IMANI Expects President-Elect Akufo-Addo To Prioritize These 5 Vital Issues

Following Akufo-Addo’s historic landslide victory over incumbent Mahama, policy think tank IMANI Ghana has released a statement revealing Top 5 Vital Issues the President-Elect Akufo-Addo should prioritize in his imminent regime.

The NPP flagbearer Akufo-Addo, emerged victorious by almost 1 million vote margin after recording 53.85% (5,716,026) of the total votes cast against 44.4% (4,713,277) won by incumbent President Dramani Maham. The later, as well as other opponents have called Akufo-Addo to concede defeat as well as congratulate him on his victory, one that was hard fought to say the least.

Also congratulating Akufo-Addo are world leaders like British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan, US Deputy Department Spokesperson Mark C. Toner among others.

In the written statement, IMANI began by congratulating the new president-elect and the people of Ghana for conducting a violent-free and fair election. The statement’s author, Franklin Cudjoe founder and president of IMANI, went ahead to point out that the Akufo-Addo-led government would have much revenue to their disposal thanks to the forthcoming $7bn ENI gas project and thus vital steps ought to be undertaken in order to avoid past mistakes made by previous governments and therefore ensure economic and social excellence.

He said that the revenue boost would avail the government enough money to “devote to improving basic healthcare, build productive livelihoods through private-sector led job creation, deepen decentralise decision making, pumping water into neighbourhoods and building roads.”

The Top 5 Vital Issues Reads Thus;

1. Risk Analysis on all Government Projects

The presidency should not become the strategic hub for policy planning from a financial and technical point of view. Political accountability resides in the executive, and that is enough. At IMANI we concede that for most strategic projects the requisite expertise may be spread across multiple ministries, departments and agencies. The Cabinet Office can be strengthened and given powers that allow it to coordinate expertise across the civil service.

We have centres of expertise that could be asked to help government create a kind of ‘administrator general’ role in the cabinet to vet all proposed projects. It goes without saying that such a move can only succeed if it follows a strengthening of the Cabinet Office to ensure coordination across the technical, financial and political accountability functions of the executive.

2. Truly Reform the Pension Sector

Potentially, income from pension contributions is more sustainable than oil. For as long as people continue to work, there will continue to be pension contributions. Scheme trustees can invest funds in the private sector, real estate, listed equities and government treasuries. Pension sector reforms planned nearly seven years ago, are only now being implemented and not without problems. Certainly, things can be a little faster.

3. Determine an optimal level of taxation

What level of public spending is desirable for a developing country such as Ghana? Should the government spend one-tenth, one-third or half of the national income? The size of government expenditure is naturally associated with the ideal level of tax revenue.

Taxes are a necessary evil, but a generally accepted view is that they should not be a disincentive for profitable economic activity. In Ghana, however, a lot of industry captains and the labour force complain about the tax rates. The perception in the formal sector is that it bears too much of the tax burden to achieve the government’s revenue targets.

4. Avoid wasteful projects

Even though we all applauded the decision to go biometric in the last two elections, every objective observer knew we have already collected biometric details of citizens for the following purposes: national passports, the e-Zwich payments platform and the national identification system. It has been proposed that we do the same for voters’ ID cards, drivers’ licences and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards. A harmonised system means you may even be able to use one card for multiple systems.

Even ignoring the inconveniences and inefficiencies, the monetary costs of deploying parallel infrastructure is no small matter. Let us assume the cost of the Electoral Commission system is the benchmark. A crude estimate of the total cost is a whopping $400m. We believe we can cut $250m off this figure through harmonisation.

5. Review the single spine salary structure for the civil service and consolidate salaries.

Previous government’s attempt to quadruple the salaries of public sector workers through the single spine salary scheme has been a drawback to strengthening the private sector as an innovator. The single spine scheme may appear to bring relative peace on the labour front, but for how long? Simply, single spine is a diversionary tactic embraced first by the NPP and implemented by the NDC to sidestep critical issues since the structural adjustment period.

After enlisting the above 5 areas of concentration, Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, concluded his statement by specifying that Akufo-Addo’s regime should consolidate salaries for all civil servants in order to curb the substantial amount of the government’s revenue channelled towards paying allowances to middle-top level civil servants for many trivial meetings.

He said “Finally, the new government should consolidate salaries for all civil servants. The government bleeds profusely from allowances paid to middle to top level civil servants for many meetings, mostly needless ones. In 2016 alone, almost half of all funds set aside for wages and compensation, nearly Ghc14bn go into allowances.”

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