GOVERNMENT INADEQUACIES – A THREAT TO GHANA’S NATIONAL PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENT

The second term of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s presidency has been marred by controversies and public perceptions of unfulfilled promises. After five years in power, some unpopular decisions and policies may tarnish President Akufo-Addo’s legacy and that of his party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), when he steps down in 2024. From the construction of a 5,000-seater national cathedral in Accra which is estimated to cost 250 Million US Dollars out of which the government provides 10% as seed money and provision of land, the implementation of the contentious Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy), the Agyapa Gold Royalties deal, and the scandal involving the Achimota Forest amongst others in the midst of an economy badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and a depreciating currency.

State of the Economy

According to the World Bank, the rate of youth underemployment in Ghana is nearly 50%, which is higher than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. Reports further indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the overall unemployment challenge. Ghana, one of West Africa’s largest economies and the continent’s second-largest gold producer, saw year-on-year growth slow to 3.3% in the first quarter of 2022. Inflation reached 15.7 % at the end of February 2022, its highest level since December 2016. In May, inflation reached a new high of 27.6% in May. The Central bank governor, Ernest Addison, said in May that Ghana faced an overall balance of payments deficit of $934.5m in the first quarter of 2022, compared with $429.9m in the same period last year.

Despite the ongoing crisis, the government has consistently refused assistance from the International Monetary Fund. This was rescinded when President Akufo-Addo authorised Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to begin formal engagements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support the country’s economy on 1st July 2022. Recall that in April 2015, Ghana requested a $918-million loan from the IMF to help stabilise the economy. Working with the government, IMF advisors devised a three-part plan to restore debt sustainability, strengthen monetary policy, and clean up the banking system until Ghana exited the programme in December 2018.

These economic issues, coupled with high costs of living, have caused civil society groups, opposition parties and pressure groups such as the #FixTheCountry movement, Justice 4 Ghana group and Arise Ghana group to gain traction within the political scene. Strikes by public-sector workers and labour unions are also taking place in response to low remuneration and rising inflationary pressures caused by food and fuel price increases.

The first half of the year witnessed a fair share of civil service strikes by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Colleges of Education Teachers’ Association of Ghana (CETAG), the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers Ghana (CCT) amongst others resulting in service disruptions across several government institutions.

Over the past few months, frustration has grown among Ghanaians as they continuously demand that authorities restore the value of the cedi, prevent a debt crisis and lessen the burden on the people. Recently, the Arise Ghana group staged a two-day protest between 28-29 June 2022 in Accra of the Greater Accra region, where hundreds of citizens took to the streets to protest crippling inflation and other economic woes. The first day was met with chaos as police officers forcibly dispersed protesters over the proposed protest route. This resulted in several injuries and the arrest of 29 people.

Protesters against government inadequacies in Ghana

As Ghana, like other countries across the world, continues to feel the impact of the high rate of inflation and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict within a post-COVID recovery period, nationwide anti-government protests and strikes criticising the government’s economic and social policies are expected to continue unabated at least until the near term.

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