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11.08.2005 General News

Mills calls for broader consensus on NHIS


Accra, Aug 11, GNA - Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Former Vice President, on Thursday called for broader consensus on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to make it overcome what the government called "teething problems" which were preventing it from a take-off. He told a press conference he held in Accra on some national issues that the problems involved in the implementation of NHIS were more deep-seated than what was being termed as teething ones and that there was the need to "call the stakeholders, including the opposition to the discussion table to find a way out of the present confusion."

Prof Mills said, "the Cash and Carry system is still with us five years after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised to abolish 'that iniquitous' system (and), this month August is exactly one year since we all started paying 2.5 per cent National Health Insurance Levy and the compulsory deductions of workers' 2.5 per cent Social Security and National Insurance Trust contributions commenced.

He said the Government had found one excuse after the other to postpone the implementation of the Scheme nationwide but the payments and deductions were being rigorously made on ongoing basis. The NDC saw the writing on the wall and had advised the NPP to hasten slowly but was not taken "since the government's real interest was simply to increase VAT rate by 2.5 per cent to fulfil an agreement with the IMF", he said.

Prof Mills said it was regrettable that from "an inherited position of the first in the world in guinea worm eradication, the NPP government has taken Ghana to second from the bottom, next only to war torn Sudan." On law and order, Prof Mills said, "the image of rudderless ship of State is even more vivid in the law and order sector - armed robbery is on the ascendancy, mugging in the cities and towns has assumed new dimensions."

Prof Mills said, "The impudence which highway robbers strike on the main Kumasi-Tamale-Bolgatanga-Paga road is only matched by the ease with which innocent citizens are defrauded of millions of cedis through white collar crime.

"From all over the country, reports of persons taking the law into their own hands at a time when the Government prides itself in having resourced the Police both materially and logistically creates the frightening picture of a society in which law and order is on the verge of breaking down."

Prof Mills said, "this is, however, not the time to apportion blame and that if there were any time that mother Ghana needed the hands of all her sons and daughters on deck, that time is now".

He said there must be a new commitment to bring all on board "because the politics of divide and rule is not taking this country anywhere".