As I was having a conversation with a friend about Ghana, an important issue came up which I think is worth discussing as a People. Politicians are the last group of people who attract mercy or patience at the hand of the populace which is sometimes justifiable. But as a people, the expectations we put on the government and politicians contribute to how they act on many occasions (I advise you take a look at the article written by Elizabeth Ohene titled: Maybe we want them to steal https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Maybe-we-want-them-to-steal-780303 ).
Now consider this hypothetical scenario of PersonZ:
“PersonZ has a kidney problem, lung issues, heart problem, diabetes, cancer and brain tumour. All these body parts are critical to his existence and must be treated. He does not have the finances to treat all this, that’s assuming all the surgeries and treatments will be successful. If PersonZ gets some financial help, which treatment would you advise he gets first?”
I believe sector-driven budgeting (that is allocating a chunk of the budget to specific sectors based on urgency) would produce tangible developments in various sectors. But the issue of PersonZ stated above arises. Which sector can we boldly say does not need urgent treatment in Ghana. Every government must deal with years of problems accumulated by past governments and are expected to solve all that in four years and if lucky eight years.
In Ghana, as came up in the discussion with the friend, the education, health, agriculture, labour (employment), finance (debt), sanitation, housing, transportation, security, corruption, population among others in Ghana are all in need of urgent treatment. Even within the sectors, the subsectors need emergency treatment. For instance, in the education sector, the basic, secondary and tertiary need urgent considerations. Because of this, governments try to meet all the needs at a time by sharing the finance “piece-piece” among these sectors. Thus, significant development cannot be seen in these sectors. Governments seem to be sustaining the sectors and not developing them. So, how did Ghana get to the point where all these sectors are in an emergency? This we cannot fault only the government or political parties. We (the people, governments and political parties) have all contributed to this accumulated problem.
This emergency state of Ghanaian sectors is evident in the Free Senior High School (FSHS) concept. This is a laudable policy and must be encouraged. This is a specialisation within the education sector that take a large portion of the sector’s resources. This affects the finances of the other sub-sectors in education and the other sectors. People, including the immediate past President, justifiably and reasonable have expressed concerns over the fixation of the ruling party to pump so much money into secondary school education and have not paid must attention to other sectors. But from all the statistics and indications, the FSHS has increased the number of students at the secondary level and has consequently reduced the yearly number of dropouts. This FSHS initiative cannot be put on hold because the future of the country cannot be leveraged for anything. But concentrating so much on a sector will leave other critical sectors of the economy in a dreadful state (opportunity cost). Concentrating on FSHS is justifiable, but others will reasonably ask what about roads, hospitals, employment, housing, agriculture and so on. Unfortunately, our space has been politicised to the point where no government has the goodwill and freedom to execute targeted projects and policies.
I am neither saying the politicians do not deserve to be berated at times nor am I endorsing mediocrity, but it is also good to analyse issues to be more informed and reasonable in what to expect.
Just imagine you meet PersonZ, what will be your advice on the treatment he should seek first. Just think about it.
God help and bless Ghana
Gideon Kwame Otchere
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