Ghanaian renowned Economist and former Director General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has debunks government’s “Year of Roads” agenda.
According to Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, the idea of singling a particular year to develop the roads sector in the country is needless. In making a submission on the Government’s Performance in its first term on “The Bottomline” (an economic-driven current affairs programme on Metro TV) hosted by Emmanuel Kwasi Afriyie, Dr. Thompson likened the singling of a particular year to develop road to the idea of choosing a particular day to clean up or engage in sanitation activities. He said it was needless to designate a particular year to build roads when it should be a continuous business of the government.
“We shouldn’t even be using that slogan at all, it means that we’re not even aware of what development is entailed; Year of Roads, it should be daily issues, that means; everyday our roads are good for motorists, for pedestrians, traffic lights are working, the streets lights are working every day. It is the same problem I have with people who do clean-up campaign at the end of every month, it’s a lot of ‘nonsense. You’re supposed to clean up every day, you don’t live in filth for 29 days and clean up only on the last day” Dr. Thompson said
In 2020, the President in his State of the Nation’s Address announced the government’s plan to prioritize the construction of road infrastructure hence channeling a large proportion of its resources to the Roads and Highway sector of the economy. The Finance Minister subsequently as constitutionally mandated, presented the Budget Statement for 2020 Fiscal year, in that, he also announced government’s plan in execution the “Year of roads” Agenda.
However, the outbreak of COVID could not enable the full implementation of this agenda, hence the need to re-visit it in 2021 as a part of government’s recovery plan out of the impact of the global pandemic.
On the 10th of March 2021, the President again in his first State of the Nation’s Address for his second term announced the year 2021 as “Second Year of Roads” with reiteration from the Caretaker Finance Minister on the 12th of March, 2021 when presenting the 2021 Budget Statement.
However, Dr. Thompson disagrees with the plan and said it is absurd, “You don’t govern and develop like that, a Year of Roads? So what happens to the other three years, Year of Potholes? No! It’s actually flawed, what happened since the elections ended, the Year of Roads has gone.” He said.
Dr. Thompson stressed on the need for constant development on the road infrastructure of the country and that should be done periodically not within a stipulated year, according to him, it does not foster development in the right direction.
However, the former Member of Parliament for Bantama Constituency, Hon. Daniel Okyem Aboagye who was a co-guest on the programme disagreed with Dr. Thompson. According to the former legislator, Dr. Thompson needs to understand the strategy the NPP government used when they assumed power in 2017, he stressed on the state of the nation prior to the government assuming power in 2017, making mention of IMF Programme, Dumsor, etc.
He said the government decision was to fix the social challenges of the country, hence, they decided to introduce more social intervention programmes in order to restore the country to better state.
“We decided that, let’s take measures to provide relief to the people who have been under eight years of NDC’s mess, so what did we do? We expanded School Feeding, we gave NABCO, we restored teacher and nursing trainee allowances; all in our attempt to ease the burden of living. For businesses, we had to even abolish 17 taxes; all these were meant to provide relief – So we did this from a strategic point of view” He rebutted. He further stated that, after they have implemented the social interventions, they decided to focus more on infrastructure hence declaring the Year of Roads.
Dr. Thompson, however argued that, in as much as the government focused on social interventions the more, it was causing a deficiency on the infrastructure sector of the economy and that has caused some damages to the economy.
Dr. Nii Moi Thompson is well known for his 40-Year Development Plan for Ghana during the John Mahama led administration when he served as Director General for the NDPC.
TheEEA/Accra City Times
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