The Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a pressure group, on Tuesday said the mitigation package announced by President John Agyekum Kufuor last May to alleviate the plight of Ghanaians under the weight of general hardship nationwide had failed.
The group said the failure of the President's mitigation package was not surprising, as it should be seen within the context of the general mismanagement and lack of commitment to solving the problems confronting Ghanaians.
Dr. Omane Boamah, a leading member of the CJA, was speaking at a press conference in Accra on the package announced by President Kufuor.
He said the President's mitigation package consisted of the removal of import duties and intervention in the petroleum and agricultural sectors.
He said according to President Kufuor, the measures were to bring about reduction in food prices and as such food items like rice, cooking oil and yellow corn were the main targets.
Dr. Boamah said the CJA's own investigation in the sector revealed that contrary to government’s claims, the prices of items had not gone down and that the measures had been outright disaster.
He said the CJA found that, for example, wholesale price of imported 50 kilogram “LDC Incumsa sugar” had not reduced. In May 2008, it was selling at 320,000 cedis but had now gone up to 356,000 cedis.
Dr Boamah said the situation was not different for 25 kilograms “Crown Rice” whose price had increased from 380,000 cedis in May to 395,000 cedis today. Gino 5-litre cooking oil, which was 380,000 cedis in May 2008 now sells at 395,000 cedis.
He said what was fascinating about the government's intervention in the sector was that whereas President Kufuor had given Ghanaians the impression that he was bringing them immediate relief, he announced measures whose impact could only be felt in the long term.
He cited for example that the President directed the management of the Afforestation Programme to increase the planting of foodstuffs in some demarcated areas around the country.
He said the President also directed the Ministry of Agriculture to step up the supply of tractors at subsidized rates to farmers as well as accelerate the provision of small irrigation dams, and through its extension services, oversee the supply of improved seeds.
Dr Boamah further said the measure announced by the government did not have any short-term effect because the President was talking of fertilizers, tractors and irrigation dams at a time when farmers had already finished clearing and ploughing and had even planted crops for the season.