EDITORIAL: The State Of The Nation
On Tuesday, January 1, 2006, His Excellency President John Agyekum Kufuor, gave what is supposed to be 'The State of the Nation Address', focusing on four areas.
The four areas tackled were: what the budget is calculated to do in moving the economy further; the current stage of our socio-economic development; Government's role in assuring rapid implementation of programmes and policies; and the main challenge to the body politic in efforts to accelerate growth.
Even though these areas look broad enough, unfortunately, too much of the president's address was reactive, whilst some areas of the statement did not have much in substance, with regards to where we are now, as there were some very important objectives mentioned that were still under contemplation.
For instance, whereas "government expects a high standard of education delivery and professional conduct of teachers", the re-introduction of the independent Inspectorate Division to monitor to ensure the achievement of the human development objective "is contemplated."
Again, even though the president states that "in a conservative estimate, over 250,000 jobs have been generated over the past two years", his breakdown of that figure included "The Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment is embarking on a comprehensive youth employment programme in all districts of the country which will generate over 170, 000 more jobs by the end of this year." (Emphasis ours)
The president proceeded further to point out that "these figures reflect direct jobs created by the public sector, but the multiplier effect makes the actual numbers even higher."
It does not take much thinking that embarking on a job creation venture that will generate employment does not mean the jobs have been created. The president's researchers ought to be apt in presenting such information for the president's consumption and subsequent dissemination to his people.
The problem of the absence of accurate data on employment and unemployment, to arrive at a net employment created, has persisted since the 1970s.
One area that has become very topical in Ghana is that of corruption or the fight against corruption.
Here too, the president has been consistent in placing a higher responsibility on the media, even though he states "budgetary allocations to the state institutions with responsibility to investigate and prosecute corruption here quadrupled since 2001."
It was very strange that the president required of journalists to "go directly to the Police, not the President," referring those who still felt like going to him, to address their concerns to the Office of Accountability under him "which can be trusted to act independent of government"!
It is unfortunate that after state institutions have been resourced so much, as we are made to believe, the private media, after independently working to highlight incidents of corruption, is expected to do the extra legwork for the state.
As The Chronicle has observed in this column before, government's consistent accusation of the press, for what it considers negative publicity of Ghana, is very unfortunate. There has been too much of that whining in recent times.
The news that two of the three revenue-collecting agencies failed to meet their revenue targets, leading to an overall shortfall in government revenue, is a vindication of The Chronicle's stance on the consequences of hiking of fuel prices.
We had stated, in no uncertain terms, the likely consequences of that major hike in the prices of petroleum products; we had indicated its potential of affecting productivity through increased costs and stagnating the growth of businesses.
The state of our nation is precarious enough that the contributions of all, whether contemplated to be positive or negative ought to be given serious consideration.