PoliticsElectionsFive tasks for Ghana's incoming president

Fri,24Nov2017

Posted on Thursday, 06 December 2012 10:43

Five tasks for Ghana's incoming president

As the first round of Ghana's elections begin on 7 December, Franklin Cudjoe, executive director of Ghana's IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, sets out five key priorities for the next administration. The second round of Ghana's national elections end on 28 December, bringing in a government that must manage record revenue from the oil and gas sector and try to meet the rising demands of the population

 

Ghanaians choose a new president in late December, and the new leader – whether it is incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) or challenger Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – faces a series of policy choices. As government revenue rises to record levels due to oil and gas production, politicians will have more resources to devote to pumping water into neighbourhoods and building roads.

What follows is a list of areas where the new government must focus its attention in order to avoid the mistakes of the past and to develop robust management systems to ensure the country’s social and economic development.

 

Risk Analysis on all Government Projects

The presidency should not become the strategic hub for policy planning from a financial and technical point of view. Political accountability resides in the executive, and that is enough. We concede that for most strategic projects the requisite expertise may be spread across multiple ministries, departments and agencies. The Cabinet Office can be strengthened and given powers that allow it to coordinate expertise across the civil service.


We have centres of expertise that could be asked to help government create a kind of ‘administrator general’ role in the cabinet to vet all proposed projects. It goes without saying that such a move can only succeed if it follows a strengthening of the Cabinet Office to ensure coordination across the technical, financial and political accountability functions of the executive.

 

Reform the Pension Sector

Potentially, income from pension contributions is more sustainable than oil. For as long as people continue to work, there will continue to be pension contributions. Scheme trustees can invest funds in the private sector, real estate, listed equities and government treasuries. Pension sector reforms planned three-and-a-half years ago are only now being implemented. But there are serious questions to be asked about the operations of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), which seems to have become a cash cow for politicians. SSNIT has invested in loss-making government enterprises and has very shady reporting methods that can only be responsible for the teeming number of public sector workers who retire on $35 a month after contributing to the scheme for 30 years.

 

Determine an optimal level of taxation

What level of public spending is desirable for a developing country such as Ghana? Should the government spend one-tenth, one-third or half of the national income? The size of government expenditure is naturally associated with the ideal level 
of tax revenue.


Taxes are a necessary evil, but a generally accepted view is that they should not be a disincentive for profitable economic activity. In Ghana, however, a lot of industry captains and the labour force complain about the tax rates. The perception in the formal sector is that it bears too much of the tax burden to achieve the government’s revenue targets.



Avoid wasteful projects

Even though we all applauded the decision to go biometric in this election, every objective observer knew we have already collected biometric details of citizens for the following purposes: national passports, the e-Zwich payments platform and the national identification system. It has been proposed that we do the same for voters’ ID cards, drivers’ licences and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards. A harmonised system means you may even be able to use one card for multiple systems.


Even ignoring the inconveniences and inefficiencies, the monetary costs of deploying parallel infrastructure is no small matter. Let us assume the cost of the Electoral Commission system is the benchmark. A crude estimate 
of the total cost is a whopping $400m. We believe we can cut $250m off this figure through harmonisation.


Review the single spine salary structure for the civil service

Government’s attempt to quadruple the salaries of public sector workers through the single spine salary scheme has been a drawback to strengthening the private sector as an innovator. The single spine scheme may appear to bring relative peace on the labour front, but for how long?  Simply, single spine is a diversionary tactic embraced first by the NPP and implemented by the NDC to sidestep critical issues since the structural adjustment period.


The fundamental logic of single spine is crooked. Wage harmonisation in the public sector betrays an arrogance of central planning rarely encountered in our tepid age of policymaking. There is no credible science that can, without descending into farce, establish equivalences between different job roles in different settings



Franklin Cudjoe

Franklin Cudjoe

Franklin Cudjoe is editor of AfricanLiberty.org and founding director of IMANI, a think tank ranked 5th most influential in Africa, 2009 and the only African think tank named in the top 25 most innovative think tanks in the world in 2010. IMANI is dedicated to fostering public awareness of important policy issues concerning business, government and civil society.

He has been cited in the UK House of Commons’ debate on aid and development in Africa and by South Africa's Supreme Court Judge on patents and intellectual property in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Cudjoe debated sitting Tanzanian President Mkapa on globalisation in 2007. In 2010, Cudjoe led the World Bank Ghana-Africa region‘s task to help shape the World Bank’s strategy for Africa for 2010-13. In 2010 Franklin was consulted by the U.K’s Prime Minister’s office on how to make effective use of British aid in Africa.

Cudjoe is an Earhart doctoral fellow at Buckingham University in the U.K. focusing on the impact of corporate social investment in Ghana and donor driven projects. He is an alumnus of Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation’s Think Tank MBA programme and the Montreal Economic Institute's Think Tank Training programme. In 2010 Cudjoe was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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