Minority & IMANI Reveal
The Minority in Parliament and Policy think tank, IMANI Ghana, have separately criticized the Akufo-Addo government over what they suspect is an attempt to create another National Service Scheme called, the Nation Builders Corps (NBC).
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, presenting the 2018 budget statement in Parliament last Wednesday, announced that the NBC policy, would give jobs to 100,000 graduates by the close of 2018, but the Minority and IMANI Ghana, believe that the move is rather a waste of scarce national resource.
IMANI Ghana, had in its assessment of the 2018 budget statement, described the NBC as a “reflection of policy incoherence, and a myopic approach to solving the graduate unemployment challenge.”
The minority ahead of the budget debate insists that the Nation Builders Corps programme, which intends to employ some 100,000 graduates next year, is an extension of the National Service Scheme, which will deny the District Assemblies funds, this was according to the Minority spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson.
“Mr. Speaker, the said graduates will not take home more than GH¢400, this is dangerous. Mr. Speaker that GH¢600,000 they intend to fund the programme with, is not coming from the government of Ghana. It is going to be taken from the district assembly common fund. You’re going to constrain the district assemblies just for the purpose of funding it. This, in my opinion, is an extension of the national service scheme,” he said.
During his maiden debate on the 2018 budget in the House, yesterday, he called on government to withdraw the 2018 budget statement presented to Parliament, saying the government only revised the 2017 budget without Parliamentary approval, hence the need for its withdrawal of the 2018 document, which contains portions of the previous one.
On their part, Policy think tank, IMANI Ghana, is of the view that government’s decision to set up what it calls a Nation Builders Corps (NBC), which seeks to employ over 100,000 graduates with a budgetary allocation of Ghc600 million, is just a duplication of the mandate of the NSS.
According to the think tank, although the mode of financing the programme, has not yet been put out, the GHc600 million set aside to pay wages of graduates who would be captured under the NBC is too much and a “waste of money.”
President of IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, in an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show yesterday, said the amount can be pumped into the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NIEP) or better still the agricultural sector.
“We are yet to see the details of the financing arrangement, but what we’ve seen so far unfortunately may be going to a lot of sectors that have been in existence long ago. It means that if people are going to employed to be taking care of our healthcare institutions, I don’t know if they will be doing extensive services in education because that has also been mentioned and revenue generation which have all not been clearly defined. It appears to us that these are not necessarily different from what the national service really does.”
“So in a way, we were thinking that to spend a hefty sum of almost GHc600 million to create jobs that are transient jobs basically, and not necessarily adding to the productive capabilities of the country, looks as if it is a waste of money,” Mr. Cudjoe added.
IMANI’s President, also explained that, his team believes the NBC budgetary allocation, could have been used to support the NEIP, saying “we think that is about the most truly entrepreneurial entity, I mean let’s do something and get money and get out of the way.”
“We would have thought that the GHc60 million that went to NEIP could have seen some complementarity with this nation builders corps. Truly if it were to be entrepreneurial, it also means it has to be competitive. Unfortunately, these funds that will be used as payment for graduates who will be employed in these sectors are not going to be competitively sought for, and we feel that is not truly entrepreneurial,” he added.
“The focus of the 2018 budget is to revamp agriculture for food sustainability and feeding the numerous factories to be established under the 1-district-1-factory policy. Interestingly, the amount allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture, which is annually inadequate, was cut by 21 percent. The decrease is likely to affect productivity outcomes in the sector. However, the elephant in the room is the ageing cocoa and food crop farmers and the low interest of the youth to venture into agriculture. One would have thought a policy to engage graduates across the country would centre on finding innovative solutions to encourage graduates into agriculture,” the think tank said in its report.