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07.08.2005 General News

Govt website has 1992 facts and figures

Statesman
Govt website has 1992 facts and figures

Statesman, Aug 1 -- RECENTLY, the ICT-expert Director General of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Eva Lokko suffered humiliation when it was revealed that the national broadcaster's website still had Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings as Head of State, five years after John Agyekum Kufuor succeeded him. A more embarrassing fact discovered by The Statesman is that Government's own main website displays facts and figures that date as far back as 1997. Worse still, these outdated facts and figures give a negative impression of the country's economic state.

For example, under the 'Finance' page – GDP real growth is put at 3%, the rate then estimated for 1998. The latest growth rate was 5.8% for 2004. This is, however, missing.

The population below poverty line given is the estimate for 1992.

Inflation rate provided is 27.7%. This is the rate, as rightly indicated by the website, for 1997. The annual average rate of inflation for 2004 was 12.6% The budget revenue and expenditure given represent 1996 estimates. These are $1.39 billion and $1.47 billion respectively. The forecast for 2005 is put at nearly $2.5 billion for both. The total estimated revenue for 2005 is ¢23.7trillion The total value of annual exports given is for 1997: $1.5 billion. Imports value is put at $2.1 billion, representing 1997.

While the 2000 census put unemployment at 11% of the population, the website provides 1997 estimate which puts unemployment at 20%.

The value of economic aid received is the 1995 figure of $477.3 million. The source is stated as Information Service Department 2002. Grants for 2004 was ¢4.9trillion; Loans ¢3.3trillion.

Still on Finance, there is no mention of the 100% Paris Club debt cancellation, let alone the recent announcement of 100% cancellation of multilateral debt owed to AfDB, IMF and World Bank.

No mention of Ghana's favourable sovereign credit rating of B+.

The website states: “In 2001, due to depleted government coffers when a new government took over, the new government decided to go HIPC to enable it accrue some money for development without which it could not achieve much. In March 2001 the Government of Ghana took a bold decision to take advantage of the Enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. That decision has already borne fruit in the past year.”

This information dating back 2002, appears to be the most current on the page. Indeed, it gives the cedi exchange rate to the dollar of 2002. It reads: new cedis (¢) per US$1-7,800 (June 2002)

The situation is not that different from the page on the Economy. It states: “The economy is coming out of a very turbulent two-year period but today, the domestic economic situation is decidedly different. The economic aggregates and indicators are pointing in the right directions. Inflation is coming down, interest rates are easing downward, exchange market volatility has diminished.

“Macroeconomic policies have shifted from one of considerable fiscal relaxation and monetary accommodation to one of fiscal stringency and monetary restraint. The rigorous implementation of the fiscal framework along with the price adjustments to utilities, petroleum and other services introduced in the interim budget explains the observed stability in the foreign exchange market. “The first tangible benefit of HIPC is already being felt in an improved cash flow position. The greatest benefit is yet to come in the form of a deep reduction in the stock of debt from its presently unsustainable levels, releasing funds for social sector spending programs.” The above depicts the situation in 2002.

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa.

For a country that prides itself as desiring to be the ICT hub of the sub-region, none of the ministries have a functional website. Indeed only seven ministries displayed domain names, yet the link was dead.

The name of the Ministry of Lands and Mines is completely missing from the main Ghana Government website. This is a Ministry which is core to efforts to attracting inward investment.

In fact the link to the Ministry of Communications under the Ministries page, when you are in another Ministry, at the Government site is missing. Yet, it has a world-class website – moc.gov.gh. The Ministry, which is spearheading the ICT 'revolution', has a website of its own yet the link has not been created. Indeed, apart from Albert Kan-Dapaah, the most ICT-conscious Minister appears to be Richard Anane. The Road Transport Ministry has a functional website - www.mrt.gov.gh – which when The Statesman checked on Friday July 29, was in fact last updated on July 25, 2005.

Worse was to come, though. The Ministry of Education and Sports, which is championing upgrading one Secondary School in every district, displayed a website - www.ghana.edu.gh . But, this was dead.

What was becoming clear was that domain names had been purchased for many of the ministries yet the sites had not been built.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs site - www.mfa.gov.gh – was dead. Ministry for Food and Agriculture site - www.mofa.gov.gh – was dead. The only partially functioning website was under Ministry of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City- www.ghanatourism.gov.gh – but that only covered tourism.

Ministry of Private Sector Development and PSI site - www.mpsd.gov.gh – was dead.

Ministry of Energy site - www.energycom.gov.gh – dead.

Ministry of Health site - www.moh-ghana.org – was also dead.

The other Ministries, including Trade and Industry, Environment and Science, Parliamentary Affairs, Interior, Works and Housing, and Local Government and Rural Development had no website. Some did not even have email addresses.

The Public Agenda report which drew so much condemnation read: “Five years after former Jerry Rawlings handed over power to his successor, he is still listed in the website of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) as the president of Ghana. “A Ghanaian based in London drew Public Agenda's attention to this error, when he visited GBC's website after hearing of their 70th anniversary celebration and found that Flt Lt. JJ Rawlings was still Ghana's president. Why, because the person employed to update the site hasn't done that since September 1999. “I am sure that nobody even notices”, the worried Ghanaian said.

“When Public Agenda took the pains to browse the GBC website, it churned out dead news dating as far back as Thursday, 7 September 1999. The headline story on the site reads, 'The president, Flt Lt. Rawlings has urged Ghanaians living in Libya and other countries to appreciate the value of one another and live in dignity.' The other story is 'the commissioner of internal revenue service, David Adom says the government has to increase taxes to cater for the shortfall in the agriculture and mining sectors.'

“For the records,”, the paper stated, “ Jerry Rawlings handed over power to President John Agyekum Kufuor on January 7, 2001 at the impressive ceremony, marking the first time a constitutional president handed over power peacefully to another elected president.”

For the records, the New Patriotic Party has made information technology as a high priority area. This motivated the twinning of Technology with the Communications Ministry. Yet, one would not even find a website for that ministry to even learn about its policy statement.

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