BACK TO THE MANIFESTO TOPIC -ASK
Not too long ago, I took time off to review the manifesto of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) after it was launched in Sunyani on the 17th of September, 2016. In my concluding remarks, I made a commitment to continue the process of reviewing the manifestos of the various political parties as and when it becomes necessary.
Yesterday, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) launched its manifesto after months of postponement and claims of their manifesto content having been stolen by the NDC and later by the All People’s Congress (APC).
I have always maintained the point that if we all agree that the problems of Ghanaians remain the same everywhere you go in the country, then we can all expect political parties to recount the problems and perhaps even have similar solutions. What is of significance is the mode intended to be used in resolving these challenges.
That all these political parties have their ideological inclinations, they are best measured to the extend that they proffer solutions that are in line with their ideologies in resolving the problems. That is the angle one would expect these political parties to differ.
Looking into the New Patriotic Party’s manifesto, I have noticed two flagship programs highlighted under Trade and Industry and Health on pages 10 and 34 respectively; “One District One Factory Initiative” and “restore trainee nurses’ allowances in full”
Before critically assessing these two promises in the NPP manifesto of 2016, we must pause a little and understand the values and beliefs of the New Patriotic Party. The party believes in capitalism the crux of which stands on the beliefs that the private sector is the engine of growth. To them, government has no business doing business.
In their ideology inscribed in the NPP Constitution signed by JB Danquah which was also captured in the manifesto, “The Party’s Policy is to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property owning democracy in this land, with right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles to which the Government and laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen”, the position of the party in governance is not in doubt.
On the back of this, we can proceed to discuss the One district one factory initiative. Fortunately for this discussion, in order to make the context much easier, it has been established in the manifesto of the NPP how and what this policy is meant to achieve, “In collaboration with the private sector, the NPP will implement the “One District, One Factory” Initiative. This District Industrialization Programme will ensure an even, spatial spread of industries”.
One thing we need to understand clearly is that, political manifestos are expected to lay out what a government can do over the duration it is seeking power and not premise the ability to achieve on the participation of others, and in this specific case, the private sector.
The private sector, the natural allies of the capitalist ideologists, are profit seeking and would only invest where they would have return on their investments. Here we are, a party seeking power is emphatic on providing one factory per district across the 216 districts in the country.
What is the guarantee that the private sector would find every district in the country viable for a factory? If the nature of factory is explained to us, it would aid our assessment of the promise to be able to ascertain proximity to water, electricity, raw materials and skilled labour in some instances.
Recounting the 81 broken promises under the previous NPP administration, this promise of a factory per district may turn out to be another of the broken promises. What I would have expected would be to tell us which areas the party, as at the time of putting the manifesto together, have identified to be suitable for which factory, before running to town with it.
In that case, we are able to ascertain the nature of factories and how they would be established. In that case, we are able to quantify the promise and measure its feasibility.
Having established that this is not something to be undertaken by the government but by the private sector, we can begin to put away the issues of sources of funding for these factories as the capital required would not be borne by an Akufo-Addo’s government.
The final issue I would want discussed is the promise to restore trainee nurses’ allowances in full. I would want to ascertain the personal position of the flagbearer of the NPP on the budget plans of the NPP in 2008 which sought to abolish these allowances and to replace them with student loans, just as this government is doing.
That said, has it become clear to the party that enrollment of students into these schools have increased? Are they equally aware of their upgrade into tertiary institutions? If so, what would be the effect of restoring these allowances?
In this light, some legitimate questions would suffice; would the system be reversed to the quota system with its attendant reduction in the number admitted? Would all tertiary students be given these allowances as their counterparts since they are also Ghanaians and pay school fees?
The better these questions are answered, the clearer we would become on this matter. For instance, would the situation where enrollment increased by some 63.8% be reversed? Whom would we be pleasing?
Which sector of the economy would we be starving in an attempt to fulfil political promises that would have serious ramifications on our future? As part of the reason for the proposed abolishing of these allowances in a budget plan prepared in 2008 for the period 2009 and 2011, the intention was to channel the proceed to meeting the cost of wages of nurses employed.
With the teeming numbers coming out of these nursing institutions, how does an NPP government intend holding the situation of its inability to post these graduates?
In all of these, let us not forget that they would remove several taxes that are aiding the payments of wages and salaries. It would be appropriate to balance the cash in-flows and out-flows in these manifesto before taking decisions to elect a government for the people of Ghana.