The social intervention debate will surely dominate our preelection political debate. Empirical evidence has shown that social intervention and protection also provide dynamic efficiency gains to the economy through positive impact on productivity. Over reliance on traditional mode of providing social protection, through government or publicly financed programmes, restricts the potential for scaling up social intervention or protection. There is a huge potential for maximizing finance for such programmes through increased public and private partnership.
Target credit, livelihood interventions, support for agriculture, health care facilities, new schools, low- income targeted public housing are all examples where social protection can be scaled up through increased PPP.
The objective of any social intervention programs are socio-economic developments, to raise the standard of living and earning capacity of vulnerable citizens while establishing a social floor that protects all members of society. There should be adequate medical facilities to enable citizens access good healthcare when they fall sick, there should be adequate schools at all levels to absorb our pupils and students, government and the private sector must collaborate to widen the industrial base to create more jobs, power should be available to support industries and small scale businesses, government must provide potable water for the citizenry.
Social programs in some developing countries especially countries in the Latin America region are impacting on lives of citizens because of shift from the outmoded approach to adaptation of modern concepts. Mexico’s Propera CCT program has been able to reach over 6.5% million families causing an 11% reduction in maternal mortality which in turn, improved the overall health of citizens. Nicaragua has moved from its old system or objective of simply providing safety net and now generating employment and improving living conditions and developing opportunities amongst its population through the provision good roads, schools, hospitals and other social amenities. The Covid-19 pandemic and its associated problems have practically taught us a good lesson. That: infrastructure should always come first when discussing social intervention. We need constant flow of water, constant power supply and adequate health facilities to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Yes, the National Health Insurance Scheme (card) is very important but Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that possessing the card alone is not enough. We need places to quarantine and also treat those tested positive, we need more laboratories to do the testing and we need water to wash our hands. I have heard people ask why the Mahama administration did not reduce or absorb portion of electricity and water bills during the power crisis. Isn’t that ridiculous? Firstly, he fixed the decades old perennial power crisis which made it possible for this administration to take that decision. Under the previous Npp administration, we experienced same crisis- did the administration absorb our water and electricity bills? In just four years, the Mahama administration increased rural and urban water coverage to about 80%. The administration constructed new water projects across the country and expanded existed ones to the point that cities that suffered perennial water shortages in the past now have water running through their pipes. How do you distribute free electricity when you don’t have enough generation?
In 2013, the Mahama administration reduced electricity tariff by 25 percent, from 78.9 percent to 59.18 percent. The government absorbed the difference between the PURC gazetted increase of 78.9% and the 59.18% including all levies and charges. The administration paid over Ghc 400 million as subsidy to the utility companies to enable them maintain a steady supply of energy.
Critics of the Mahama administration mischievously blame the administration for the power crisis without commenting on the genesis of the problem and the technical reasons. The demand for electricity more than doubled between 2006 and 2014. The population of Ghana increased from almost 22 million in 2006 to about 27 million in 2013. Increasing population has a positive correlation with increasing GDP, the GDP increased from 19 million Ghana cedis in 2006 to about 32 million in 2013. Total energy generated increased from 8,430 GWh in 2006 to 12,870 GWh in 2013; total Final Energy consumed, that is the energy which was not used for transformation into other forms of energy, increased from 5,177ktoe to 6,886ktoe; total electricity consumed which included commercial losses increased from 7,322GWh in 2006 to 10,583 GWh in 2013. Final electricity consumption increased from 597ktoe in 2000 to 910ktoe in 2013. With the exception of 2003, we experienced constant increase in power supply from 0.9 to 1.8 percent per annum. Electricity demand was projected to increase from 6.58TWh in 1997 to 20-21 TWh by 2020. Unfortunately, the first Npp administration did nothing about this. The demand for petroleum for instance, was projected to rise from 1.6 million tonnes in 2000 to over 3 million tonnes in 2012. Demand for grid electricity grew from about 6,900 GWh to a projected figure of about double by 2012. The expectation was that natural gas was to replace light cruse oil by 2007 when the West African pipeline project commences operation. Ghana had a net export of electricity in 2001 when there was unexpected abundant water in the Akosombo and Kpong hydroelectric reservoirs. We recorded minimum net export in 2013 for 95GWh which means that the value of imports exceeded the value of export earnings.
It is unfortunate Dr Bawumia and those who have made the power issue vis-à-vis the covid-19 fight deliberately close their eyes to these documented facts. As the population grows, number of industries increases, energy demand and its associated services to meet social and economic development and also improve human health and welfare also increase. Access to energy plays a critical role to achieve the Millennium Development Goal. People in the rural areas migrated to search for better living conditions and social amenities in the urban areas; all these increased demand for electricity. Meanwhile, the previous Npp administration did not take prudent measures to handle future challenges.
May be, President Kufour could explain this new logic better by telling Bawumia and his apostles, why he did not absorb our electricity bills when experienced power crisis between 2006-07, but bused pastors to Akosombo to pray for rains to fill the reservoir, and also appealed to Ghanaians to reduce their electricity consumption by managing usage. And what was our generation capacity at the time? Ghana is now a net exporter of electricity as a result of the huge investment the Mahama administration made in the energy sector. Mahama promised Ghanaians will not tackle the energy crisis using the outmoded traditional approach and did exactly that culminating in the excess power the current administration is exporting to neighboring countries. Social intervention is not dashing out monies to party fanatics while you supervise deterioration of the countries social amenities.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Mahama administration allocated GHc 50 million as special support to the poultry sector. Rice importation reduced because of the support and the attention the administration gave to rice farming. President Kufour himself commended the administration for that monumental achievement.
Cocoa is still the mainstay of the economy. Government services it debt, pay workers, buy fuel etc from proceeds (money) from the commodity. The Ghana Cocoa Board under the Mahama administration, distributed 50 million improved free seedlings to the farmers in cocoa growing communities across the country. The administration also introduced the free fertilizer distribution policy. Cocobod, recruited more than 4,000 people in 87 cocoa growing communities who supported the planting and nursing of the seedlings. The Government raised the producer price of cocoa which made smuggling of cocoa to neighboring countries unattractive. Government also took delivery of motorcycles from Mondelez which were distributed to extension officers to enhance their service. These prudent interventions culminating in the high yield Ghana recorded between 2016/17.
President Mahama in furtherance to his Agenda for Transformation and production of made in Ghana products, gave an amount of Ghc 50 million to some pharmaceutical companies to help expand their businesses.
He also amended the VAT law to exempt more than 1,500 products from VAT, which gave the local producers an advantage.
He also introduced the YES concept which gave support to young entrepreneurs to develop their skills and own their own businesses. Monetary support were given to these young entrepreneurs to establish their own businesses. The administration through the gender ministry, gave special support to the aged and the poor. The ministry also offered special vocational training to the kayayes.
The current social protection programme introduced by this administration has not responded well to the growing spatial diversity in living standard and poverty rate within Ghana. A key reason for this is that government uses this important project for its propaganda agenda. The support only goes to their party folks and family members. The other reason is institutional weaknesses and often handicapped by misidentification of beneficiaries. Bawumia should also find out why Ghana under Mahama won the gender award. The Mahama administration integrated gender into the design and implementation of social protection, including policies that enabled women to better balance family and job and also, created safe and attractive environment for women who wanted to enter the public service arena.