Churches Call For Action Now!

Rt Rev. Professor Emmanuel K. Martey
The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) and the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) have called on the government to act swiftly to deal with challenges associated with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the energy crisis.

They noted that the challenges associated with the NHIS and the frustration among both hospital staff and patients were unbearable, while the current energy crisis was seriously affecting the overall economy of the country.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the President of the GCBC, the Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, and the Chairman of the CCG, the Rt Rev. Professor Emmanuel K. Martey, and issued at the end of their May 2015 Annual Joint Meeting at Osu in Accra yesterday.

It said the government must tell Ghanaians about the true state of the NHIS and also provide a clear road map on its sustainability or otherwise.

‘The continued and repeated failure to reimburse facilities on time, the incessant threats of service withdrawal by service providers, among others, continue to plague the scheme. Our health facilities are collapsing under the scheme and the frustration of both staff and patients is unbearable,’ the statement said. 

It said the churches were ready to lead a broad stakeholder consultation process on the issue, pointing out that ‘we are very concerned about the sustainability of the scheme if the current difficulties with it are not resolved expeditiously’. 

‘Our institutions pioneered health insurance schemes in the country before they were adopted as a national policy,’ it said.

The statement said the current unfortunate situation of dumsor was seriously affecting the overall economy of the country. 

It said industries, businesses and other social and economic activities were dying off gradually and systematically and that in spite of the government’s promises and actions to ameliorate the situation, for close to three years there had been no improvement.

It, therefore, condemned what it called ‘the lack of serious practical short-term solutions to the crisis’.

Ghana’s economy
The statement called on the government to do all it could to save the Ghanaian economy from its current unstable and precarious state. 

It stressed the need for the government to revisit both the spirit and agenda of the Senchi Consensus which made concrete proposals to solve Ghana’s economic woes. 

‘We wish to know whether it has been abandoned due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package or it has been incorporated into it. We also pray that government will listen to the calls of individuals and groups, including religious bodies, for the development of a long-term national development plan for our country and initiate the process to develop one that will be respected and implemented by successive governments,’ it added. 

Constitution review process  
The statement called on the government to provide the status of the Constitution Review process, as it appeared stalled, while there was also no feedback from the government to Ghanaians on ‘plans to either continue or discontinue the process’. 

It said they were aware of the case pending before the Supreme Court but ‘we will be glad to receive information on how the process will be carried forward in the aftermath of this case, so that we can all participate actively and fully in the process’. 

District level elections and 2016 general election 

On the suspended district level elections, it asked the Electoral Commission (EC) to begin the process of engagement with all stakeholders on the way forward for the elections. 

‘Pertinent issues such as the voters register, biometric verification, the creation of constituencies, among others, need to be addressed now. Related critical issues include the needed reforms to Ghana’s electoral system as per the various recommendations and the early and transparent appointment of a new Chairman of the EC,’ it said, adding, ‘The year 2016 may seem far but it is not. Thus, we appeal to the EC to act expeditiously.’  

Petroleum exploration and revenue management
The statement said they were hopeful that proposals for the amendment of the current Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) would be considered in the light of the good of Ghana, so that Ghana and its citizens would be the greatest beneficiaries of the oil and gas find. 

It said they welcomed the government’s efforts to introduce appropriate legislation to address current challenges of petroleum exploration and production and called for an open and inclusive process with relevant stakeholders to achieve a good law. 

‘We are also unhappy about the funding arrangements made for the oversight responsibility of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) which has remained a big challenge for some time now and call on the government and corporate Ghana to help address this difficulty,’ it said.

Church-State partnership in education
The statement said it was unfair and objectionable for the government to ignore religious and other bodies who were major stakeholders in education service delivery in Ghana. 

It, therefore, called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, hasten the signing of the Education Partnership document and put in place the necessary structures and systems to ensure that it worked and was respected by all.

It explained that over the years, religious and other bodies with schools had partnered the state in education service delivery which had ensured easy access, academic excellence and holistic moral upbringing of students in schools. 

‘Unfortunately, the absence of any document to guide this partnership over the years has led to the gradual and systematic weakening of our stake in education delivery, evident in the lack of collaboration with our educational managers, the withdrawal of their stipends and the general frustration of their work by some officials of the Ghana Education Service,’ it noted. 

Commends Chief Imam
It noted with sadness and grief the systematic and persistent persecution and murder of Christians on the African continent and elsewhere in the world by Islamist terrorist groups, condemned those atrocities and called on all Ghanaians to pray for an end to those senseless killings. 

It commended the National Chief Imam, Sheik Dr Usumanu Nuhu Sharubutu, for his appeal to Imams and leaders of Muslim communities in Ghana to caution members of their congregations against the possible penetration of ideological influence of extremist groups. 

‘In particular, we commend him for his appeal to Imams to use their sermons to encourage members of their congregations to be watchful to identify and expose foreigners who may infiltrate the communities with signs of connection with extremists groups such as Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, among other groups. 

‘As Ghanaians, we must continue to live in peace and harmony with one another and eschew all acts and tendencies that may bring ethnic, religious or political conflicts to Ghana,’ it said.

Source: Daily Graphic

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