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19.03.2009 Feature Article

An Unbearable Cost Of Living

An Unbearable Cost Of Living

Though the political power won by the NDC in the December 2008 presidential and parliamentary election appeared as a 'big sweet' surprise not only to the ordinary supporters of their party, but also to their bigwigs. The NDC Manifesto which I happen to have access to and about which I wish to comment has a very interesting yardstick by which the performance of the NDC Government shall be measured in 2012.

In this piece, I don't intend to go into some other sensitive comments which were made by some important figures of the party notably among which was that of the current Vice President who said on a political platform: “The NPP Government keeps deceiving the people of Ghana with GDP growth and inflation, do we eat GDP? Do we eat inflation?”. We are all in the country and Ghanaians are watching to see what the NDC government will someday come to say about the country's GDP and inflation since those economic terms are not necessary: because according to his Excellency, the Vice President, we don't eat them.

Well, the extract below is from the NDC 2004 Manifesto in which they tried to compare prices of goods and services between December,2000 (the time NDC left office) and 2004 (a period when the NPP was in power).Below is the extract for your study and impartial judgment in 2012:

“AN UNBEARABLE COST OF LIVING
The cost of living in Ghana today is simply unbearable. The NDC Government will work to reduce the cost of living. The complaints of the people about their inability to make ends meet is clearly justified when their earning power is juxtaposed against the prices of goods and services on the market. The NDC Government will work to reduce the cost of living.

The following figures of price indices tell their own story.

The rate for 100 kilowatts of electricity per month has increased from ¢10,000 in December 2000 to ¢58,500, an increase of 485% in just over 3 years. In suburban Accra, the price of a bucket of water has increased from ¢300 to ¢1,000, while a 15 kilogram cylinder of LPG gas has risen from ¢15,000 in December 2000 to ¢55,000, an over 350% increase. The price of a gallon of petrol has increased from ¢6,500 in 2000 to ¢20,000 in 2004. Within the same period, the price of a beer bottle of kerosene has increased from ¢1,000 to ¢4,000. A bag of charcoal now costs ¢50,000 against ¢17,000 in December 2000.

A one-room rental unit in Accra has increased from ¢30,000 per month in December 2000 to a current figure of ¢100,000 an over 200% increase, obviously owing to the increases in the prices of building materials. A 50 kilogram bag of cement has risen from ¢20,000 in December 2000 to ¢52,000, an increase of over 150%, and the price of a gallon of emulsion paint has risen from ¢45,000 in December 2000 to the current price of ¢95,000, more than double the price.

School fees at primary and JSS levels have increased by over 140%. A first year SSS student paid ¢2 million in September 2003, up from ¢520,000 in December 2000. Fees paid by Law School students have increased from ¢2 million to ¢12 million, and for medical students to ¢40 million. Academic user fees paid by University students have increased from ¢700,000 in September 2000 to ¢1.8 million.

A stick of candle now sells for ¢1,000 compared to ¢250 in December 2000, a 300% increase.

The prices of common medicines such as paracematol, chloroquine and eye-drops have gone up by over 100%.

In the food and beverages sub-sector, a tuber of yam is selling for ¢10,000, up from ¢2,000 in December 2000. A small ball of Ga kenkey has doubled in price from ¢500 to ¢1,000, while the price of 175 grams of milk has increased from ¢1,200 to ¢4,000. The price of an average-sized broiler chicken has increased from ¢20,000 in December 2000 to a current price of ¢50,000, while a crate of eggs now costs ¢30,000, up from December 2000's ¢12,500.

The price of bread is gradually going beyond the means of the average Ghanaian and bread is becoming food for the rich and famous and people with high political connections because the price of a bag of flour has moved from ¢80,000 in December 2000 to the current ¢240,000, an increase of 200%.

In the services sector, the cost of clearing a 20 feet container at the Tema Harbour has risen from ¢4 million in 2000 to ¢80 million in 2004.

Simply put, the cost of living is so high that the majority of Ghanaians cannot afford one meal a day, especially when viewed against the background of the very inadequate wage increases in 2003 and 2004.

These are the hardships and the harsh realities that the NDC's economic policies 2005-2009, will seek to address.

Among other things, we will work with labour to strive to pay a wage that can take care of the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter and leave a little extra to cover minimum water, education, health, transportation and electricity costs.

A step in this direction will be to freeze taxes on personal incomes below a middle class threshold for the next four years in order to stabilise the personal incomes of the people.”

I am quite glad that the NDC Government created this basis on which the rational people of Ghana will judge them in 2012 when prices of goods and services are compared.

I humbly call on the people of Ghana to start noting down the prices of goods and services now so as to be able to make very informed decision in 2012.

Credit: Kasuli Mahama Doobia
[Email: [email protected]
The writer is a youth activist in Zabzugu

Kasuli Mahama Doobia
Kasuli Mahama Doobia, © 2009

This author has authored 3 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KasuliMahamaDoobia

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