A policy that was never featured in the New Patriotic Party (NPP)’s manifesto for the 2020elections has suddenly been unveiled by President Akufo-Addo, and it is suspiciously similar to the “Big Push”, a policy captured in the 2020 manifesto of ex-President John Dramani Mahama.
Mr. Akufo-Addo unveiled the GHC 100 billion “Ghana CARES Obatanpa” program at the 2021 State Of The Nation Address (SONA).
“(the COVID-19) pandemic has exposed the need to expedite the process of moving Ghana to a situation beyond aid. That is why Government has developed and is currently implementing the one hundred-billion-cedi (GH¢100 billion) Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ Programme to transform, revitalize and modernize our economy, and return it to high and sustained growth for the next three years,” President Akufo Addo stated.
According to critics from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which has John Mahama as its leader, the CARE programme is a watered-down version of Mr. Mahama’s ambitious US$10billion “Big Push” programme.
“The Big Push will invest $10 billion in our nation’s infrastructure over five years, transforming our economy and creating jobs for our youth,” Mr. Mahama had often explained.
As a central idea to the NDC’s manifesto, the Big Push had been a huge selling point along with other practical policies like free primary healthcare and the legalization of commercial motorcycle business.
According to the President, “The key projects under the CARES Programme include: supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into commercial farming; building the country’s light manufacturing sector; developing engineering/machine tools and ICT/digital economy industries; Fast-tracking digitalisation; AND developing Ghana’s housing & construction industry.”
Also he said the focus will include establishing Ghana as a Regional Hub; reviewing and optimising the implementation of Government flagships and key programmes; and creating jobs for young people, and expanding opportunities for the vulnerable in society, including persons with disabilities.
“The medium-term outlook supported by the implementation of the Ghana CARES Programme is bright. We are confident that, together, we will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with a stronger and more resilient economy,” Akufo-Addo said.
Meanwhile, Dean of the University of Cape Coast Business School, Prof. John Gatsi, is taking the President’s CARE promise with a pinch of salt.
He asks where the money is going to come from and also what has happened to earlier grandiloquent promises made by the President.
“We were even told that the hospital projects were going to start last year August but here we are 2021 and I am not sure if any of the projects have started,” Gatsi noted.
“…A country with a heavy cloud of corruption, huge debts with interest burden and inequity of social supports, cannot give any periodic accounts without including these. When SONA becomes promise driven the essence of SONA is belittled,” charged Gatsi.