Dr Joe Abbey
Dr Joe Abbey, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), has called on government to be eagle-eyed to ensure that resources that are meant for the development of the country and its human resources are not lost to corruption and ineffective supervision.
Speaking to BUSINESS GUIDE in an interview Wednesday, the policy analyst said the era when people who were put in charge of critical governance positions squandered state resources with impunity should not be re-entertained.
“If we can bring in all the expenditures that were just leaking out and crowding out other higher priority expenditures, we would be able to meet what our priorities are without necessarily having to raise taxes even though it may not be a bad idea to mobilise our efforts to domestic revenue mobilization.”
Inherited economic situation
Commenting on the foregoing, he noted: “I don’t think there was any denying that it was really a bad state of affairs. And given the size of the debt and even when we have through the GDP reduced the debt ratio, the fact that even at 68, it is just too high. It is way above the average or median for our group of countries.
“So, yes we have made some progress but, it is still high and then the cost of borrowing is also still high, and the interest payment on the public debt stands only second to the wage bill; and the gap between the wage bill and the interest payment bill is narrowing. So we could be in danger if we do not manage to generate jobs outside of the public sector.
“The wage bill could begin to take second place to interest payments on the domestic debt, which is more than the second option – GDP. Now this is something that should worry us.”
Dr Abbey revealed that the debt situation and the cost of borrowing should warn the country that that is not an option it should exercise freely.
“People must be accountable for all the resources that have been given to them. If we look at what the Auditor General is telling us that sometimes payments have been made without the records being put straight. So that could happen in our Senior High School (SHSs). So I will like the president to go on with all his good programmes but one thing he cannot go back on is to improve the facilities in our SHS, improve the environment for teaching and learning.
“I will like to see whatever resources we have whether from oil, or improved revenue mobilization, whatever we can do reprioritizing, capping and realignment. It may have been a big start. However, you may find therefore that the decentralization process. If you now begin to touch some of these things, of course we are exempt, the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF). But if you don’t collect revenues, then it means that instead of making sure that the decentralization will be effective, they are also looking for resources. So you may find that we need to put more resources into the District Assemblies Common Fund but make sure that their accounts are also audited and any malpractices are dealt with.”
Weak knowledge of GES
On this he noted: “I am really surprised as a policy analyst about what seems to be the weakness in the knowledge of the GES about the state of play of our senior high schools. Because if we are now being told that there are schools with no facilities for easing themselves, that people take free range, etc. These are basic schools without either classroom blocks, or dormitories and that students about 14 year old are going out to rent accommodation for themselves. Some of these may be exaggeration but I would have liked to hear the Ghana Education Service telling the state of affairs of our senior high schools. Because if you are going to pay for it, it better be good quality education. What’s the point in free chunk?”
“Therefore, I will like to see the president commit to making sure that the Free SHS programme is successful. The arguments should stop.”
By Samuel Boadi