The New Patriotic Party (NPP) in a press conference this Monday responded to the recently launched 2016 manifesto of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) party. The party’s campaign Policy Advisor, Boakye Agyarko addressed the press conference which was dubbed, “Promises Made, Promises Broken”. Four claims in this address were fact-checked. Out of this number, two were found to be completely false, one claim was found to be entirely true and the last, half true. The full details are presented below.
- CLAIM: According to their manifesto: “Twelve million five hundred thousand (12.5million) English, Mathematics and Science textbooks were distributed to public basic schools between 2013 and 2015. This enabled Ghana to exceed the universal textbook-pupil ratio of three textbooks to one pupil.” We note, however, that the Education Sector Performance of 2016, published by the Ministry of Education, clearly indicates that the ‘Core Textbook to pupil ratio’ in public basic schools both at the National and Deprived District levels have been in decline since 2013/14. At the national level, it fell from 2.2 in 2013/14 to 2.0 in 2014/15 and to 1.7 in 2015/16. At the Deprived District level, the figures for the corresponding years are 2.1, 1.8 and 1.6 respectively. (See page 21, Table 13).
VERDICT: Entirely True
EXPLANATION: The draft 2016 education sector performance report corroborates this claim.
- CLAIM: Also, last week when the President presented highlights of the manifesto, he mentioned specifically that beginning this academic year, 120,000 SHS boarding students will get free education. This promise is completely missing from the published Manifesto.
VERDICT: Completely False
EXPLANATION: Contrary to this claim Page 15 of the NDC’s manifesto under Second Cycle Education states “We intend to: Complete the construction of the 200 Community Day Senior High Schools; Expand the progressively free SHS programme to cover boarding students with emphasis on needy students.
- CLAIM: Today, Ghana is currently ranked 114th on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. The multiplicity of counterproductive taxes, levies and duties, high cost of utilities, erratic supply of electricity etc. led to this ranking. Meanwhile, the NDC manifesto is silent on how these real issues will be tackled.
VERDICT: Half True
EXPLANATION: It is true that Ghana is ranked 114th on 2016 Ease of doing business report. Ghana’s ranking reduced slightly from 112th to 114th compared to last year. Best performance since 2008 was 2010(60) followed by 2012(62) then 2011(63). The report by the World Bank assesses business regulations and the ease of doing business in countries. The 2016 edition of the report which measures regulations affecting 11 areas in business, exempted the area of labour market regulation and assessed ten areas: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. However it is not true that the NDC’S Manifesto does not posit how the plethora of issues affecting that sector will be dealt with. For example Pages 33 and 34 of the manifesto (sections reproduced below) address some of these challenges.
“Having reined in the fiscal excesses that characterized election years, prudence in public expenditures will continue to be a top priority to ensure the fiscal and macroeconomic stability of the country. We will rationalize the fiscal space, especially the tariff regimes to ensure that taxation and other tariffs are instruments of industrial development and trade facilitation so that, supported by government, the private sector can become the engine of employment creation, enhanced incomes, growth and wealth creation. The revenues accrued will be used to leverage private sector investments. In order to optimize the use of tariffs and other taxes, both as revenue generation and trade facilitation instruments, and to promote industrial development, Government has established the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) with the mandate, inter alia, to:
- Monitor and review the pattern of Ghana’s international trade and advice on matters affecting trade and industry;
- Study, identify and recommend tariff levels for specific sectors of the economy with due regard to the effective rate of protection without the blanket removal of duties on all imports and
- Conduct studies and publish reports on the competitiveness of Ghana’s tariff structure and the impact of the tariff structure on domestic industry, market access opportunities and challenges in relation to exports from Ghana; With improved private sector competitiveness (as a result of rationalized tariff regimes for growth and stronger taxable income) revenues will increase to reduce the fiscal deficits and also reduce dependence on debt. It is expected that the associated improved revenues and reduced monetization of fiscal deficits, interest rates on private sector loans will fall and make credit more accessible at competitive rates.’’
- CLAIM: On 28th June, 2016, the Mahama Government published for the attention of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, ‘Guidelines for the Preparation of the 2017-2019 Budgets.’ It provides a caution that finances are extremely tight and states that “Due to the continuous increase in the wage bill, as well as interest payments, and amortization among others, MDAs are entreated to budget within the given ceiling.”
VERDICT: Completely False
EXPLANATION: Indeed the document titled “Guidelines for the Preparation of the 2017-2019 budgets” was published by the Ministry of Finance on its website on June 28, 2016. However a thorough review of the document reveals that though the quoted statement is on the document, nowhere is there a cautionary statement that finances are extremely tight.