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Yoofi Grant: NPP's Big Plans To Transform Ghana Feasible   
 
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01-Oct-2012  
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A member of the Manifesto Drafting Committee of the opposition New Patriotic Party, Mr Yoofi Grant has said the NPP, through its elections 2012 manifesto will make sweeping changes in the fields of education, industry, and infrastructure, and usher in an age of unprecedented prosperity in Ghana.

He was laying out the party’s proposed policies on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday.

Mr Grant said that transformation was the watchword of the day.

Schools

Justifying the NPP's proposed free SHS education policy, he contended that “without a very knowledgeable, competent workforce,” a major economic transformation will be almost impossible to affect, noting that more educated people are often more capable in a wide range of professional settings.

Grant maintained that for the education initiative to transform the nation, quality education must be available to everyone. Therefore, the new bump in education spending will focus on training 60,000 new teachers and providing them with better access to technology, good curricula and effective pedagogy techniques, because the NPP believes that quality begins with teachers. The increase in education funding, equivalent to just under 1% of the GDP, will also go towards expanding and rehabilitating existing schools and establishing cluster schools in underserved areas so that education is widely available.

Grant said the NPP may consider subsidizing private school students to the tune of $150 a year because free education is a constitutionally guaranteed right. However, he also hopes that the recent proliferation of public schools indicates a willingness of private educators to share the government’s financial burden in overhauling the education system.

Industry

At the moment, the service sector is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the economy, but Grant believes that industry, especially manufacturing, should make up at least 25% of the GDP. By processing materials before export, firms can increase the value that they extract from those materials. As examples, he mentioned that Ghana exports high quality timber while importing furniture and toothpicks, and that processed cocoa powder would fetch a significantly higher export price than raw beans.

The North of the country with its rich iron and manganese deposits could be a powerful steel and iron production centre. This is one of the industries that would benefit substantially from the construction of a railway system, which would run both from the resource-rich North to the port in the South and from East to West. Improvements in road systems will also enhance production by increasing producers’ access to crucial materials. The NPP plans to use dams to increase manufacturers’ access to chronically under-available power supply and hopes that Ghanaian private enterprise will start refining crude oil to create more profit and further alleviate energy shortages.

By re-evaluating the tax and tariff systems, the NPP hopes to fix a system in which manufacturers pay taxes to import certain raw materials while many finished products are imported tax-free, effectively discouraging domestic manufacturing.

The other area of domestic production in need of major overhaul is agriculture.

An increase in the production of food for domestic consumption and export are crucial in achieving food security and boosting the GDP, but farmers currently lack access to low cost financing and need a more reliable source of credit. Today, less than 20% of the Agricultural Development Bank’s lending portfolio is dedicated to agricultural concerns.

Ghanaian farmers tend to use less fertilizer than farmers in other countries. By increasing access to loans, the NPP would make it easier for farmers to buy fertilizer.

Grant also proposed subsidies to encourage farmers to grow soya beans and maize, two primary ingredients in poultry feed. These subsidies would make Ghanaian farmers more competitive with feed-producers abroad who receive government subsidies in their own countries and are thus able to undersell domestic producers. Such a policy would also benefit the poultry farmers who would see a drop in feed prices.

Finally, by sending students to farms to instruct agricultural workers on more scientifically sound farming practices, Grant hopes, an NPP government will increase crop yield.

Infrastructure

Healthcare access is one of Ghana’s major infrastructure challenges today. Grant proposed doubling the number of state-of-the-art hospitals in Ghana to 6 in an effort to encourage Ghanaian doctors to stay and work at home and to increase the availability of medical training. In addition, he proposed the establishment of one medical center in each district to make medical care more accessible to people in more marginalized areas. He also wants to see an increase in nursing schools to remedy the shortage of nurses and midwifery training schools that would turn out staff for the new medical centers.

The other side of the healthcare equation is disease prevention. Grant said the NPP intended to reintroduce community health training; teaching people about sanitation and other topics to inhibit the spread of diseases like cholera.

Grant hopes that the bills for some of these health care projects will be footed by private interests to take some of the financial burden off of the government, which will already be operating on a tight budget due to increases in education spending. These private interests would be allowed to monetize their training schools and medical centers.

In addition, the NPP hopes for some private sector funding to construct and maintain social housing. By increasing the availability of social housing and improving the enforcement of laws like the ban on collecting rent more than 6 months in advance, the party intends to lighten the burden on aspiring young professionals who need affordable housing while they establish themselves in the professional world.

Grant also expressed a desire for financial cooperation from the private sector in building roads; he offered this solution an alternative to accepting Chinese loans.
 
 
Source: thestatesmanonline
 
 

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