Presbyterian Church expresses concern about state of country
The Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) has expressed deep concerns about the current state of the nation, saying recent events have left many citizens feeling disappointed and disheartened.
“The PCG recognises the government’s attempts to address these challenges, and commends it for its tireless efforts.
However, we observe that much work is still needed to achieve a full recovery, and respectfully draw the attention of government to some pressing issues,” the church said in a communique issued at the end of its 23rd General Assembly.
The August 9 – 20 General Assembly discussed internal issues of the church and the country, and also elected a new Moderator.
The event, with the theme: "Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega", based on the Biblical verse in Revelation 21:6, was a call to all to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and spread the gospel through words and actions.
The communique pointed out that the citizenry had very high hopes when the government assumed office, believing that it would safeguard public funds, revive the economy, and steer the country towards a brighter future.
It said the church had occasion to applaud the government for excellent beginnings.
However, while acknowledging that some of the challenges facing the country were due to external factors, it said: “Internal conditions have made it easier for these external factors to cause much devastation”.
The General Assembly also touched on and made suggestions on a number of socio economic issues, including revenue generation, fighting corruption, the domestic debt exchange programme (DDEP), unemployment, security, peace and safety.
The communique, which was read by the outgoing Moderator of the church, Rt Rev. Prof. J.O.Y. Mante, urged the managers of the country's economy to at all times utilise funds prudently and ensure transparency and accountability to address any deficits in the economy.
It said the PCG was concerned about what appeared to be the country’s overdependence on domestic and external loans to finance its budget deficits, and urged the government to take measures to address the deficit, stressing that the current high interest rate made it impossible for Ghanaian businesses to operate at optimum level.
It said revenue mobilisation was vital in the country's developmental agenda and that government needed a well integrated approach to get everyone on board, especially those in the informal sectors of the economy.
The church said there was the need for government to widen the tax net to bring everyone into it to contribute to the nation’s development and pledged to be tax compliant and educate its congregants to continue to be responsible citizens to fulfil their tax obligations.
The communique said the church was concerned about the shortfall in revenue collection and was even more concerned about the danger that corruption posed to the country’s present and future generations.
It said the Auditor General’s reports detailing alarming cases of financial infractions and irregularities by state institutions each year were worrying.
The church, it said, was also concerned about the apparent lack of punishment for people implicated in corruption, excessive use of single-source procurement and the inexistent legislation on conflict of interest for public officers.
It said it was essential to strengthen systems of probity and accountability to track and bring corrupt officials and workers to justice in a non-partisan approach.
The PCG said it had taken note of the plans presented by the government to ameliorate the impact of the DDEP, and advised the country's political and economic decision-makers to be mindful of the tolerance level and patience of the people, especially the youth.
He emphasised that in the shortest possible time, those whose funds were on hold should have their moneys returned to them as soon as practicable.
Practical wisdom, innovation and creativity, the church said, would be necessary to help the citizens to cope with the potential disruptions and hardships arising from the programme.
The PCG called on the government to exhibit sacrificial and exemplary leadership, and transparent and disciplined financial management marked by probity and accountability to regain the people’s confidence and cooperation as the nation worked together towards rebuilding a better Ghana.
It said the church’s Peace Project, implemented in the 19 Presbyteries in Ghana, identified unemployment as being directly correlated with insecurity, and said it was a matter that needed to be critically addressed.
It, therefore, called on the government to partner churches, para-church organisations and other stakeholders with varied entrepreneurship experiences to augment the efforts to reduce unemployment and find a permanent solution.
It said the church had launched the Rising Young Presbyterian Entrepreneurs project and was ready to partner the government to address unemployment.
Security, illegal mining
The communique said the increasing reports about terrorist attacks in neighbouring countries, the shocking return of military rule and the ease of access to sophisticated weapons by violent criminal gangs did not augur well for Ghanaians' general sense of safety and security.
It, however, said the government’s effort to improve police visibility in the country was highly commendable.
The PCG called on the government to take note of the need for adequate training of the police, military and personnel of the other security services to ensure sustenance and improvement in resourcing the police, military and other security agencies.
Working with all parties, it said, would help to address the conflict in Bawku and other places for permanent resolution.
"The National Security should continue to keep up their efforts to make Ghanaians security conscious as exemplified in the ‘See Something, Say Something campaign,” it added.
The PCG called on Ghanaians to be good stewards of the environment and to eschew all harmful activities, including illegal mining, indiscriminate waste disposal and destruction of the environment.
It said it was baffled that there was total disregard for the President’s commitment to protecting the environment as referenced from a report by a former minister, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, which detailed how the ruling party’s officials from the national to the unit committee level had their friends, agents, relatives, financiers and others engaged in illegal mining.