Christian Council Admonishes Ghanaians To Be Non-Partisan

The Christian Council of Ghana has called for an end to the partisan approach adopted when solutions are being sought to challenges confronting the country’s development. It said that the recent surge in unemployment, depreciation of the cedi and road accidents in the country, could be reversed if the issues were discussed in a bipartisan manner. The council also described as worrying the spate of corruption, pollution of water bodies and labour unrest in the country. In a communiqué issued on national issues in Accra, the council commended the government for tasking the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to ensure the refund of money wrongfully paid to some individuals and companies. It said the moneys were wrongly paid as a result of contracts given by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), as well as those wrongly paid to Waterville and Isofoton. The council, however, requested the government to make its plans to retrieve the money public. It also requested the government to investigate the misappropriation of over GH¢2 billion by public officials, as indicated in the 2012 Auditor General’s Report and prosecute culprits accordingly. It also said the government should be commended for abolishing the policy that allowed public officers to purchase state bungalows and vehicles allocated to them. Merchant Bank sale According to the council, the government, together with Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), must provide adequate information on the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Equity Fund. It advised all political parties, especially the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to stop the partisan manner in which they discussed the Merchant Bank sale in order “to help the ordinary Ghanaian appreciate the real issues about the sale”. The council also called on the government and SSNIT to explain to the public why the deal offered by Fortiz Private Equity Fund was better than that of First Rand and the other applicants. State of the economy According to the Christian Council, the current economic situation was making it difficult for businesses to thrive, thereby increasing unemployment and the poverty levels of Ghanaians. The council advised the Bank of Ghana, as a matter of urgency, to take the necessary steps to reverse the depreciation of the cedi against the major trading currencies such as the dollar. It also urged the government to develop the necessary strategies to manage the nation’s resources prudently and avoid budget deficits. Tobinco Pharmacy and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) The council commended the Ministry of Health and Parliamentary Select Committee on Health for their intervention in the Tobinco-Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) saga. Regulatory authorities, according to the council, must ensure that they applied the necessary sanctions objectively to any entity that operated contrary to their regulations. The council also called for the hastening of efforts to solve the impasse, in order to stem the dwindling fortunes of Tobinco Pharmacy, adding that the FDA must rather use its offices to promote Tobinco and other related companies to make them more viable to be able to compete with those in other parts of the world. Electoral reforms The council underscored the need for the Electoral Commission (EC) to work closely with political parties, civil society organisations and religious bodies to undertake the necessary electoral reforms. The EC was also advised to prepare the voters register on time to give political parties and other stakeholders the needed time to prepare for the next elections, and also develop a “more structured and systemic recruitment and training of election officials.” Education Furthermore, the council advised the government to ensure that intelligent students with disabilities were given preferential treatment during admissions to the junior high schools (JHSs), senior high schools (SHSs) and tertiary institutions. It also urged the government to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure the successful construction of the 200 senior high schools it promised in the run-up to the 2012 general election. Health The council again urged the government to ensure that the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning paid the arrears owed the health service providers to prevent the withdrawal of their services. “That the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), as it is conceived presently, should be re-designed to cover diseases whose costs are prohibitive and for which insurance is necessary”. Environmental sustainability The communique advised traditional leaders to work together with the government to flush out illegal miners whose activities continued to cause destruction to water bodies and farmlands. The council also advised the various municipal, metropolitan and district assemblies to collaborate with the Environmental Protection Agency to preserve the environment. New Year message In its New Year’s message, the council affirmed its commitment to support and assist the government in developing the country. It also expressed its belief and hope in God to make 2014 a better year.