-secures-2-6-billion-dollars-worth-of-foreign-direct-investment-in-2020-despite-ongoing-covid-19-global-health-pandemic/

https://www.census.gov/popclock/

https://www.worldoil.com/news/2021/4/1/opec-with-either-keep-cuts-or-ramp-oil-production-slowly-says-delegate

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/01/investing/oil-prices-opec/index.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGJCZ8hMEVw

Pokuase Interchange: Work progressing steadily on busy stretch – AM Show on JoyNews (23-3-21)

https://www.mofep.gov.gh/sites/default/files/pbb-estimates/2019/2019-PBB-MRH.pdf

https://www.moc.gov.gh/latest-news

https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/views/china-records-183-per-cent-growth-in-the-1st-quarter-2021-1619275270

https://gipc.gov.gh/energy/

https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/ghana-energy-sector

https://www.ecggh.com/index.php/pages/news-events/ecg-goes-after-debtors-on-monday

https://cocobod.gh/resources

Source:
Mr Kojo Adaah | [email protected]

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