The leadership of the New Patriotic Party has warned Ghanaians against the dangers of voting the National Democratic Congress back into office after 19 years in office, when they left the country with a collapsed economy.
The NPP is warning that the promise by the NDC to go against the normal insurance practice of spreading the cost of risk and, instead, introduce a one-off premium payment for the National Health Insurance Scheme, instead of the small annual premium contribution made by its fee-paying policy holders, would collapse the scheme.
"Either the one-time premium would be so high that most Ghanaians could not pay and would return to the days of 'cash & carry' or the premium collected would be so low that it would leave the scheme cash-strapped and lead to its collapse. Whichever way, a vote for the NDC would endanger the NHIS,' said the National Chairman of the NPP at a post-manifestoes launch news conference yesterday.
The NPP is therefore appealing to the NDC to come clean and tell Ghanaians how much that proposed one-off payment would be.
Peter Mac Manu, who addressed the high-powered news conference, said, 'In sum, the NDC manifesto is therefore wrong in part, timid in part, a pale imitation of the NPP manifesto in the rest of it and dangerous in whole.'
He added that while the NDC is promising to continue with the very programmes of the NPP which the NDC has been criticising, their 19-year record shows that they have neither the competence nor commitment to carry their promises through.
He said, after NDC leader Prof Mills had given the NPP a failing grade on the incumbent government's performance, 'the NDC ended up pledging to continue most of our major policies' but with 'irresponsible modifications' that would 'set our nation back for years.
Mr Mac Manu, in accusing the NDC of having no original ideas, identified the NDC problem to the fact that it 'has had very little planning to do in how to move Ghana forward in the last seven years in opposition, besides scheming on how acerbic they can spew out insults and lies about the NPP.'
Mr Mac Manu ridiculed the NDC for threatening to bring back Vision 2020, which was dismissed by J H Mensah in 2000 for suffering from glaucoma.
He said the NDC is telling the average Ghanaian to wait for another 12 years to add $300 to their income, when there is every indication that the country is on course in achieving that by 2012:
'According to the NDC's own projections, their plan will not get Ghana to middle income status (per capita income of $1,000 per annum) until 2020. On the other hand, according to figures from the World Bank and Bank of Ghana, among others, per capita GDP which was $270 in 2000 rose to $677 in 2007, under the NPPP, and is on schedule to reach $1,000 in 2012. Thus, the NPP will get to middle income status 8 years ahead of the NDC even under current conditions.'
Mr Mac Manu stressed, 'After ridiculing President Kufuor's pledge to take Ghana to middle income status by 2015, they now admit that they cannot take us there till 2020! They want to take Ghana back to their discredited Vision 2020.'
The NPP Chairman noted that Ghana's per capita income is currently at $717.
He stated that the national election scheduled for December was going to be about trust and competence between the two major parties; the governing NPP and the main opposition NDC.
By December both political parties would have ruled for eight years.
'For the rest of this campaign, let the issues of policy and ability to implement them be joined,' he stressed.
The NPP National Chairman spoke against the backdrop that the main opposition NDC has in its manifesto certain inaccuracies and policies and programmes which are not achievable.
The NDC manifesto stated that the growth in 2007 was 5.8% instead of 6.3%; current national debt at the end of June was 7.8 billion Ghana Cedis, and not 91trillion as they claimedAccording to him, the NDC has 'stolen' the central ideas of the NPP which include the National Health Insurance Scheme, School Feeding Programme, Capitation Grant, National Youth Employment Programme, Development Fund for the northern part of the country, among others.
He said the NDC lacks original ideas and has a sense of inertia on how to solve the country's problems saying, former President Rawlings would make major decisions if the NDC was returned to power.
NDC's manifesto for 2008 election promises to fight corruption and extend the School Feeding Programme and the Capitation Grant - all these policies and programmes are on-going under the NPP administration.