The government, has rejected the Afrobarometer report on Ghana, which stated that 76 percent of Ghanaians blame government for failing to improve their living standards.
The report prepared by the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), sampled the views of 2,400 citizens about their economic and living conditions, stated that one in 10 Ghanaians were pessimistic about the country’s economic prospects for 2015.
CDD-Ghana, which the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) once severed ties with, when it was in opposition, is owned by Prof. Emmanuel Gyimah Boadi, who coincidentally is serving in the John Mahama government as Chairman of the Ghana National Council for People with Disabilities (GNPWD).
The NDC, had cut ties with the CDD, because at the time it said the foreign-founded policy think tank sees nothing good in the party and was too obsessed with the bidding of the then ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The government has, however, rubbished the report, saying that the sample size of the respondents is not proportional to the population of Ghanaians.
Key findings of the Afrobarometer report are that, large majority of Ghanaians gave ratings of “fairly bad” or “very bad” to government’s performance in managing key macro-economic indicators, such as the economy (72%), improving living standards of the poor (76%), creating jobs (76%), keeping prices down (81%), and narrowing gaps between the rich and poor (76%).
Also, Ghanaians considered economic management (18%) as the most important problem that they want government to address. This is followed by education and electricity (12% each) and health (10%).
Additionally, Two-thirds (66%) of Ghanaians has said that the government was managing their topmost priority (i.e.the first most important problem) “fairly badly” or “very badly” (Figure 2).
Furthermore “an overwhelming majority of Ghanaians (82%) say the country is moving in the “wrong direction,” compared to 57% who thought so in 2012
But according to the Deputy Communications Minister, Felix Kwakye-Ofosu, the fact that 750 people out of the 2,400 respondents, were selected from the Ashanti and Eastern regions, compromises the political objectivity of the findings.
Mr. Kwakye-Ofosu, also noted that the survey was conducted at a time when the country was facing severe economic conditions which may not be prevalent in the country currently.
The report was released as the country’s economy appears to be showing signs of recovery after it struggled for most of the year prompting demonstrations and industrial actions from various organisations and groups.
The cedi, is also beginning to stabilise after depreciating by as much as 40 percent during the year and is appreciating against the major international currencies.
Meanwhile, on the corridors of power, the argument is that “While government values feedback and respects public opinion and endeavours to incorporate same into policy formulation and refinement, there are serious flaws in this report which need to be pointed out”.
This is because “A sample size of 2400 people is hardly representative of 25 million Ghanaians. The findings of such a survey cannot be said to represent the views of all Ghanaians.
Secondly, “An analysis of the methodology of the survey shows that more than a third (31%) of all respondents were drawn from just two regions; the Ashanti and Eastern Regions, which happen to be the strong holds of the NPP”.
The nature of our politics and the demographics of these regions, make it highly unlikely that the responses from these two regions were not influenced by long-standing anti-NDC sentiments. Most importantly 31 per cent for two regions out of ten, is an inordinately unbalanced figure which further casts doubts about the representativeness of the survey.
Thirdly, “given the period within which the poll was conducted(between May and June) and the fact that it was around that time that the Cedi had depreciated significantly against major international trading currencies with its concomitant effects on the prices of goods and services it is not surprising that respondents will hold such views. The situation, however, is remarkably different today especially as the Cedi has appreciated by close to 20% against some major trading currencies. This represents the biggest appreciation of the cedi in 20years and has resulted in a reduction in the price of cement by GHACEM and Dangote as well as a reduction in petroleum prices. It is unlikely therefore that similar results would be recorded if a poll was conducted today, the flaws in the sampling notwithstanding”.
Fourthly, “The poll also failed to take into account numerous initiatives implemented by government to strengthen the economy through an aggressive import substitution program with a strong emphasis on job creation. Such initiatives as the Kumasi shoe factory, the Komenda sugar factory, the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant, the one million broiler project, the Youth Enterprise Support, EDAIF assistance to the Pharmaceutical Industry(GH50 Million ),the expansion of the Takoradi and Tema Port just to mention a few were not factored in the report. All these initiatives are designed to enhance economic growth and will result in the creation of thousands of jobs”.
Finally, the assertion that the country is moving in the wrong direction cannot be founded on fact. Government over the last two years has made huge social investments in education, health, water provision, roads, housing etc. For instance, while just about 54% of Ghanaians had access to potable water five years ago, currently 67% have access to potable water. This figure will improve to a whopping 85% by the end of next year when major water projects are completed. A country that makes this sort of improvements cannot be said to be retrogressing as the report claims.