HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESIDENT’S 2012 STATE OF THE NATIONS ADDRESS
The president on 15 February 2012 delivered his state of the nations address to parliament as required of him by Article 67 of the constitution of Ghana. In his address, the President commented on the substantial progress made by government in pursuance of the “Better Ghana” Agenda albeit the internal and external constraints faced by the country in terms of financial resources and logistics to meet the demands of projects and various agenda.
This discussion will highlight some aspects of the Presidents address in relation to some sectors of the economy, the implication for growth and development, how successful the programmes have been and the way forward.
In relation to the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP), the President mentioned the introduction of this Pay Policy in 2010 with 11% of public service employees being migrated. In the 2011 year however, 80% of public service employees were migrated onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) and the process expected to be completed within the 2012 fiscal year.
The introduction of the SSPP has brought an increase in the wage bill. This is to deal with the inequities and distortions in the pay structure of the public sector. This will ensure productivity in the public sector and ameliorate the problems of frequent industrial strike actions by public sector workers.
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This programme has been quite successful with various government institutions like the Ghana Prison Service, The Ghana Police Service, the Ghana National Fire Service and the other institutions being migrated onto the scheme. However, the were few setbacks, some institutions like the Polytechnic Teachers were not migrated and on time and others like the Ghana Prison Service complained their salary structure were not properly adjusted. This resulted in industrial strike actions by the sectors concerned leading to loss of productive time.
With reference to security, law and order, the upcoming 2012 elections was the focus of this sector.Tthe security institutions according to the address must be in a state of readiness to ensure peace and calm before, during and after the elections.
Towards this end, the strength of the Police Personnel has been increased by over 4,000 and steps have also been taken to modernize its forensic facilities to assist in crime prevention. Large quantities of bulletproof vests, communication gadgets and vehicles have been procured to boost efficiency.
With respect to the Ghana Armed Forces, the statement indicated that acquisition has been made in equipment and hardware for the Ghana Air Force and Navy especially for the protection of the oil fields. 48 Engineer regiment has also been furnished with the modern equipment for road construction and general construction works.
The procurement of these logistics for the various security institutions will assist them in discharging their duties diligently. The Snake Class fast patrol vessels from China and the CASA aircraft from Spain procured for the Navy and Air Force respectively, will assist in the patrolling our territorial waters, air space and beyond and also ward off potential pirates and off shore theft of oil out the rigs. The police will also maintain law and order because they have the means to investigate crime and prevent it. The strength increase in police has beefed up the existing number and this has made it possible for rural areas to have an increase in personnel.
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On the issue of job creation, the President cited the case where he directed Ministers as leaders of their sectors to work with the leadership of the private sector to find innovative ways of creating jobs outside the traditional employment avenues. The President also reiterated the employment of created in the traditional sector. He was of the view that, the heavy infrastructural development and the petrochemical development associated with the oil and gas find will create more jobs.
The creation of jobs will develop the human capacity and resource base of the country. It will provide employment for the youth. This will reduce unemployment with its associated vices like armed robbery, prostitution, drug trafficking and other social vices.
This venture has been quite successful with the employment of the youth by the 15 module National youth employment programme. It was recorded in February 2011 that the programme had employed 108,000 youth. This to a large extent has alleviated the unemployment situation with those employed finding means of earning income.
Although the government continues to make efforts at creating more jobs, the unemployment rate continues to rise. In the Presidents address, it would have been more explicit if figures were given to quantify the jobs created. For instance Policy think tank IMANI was of the view that the president should have used the opportunity to announce measures being put in place to fund the statistical service and its partners as to the documentation of employment and unemployment statistics.
In the case of agriculture with emphasis on crop farming, mention was made of the modernization of agriculture by use of combine harvesters, maize harvesters and grain cocoon storage facilities and bore holes for agric purposes where non existed. Also, the establishment of agricultural mechanization centres was also mentioned.
In view of these developments, the nation recorded a significant yield in rice, yam and maize. For instance the National Buffer Stock Company (NBSC) off loaded 10,000 metric tones of maize into the market to stabilize prices.
These developments leads to the dependence on locally produced food stuffs which seeks to better the lot of our farmers. With this, more jobs will be created in the agric sector and this will encourage the youth to go into agriculture.
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This sector faced some challenges although it performed quite well. The president will have benefited we the audience with available statistics as enumerated by IMANI.
Finally, with reference to rural electrification in the energy sector, the president mentioned that over 1,700 communities have been connected to the national grid under various rural electrification projects from 2009 to date. He projected that the government was aiming extending electricity to 4,000 or more villages in all the 10 regions.
The extension of electricity throughout the country will accelerate rural development as it will boost small scale industrialization. It will also reduce rural-urban migration as villagers will have access to entertainment and modern facilities. This will reduce pressure on urban areas and the problem of unemployment.
With reference to the 2012 national budget, 406 communities were connected to the national grid within the year. This number inadequate and more efforts will have to be put in place to speed up the project.
In conclusion, the Single Spine Salary Structure to a large extent has solved some of the discrepancies in the public sector pay structure by migrating most them onto the policy. The procurement of logistics for the security services will assist in maintaining law and order in the country by ensuring the stakeholders in that sector ensure the right things are done.
Although the government has a major role to play in ensuring its promises and aspirations are met, the onus also lie on we the citizenry to assist government by contributing our quota in terms of taxes and abiding by laws this will ensure that our desires are met as a nation.