The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has listed some things he expects from the Akufo-Addo-led government in 2022.
Mr Ablakwa said he expects that in the New Year, President Akufo-Addo would listen to the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians, including experts, civil society organisations, religious bodies and political parties “who are all legitimately demanding that he jettisons the obnoxious and highly inflammable E-Levy”.
Mr Ablakwa is suggesting that the government should in place of the “insensitive E-Levy” pursue vigorous expenditure cuts.
He wants the government to slash the GHS3.1billion allocation to the Office of Government Machinery (OGM), drastically reduce the near GHS1billion set aside as Contingency Vote, suspend projects such as the new Accra International Conference Centre estimated at €116 million, put on ice the proposed five STEM universities, drop the Abuakwa Standard Stadium, Regional Art Theatres, New Embassies, Boankra Green Technology City and Tourism Village, among others.
The North Tongu lawmaker, in a Facebook post, noted that President Akufo-Addo must desist from the “obstinate charter of ultra-luxury US14,000 an hour executive jets and make good use of our Presidential Jet which remains in pristine condition. He should return the LX-DIO to its operators – Global Jet Luxembourg”.
He also wants President Akufo-Addo to, in the interest of transparency, accountability and respect for Ghanaians, disclose the full cost of his air travels as “his continuous unjustifiable concealment will only trigger further action from our end”.
Mr Ablakwa also said youth unemployment is robbing the dignity of the youth and YouStart cannot be the panacea.
A quick fix, he noted, will be to fill the thousands of job vacancies currently available in numerous departments from teaching, planning, nursing, policing, immigration, fire service, armed forces, sanitation, local government among others.
“Proceeds from the expenditure cuts I advocate can be used to pay these new employees,” he suggested.
Mr Ablakwa further proposed that the government should pay contractors so they can expand their staff strength and stop the layoffs, adding that incentives to private sector employers who engage fresh graduates will offer the youth better opportunities than the “moribund” YouStart.
The other expectations of the lawmaker include the following:
1) President Akufo-Addo should commission a special independent audit into all COVID-19 related expenditure, failing which Parliament should take up the responsibility;
2) President Akufo-Addo needs to, first of all, accept that corruption has defeated his administration and that an urgent, honest, new strategy is required to save this country the billions of dollars going into a few illegitimate pockets. President Akufo-Addo can begin with immediate retrievals from corrupt officials and institutions as contained in recent reports of the Auditor-General. This is another potent alternative to the E-Levy — simply retrieve and block the loopholes.
3) President Akufo-Addo must fix the leadership vacuum at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection — that should be one of Ghana's most important ministries considering the alarming levels of social vulnerabilities, weak social safety nets, and poverty;
4) Government must in this month of January redeem its long outstanding obligations to NABCO trainees, national service personnel, teacher trainees, nursing trainees, frontline healthcare workers and newly recruited workers. In addition, the 4% wage increases across the board for 2021 must be honoured. Arrears to thousands of workers especially teachers is most repugnant. Government must foster better labour relations with organized labour and show them more respect and empathy;
5) President Akufo-Addo must open all our land borders with immediate effect. This aberration has regrettably earned for our President, a duplicitous reputation as ECOWAS Chairman.
6) Enough of the Frontiers Healthcare Services extortion at the Kotoka International Airport. If the exorbitant US$50 and US$150 for antigen tests aren't drastically revised downwards by February, we shall announce a series of resistance actions.
7) Government must launch a full-scale independent scientific enquiry into the credibility of Ghana's COVID-19 testing regime. We are receiving unnerving reports from diplomatic corridors and from passenger airline operators about a high incidence of suspected dubious test results;
8) Ghanaians love our football — this is an AFCON and World Cup year. It is not too late for Government to fashion out the right policy climate and galvanize needed patriotic attitudes as our national football team goes in search of glory. It is also imperative to see a deliberate, creative effort to whip up national support for the Black Stars. COVID-19 constraints would mean that unlike the past, not many supporters can accompany the team to Cameroon and Qatar, however, working with the private sector, we can create safe, therapeutic, outdoor carnival experiences here in Ghana for our citizens who have been under so much stress.
9) President Akufo-Addo should muster the courage to dismiss all his errant Ministers who instead of concentrating on their ministerial responsibilities are busy campaigning to be NPP Flagbearer. The flurry of Christmas and New Year bulk messages and proliferation of billboards all over the country is adequate evidence that the aspirants already consider President Akufo-Addo a lame duck and are unprepared to heed his caution. Sadly, Vice President Bawumia has offered no exemplary conduct which could have helped restrain ambitious Ministers.
An economy in crisis requires a governmental team that is focused and gives its rescue mission total and undivided attention.
10) Legislature-Executive relations must improve this year. The old power-intoxicated rancorous order must give way to honest sincere consensus building on the issues that matter to Ghanaians. It is clear to me that President Akufo-Addo must stop the abdication and dereliction as ultimate leader of government business. It should now be clear to the President that the posture of belligerence and intransigence is exceedingly unhelpful and destructive in a hung parliament. Hopefully, true leadership, listening to the people, fidelity to our laws, accommodating dissenting views, and genuine patriotism shall hold sway and prevent the parliamentary brawls of 2021.