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02.10.2008 Feature Article

GHANA: THEN AND NOW

The December 2008 election is less than 3 months away and all Political Parties have shifted to high gear to ensure that they win the elections or at least make an impression that they are a force to reckon with (like the CPP). Undoubtedly it is the NPP and the NDC who are the front-runners and they have both been in power for 2 four-year terms. The NPP is in the final lap of its second 4 year mandate. Ghanaians are in the best position to compare the state of Ghana in the era of the NDC, and today, under the NPP.

THE ECONOMY:
NDC: In 1993 when the NDC assumed office, the minimum wage was ¢720. In 2000 when they were preparing to exit government, the minimum wage was ¢4,200 (a little bellow 50 cents) with an annual inflation of 62%. The value of the cedi to the dollar was ¢7000:$1. This led to the continued rapid reduction in real income value whilst cost of living soared at a frightening rate. As a result of this volatile economic situation, access to loans by the business community and individuals were virtually impossible as a result of the indicators stated plus high bank rates.

NPP: As the NPP prepares to end its first 8 year term in office (for Akufo-Addo will surely win), minimum wage is ¢22,500 (about $2.20). Annual inflation as at June is around 18%. The value of the cedi to the dollar is ¢10,015:$1. Because of the stable economic environment the NPP government has created, the value of income is not fast depreciating; banks are now chasing the business community and individuals with loans at give-away rates. Indeed, the banking sector has expanded and no bank has collapsed as it did in the NDC era when Bank for Housing and Construction and Co-operative Bank suffered insolvency and collapse.

EDUCATION:
NDC: The NDC did very little for the educational sector. One must however be quick to credit them for the establishment of the University of Development Studies (UDS). Though the university was in a poor state as at the time the NDC was leaving office, at least, it was a start. That aside, the NDC introduced the JSS/SSS system. This policy which was supposed to place a little more technical emphasis on education and also equip those who could not go beyond the primary level with some technical skills, rather led to an increase in primary school drop-outs, street-hawking, porting, prostitution, etc. Indeed a cursory look around will reveal that victims of street-hawking and porting are victims of the failed JSS/SSS concept who are struggling to make ends meet.

NPP: The (UDS) has seen a lot of infrastructural improvement since the NPP came into government. Student enrolment in the institution has increased from 707 in the 2000/2001 to 6629 in the 2006/2007 academic year. Other public tertiary institutions have witnessed unprecedented infrastructural development, leading to increase in enrolment. Private tertiary institutions have increased during this period. Having identified the weaknesses in the NDC's JSS/SSS system the NPP government has introduced the JHS/SHS system which seeks to give real opportunities to our brothers and sisters who will not be able to further their education beyond the primary level, to acquire some real skill by venturing into the vocational institutes. Believing that the wealth of a nation rests with the education of its citizens, the NPP government has made primary education free in all public schools. Also, primary school children are being provided with one square meal a day. All these have led to an increase in primary school enrolment from 1,109,868 in 2004-2005 academic year to 4,916,346 in 2007-2008 academic year.

HEALTH:
NDC: Between 1993 and 2000 Ghana saw some improvement in the health sector under the NDC government. The Cape-Coast hospital and Tamale Hospitals were up-graded. That was about it. Because of poor remuneration and opportunities to develop their human resource capacities, 1993-2000 witnessed a high tide in the emigration of heath professional. The situation was further worsened with the introduction of the 'Cash and Carry'. This policy strictly permitted the extension of medical treatment to those who could readily afford it. If the cost of medical treatment was beyond your reach, you had to go back home and wait for death; simple.

NPP: Enter the NPP in 2003 and the country saw an unprecedented improvement in the health sector. The Komfo-Anokye teaching Hospital has been upgraded so much that Doctors and patients from parts of Africa are now going there to be treated. The quantity of hospital beds has also seen significant improvement. From a total of 14,653 in 2000, the total number of available hospital beds increased to 18,420 in 2005. Conditions of service have been greatly improved under the NPP government, greatly stemming the tide in the emigration of our health professionals. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the NPP government in the health sector is the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to replace NDC's inhuman Cash and Carry policy. With over 150 schemes in operation and a total membership of over 11 million, the NHIS has really come to provide great health relief for Ghanaians. Indeed so welcome has the scheme been to Ghanaians, so thankful are they to the NPP government and so threatening it is to the NDC's chances of coming back to power, that they (NDC) are struggling to claim credit for the policy or desperately trying to identify its weaknesses. Whichever way you look at it, the fact remains that the NHIS is the 'baby' of the NPP administration and when President Kufuor hands over to Nana Ado Danquah Akufo-Addo in January 2008, the scheme will be further improved.

There are other sectors under the NDC and the NPP which will be laid side by side in Part 2 of this write up, to enable Ghanaians make an informed decision come December 2008.

Till then……

YAO DAGADU
[email protected]

Yao Dagadu
Yao Dagadu, © 2008

This author has authored 9 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: YaoDagadu

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