Clergy Cries Over Poor Economy

Rt. Rev. Prof. Emmanuel K. Martey
The Christian Council and the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference have expressed grave concern about the happenings in the country, especially the poor management of the economy.

‘We have received with surprise news that Ghana faces a real and serious risk of falling into the league of High Debt Distress Countries (HDDC) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the basis of Ghana’s excessive borrowing and indebtedness which is estimated to be about GH¢76 billion as at December last year,’ the men of God decried.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, President, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Rt. Rev. Prof. Emmanuel K. Martey, Chairman, Christian Council of Ghana, after their 2015 Annual Joint Meeting.

They said, ‘We believe this is a cause for worry, considering the fact that we came out of HIPC not too long ago. We call on the Government to do all it can to save the economy of our country from its current unstable and precarious state.’

Where Is Senchi Consensus?
According to them, there was the need ‘to revisit both the spirit and agenda of the Senchi Consensus which made concrete proposals to solve Ghana’s economic woes,’ and probed, ‘We wish to know whether it has been abandoned due to the IMF bailout package or it has been incorporated into it.’

They prayed that the 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.’

NHIS Collapsing
They expressed, ‘with worry and anxiety’ all the happenings about the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and stated that ‘We are very concerned about the sustainability of the scheme if the current difficulties with it are not resolved expeditiously.’

According to the religious leaders, ‘The continuous 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.

‘We invite the government as a matter of urgency, to come out to inform the citizenry about the true state of the Scheme and give us a clear roadmap for its sustainability or otherwise. We will equally appreciate a broad stakeholder consultation on the issue and we are ready to lead the process. Our institutions pioneered health insurance schemes in the country before it was adopted as a national policy.’

Dumsor Dynamics
They said in spite of the government’s promises and actions to solve the electricity crisis, there had not been any improvement for the past three years.

‘We vehemently condemn the lack of serious practical short-term solutions to the crisis. Things are really hard for the productivity sector and waiting for too long will not do us any good,’ they observed.

Partnership In Education
The clergy reiterated the church’s readiness to strengthen the government-church partnership in providing quality education in schools lamenting, ‘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.’

DA And 2016 Elections
They sought to know what plans were being put in place for the suspended district assembly (DA) elections as well as the road map for Ghana’s general elections in 2016. ‘We propose that the Electoral Commission should begin in earnest the process of engagement with all stakeholders on the way forward for these elections,’ the religious leaders admonished.

‘Pertinent issues such as the Voters’ Register, biometric verification, 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 Electoral Commission,’ the statement posited.

The clergy also touched on the constitutional review exercise and said the process ‘appeared stalled’ and also expressed their unhappiness about the funding arrangements made for the oversight responsibility of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) which they said had remained a challenge for some time.

They also condemned the persistent persecution of Christians worldwide and appeal to the youth not to embark on perilous journeys to seek ‘greener pastures’ in Europe.

By William Yaw Owusu

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