The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has said economic difficulties under the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) are man-made.
According to him, the government was moving from one crisis to another, and that all those crises were man-made and self-inflicted.
Mr Nketia expressed these sentiments in an interview with the Daily Graphic on matters regarding the affairs of state and governance in general.
Mr Asiedu Nketia identified one of the crises as corruption, saying the current government had graduated corruption from a level of pettiness to a grand status.
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“We are not talking about petty corruption again as was happening under Mahama’s administration. We are talking about grand corruption or state capture,” he maintained.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP), in the view of Mr Asiedu Nketia, made a lot of ‘noise’ about the bus branding which cost less than US$1 million but under the current administration, all the scandals taking place involved monies in billions, ranging from the Eurobond of US$2.5 billion, the National Identification Authority (NIA) scandal of more than US$1.2 billion and the Ameri deal which was in excess of US$1 billion.
“So corruption in Ghana now is in billions of dollars,” he insisted.
On the educational front, Mr Asiedu Nketia said the crisis in the educational sector was totally man-made, adding that the government had just created the crisis which was leading to the re-introduction of the ‘shift system’ which was abolished by the NDC from the country’s basic schools.
Alerted to the fact that it was a double track system, he maintained that it was a shift system, adding humorously that “you can call a rose flower by whatever name but it still smells very sweet.”
He said the government was now introducing the worst form of the shift system in the senior high school (SHS).
“This is needless because we recognised that if you are introducing free SHS, you would need more classrooms to accommodate everybody, so we started constructing 200 new E-blocks to prepare for the free SHS. At the time we were leaving, we had completed about 50 of them and 70 others were at various stages of completion, mostly beyond 70 per cent of completion,” he declared.
He maintained that if the government had not cut off the funding, by now they would have finished all the 200 secondary schools and there would be no need for a shift system.
“But what did they do? They decided to cut the funding for the construction projects from GH¢1.8 billion to GH¢900 million and took the rest into the main budget,” he related.
Explaining further, he said, with the GH¢900 million too, they split it and used GH¢450 million to pay teacher trainee allowances leaving no money to continue the E-blocks.
“One E-block costs GH¢5 million so the GH¢450 million could have provided 90 E-blocks. So it was sufficient to have completed all the 200 E-blocks. But you want politicians to clap for you so you take that money to go and pay teachers under training,” he added.
Mr Asiedu Nketia recounted that he had warned the government about the ramifications of its action, and that there was nothing without costs.
“The cost of paying the trainee allowance is the shift system. The opportunity cost of paying teacher trainee allowances is the introduction of the shift system,” he contended.
Mr Asiedu Nketia wondered why the flagship programme of the government was the free SHS and yet that was where money was being taken away from, asking why the government would establish priorities and de-invest from the priority areas.
The crisis in the health sector, he said, was also created by the government. He stated that instead of using the budget of the health sector to at least open the several hospitals that had been built and were standing idle, the government chose to use that money to pay trainee nurses.
“You say you don’t have money to open them and yet you have money to pay nurses under training. When they finish, where are they going to work?” he quizzed.
For Mr Asiedu Nketia, it was not a wise decision to be paying trainee nurses while people were sick and struggling for hospital beds.
“Is that the thing a leader should be doing? It’s just establishment of priorities.
All their priorities are wrong so even if they remain in power for thousand years, it will not make their priorities right.
If you choose the wrong road and route, it does not matter how long you remain on that road, you cannot reach the right destination,” he remarked.