Ghanaians are bonhomie. They never miss an opportunity to party and Christmas festivities are no exception. People travel far to join family members to celebrate Christmas and to express thanks to the Almighty for yet another good year. Yes for some Ghanaians, there are many things they can be thankful for.
Indeed the entire country has a lot to cheer about. The country is largely peaceful in an otherwise turbulent sub region. Efforts to stabilize the economy appear to be paying off as interest rates and inflation rate fall. These are significant achievements because without macroeconomic stability, business development will be stunted and economic growth will be a mere mirage.
If entrepreneurs cannot borrow to set up new businesses and/or to expand existing ones, neither wealth nor jobs will be created. If this happens, the country will not be able to break out of a vicious circle of economic under performance, underdevelopment and poverty.
But alas there are those who will not share our ebullient assessment of the festivities. Indeed there are a good number of Ghanaians who may have had a “miserable” Christmas because they could not afford to buy chicken for their families. The price of that popular Christmas delicacy was not within their reach. For those who could not afford the price of chicken, the Government has not lived up to their expectations. The common refrain is that whatever achievements there may be are yet to reflect in their collective pockets.
Recent surveys on poverty across the country indicate that nationally about 40 per cent of Ghanaians live below the poverty line, which is that they earn less than a dollar a day. In some regions, the percentages are even higher such as in the Upper East and Upper West regions. For many of such people, they will not be able to afford the price of chicken.
However, the Government has not been oblivious to the plight of the people who are unable to buy chicken for Christmas. There are number of developmental and remedial social programmes that are designed to strengthen the capacity of the poor to improve their economic circumstances.
Savings from the HIPC initiative have been used to provide loans and credits through micro finance schemes and the Social Investment Fund so that the poor can set up their own businesses to generate wealth and to be self-reliant. For the first time in as many years, Government and employers surpassed the psychologically important threshold of increasing the daily minimum wage to a little over one dollar a day.
Despite best efforts and good intentions, not every Ghanaian benefit from government policies and programmes. Many reasons could be assigned for this. The programmes may not be within easy reach or they may simply lack the motivation to take advantage of such initiatives. Some may not even have the requisite skills to enable them to earn a daily minimum wage.
We should strive as families and as individuals to seize whatever opportunity there is to improve ourselves. It is when we take personal responsibility for our actions would we be able to overcome individual challenges.
We should grab whatever opportunity there is to improve our material circumstances, especially through personal sacrifice. And above all, we should resist the temptation of blaming government for every predicament we may find ourselves in.