September Round-up: Unemployment Rate in Ghana Clarified, Health Sector Claims by NPP Fact-checked

 The FACTs in highlights:

  • Hospitals in Obuasi, Anyinam and Enyiresi not yet completed as claimed by the NPP 2020 manifesto
  • NPP did not develop the TVET Qualifications Framework as its manifesto suggests

Political party manifestos play a crucial role in party democracy and analyses of party competition for power. Considered a critical elections campaign tool in Ghana, the manifestos of the two major political parties – the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) – are always anticipated with a bated breath.

In September, the political scene witnessed the launch of the manifesto of the main opposition NDC. This was barely two weeks after the ruling NPP also launched its 2020 elections manifesto. A significant part of public discourse in the month saw heated conversations and debates as pundits and experts compared the performance and expectations of the parties as captured in their manifestos.

The 216-page manifesto document of the ruling NPP made several claims across different sectors including health, education, and infrastructure. The Fact-Check Ghana team stepped in to verify some of the claims that appeared simply unnerving in terms of delivered promises.

For example, the NPP, under the health section of its manifesto, claimed the completion of some three hospitals in Obuasi, Enyiresi and Anyinam. “…Construction of a District Hospital at Obuasi, Anyinam Trauma Hospital and Rehabilitation of Enyiresi Government Hospital have been completed.”. When Fact-check Ghana however subjected the claim to verification, it was found to be Completely false. Contrary to their claim, the team found that even though funding for the hospital projects have been secured and work is expected to commence, it was inaccurate for the 2020 NPP manifesto to capture them as completed.

The team cited the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy delivered on November 13, 2019 in Parliament by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta which said “The Ministry will commence the following projects in 2020…the Construction of New District Hospitals in Obuasi and Trauma Hospital at Anyinam,”. Subsequent to the announcement, a loan agreement (which included the building of an Accident and Emergency center at Enyiresi Hospital and the Rehabilitation of the Obuasi Health Center for the construction of the Trauma Hospitals in Anyinam  and Obuasi) was approved by Parliament only on July 14, 2020.

Another critical material sourced was the parliamentary hansard of Tuesday, July 14. Records showed that “the Parliamentary Finance Committee was informed that the project is expected to be completed within three (3) years after commencement, all things being equal.”  The Fact-Check Ghana team further discovered that in the debate leading to the approval of the loan agreement in Parliament, the Deputy Finance Minister, Abena Osei Asare, said the projects when completed would be of immense benefits to residents living in the catchment areas of Anyinam and Enyiresi.

On education, Fact-Check Ghana found Completely False the NPP’s claim that it developed the Qualifications Framework for the National Technical, Vocational and Education Training (TVET) “TVET Qualification Framework developed…”.

The team found that the National Technical and Vocational Education and Training Qualifications Framework (NTVETQF) was approved by Parliament in 2012. This followed the passing of LI 2195 under the COTVET Act on September 3, 2012. Indeed, in the 2016 manifesto of the the opposition NDC, the development of the NTVETQF was included in the achievement of that administration. On August 11, 2020, when the current Minister of Education, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, delivered a statement on education in parliament, he admitted that the NPP administration came to meet the NTVETQF, which he said had not being utilised.

Still on education, the team also found the claim that the NPP administration has delivered Free TVET as part of the Free SHS policy, Misleading. This is because, in the 2017 budget statement (pg. 148), the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, announced government’s plan of implementing a free Senior High School (SHS) programme which included technical and vocation institutions.

However, currently, according to the National TVET advocacy team, only the 48 public TVET institutions which are managed under the Ministry of Education enjoy the free education policy. This has resulted in the advocacy team’s call on government to ensure that the free SHS policy covers all TVET public institutions. Deputy Education Minister for Education in charge of TVET, according to media reports, indeed confirmed in December 2019 that the free SHS policy does not cover all TVET institutions and, therefore, promised that government will, in September 2020, ensure all TVET students benefit from the free SHS policy.

Corruption is always a big issue in Ghana’s political discourse. Questions like which government is most corrupt or demonstrates greater muscle in the fight against corruption remains a banter among politicians, their supporters and pundits. In the last couple of years, the issue of which government has funded accountability institutions to do their work effectively has become a debate between the ruling NPP and the major opposition NDC.

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In 2019, for instance, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), went to court to seek clarification on Article 227 after accusing the Finance Minister of “unconstitutionally” presenting a reduced budget of the commission to parliament. Many interpreted the comments from CHRAJ to mean that the commission was receiving less funding. However, President Akufo-Addo in his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) expressed his commitment at helping these institutions function effectively saying “government has increased budgetary allocations to all the accountability institutions  of  State, including  the  Parliament  of  Ghana,  the  Judiciary, CHRAJ, EOCO, the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, the Auditor General, the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Ghana Police  Service  with  annual  increases between  25%  and  34% between 2017 and 2019”.

Fact-check Ghana in the month of September started a series on looking at the budgetary allocations and actual disbursements for accountability institutions by the NDC and NPP regimes from 2013 to 2019. The Fact-check Ghana team filed an official Right to Information request to these institutions to seek the information. The series provide readers with the relevant and factual information to inform their judgements.

At a Meet the Press by the Ministry of Information on September 16, 2020, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, reporting on the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the job sector and the economy, claimed that Ghana’s employment rate dropped from 11.9 % to 8.4% in 2018. Although the minister was based his claim on the Ghana Living Standards Survey 6 and 7 (GLSS 6 and GLSS 7) by the Ghana Statistical Services, Fact-check Ghana has found his claim to be False.

The team found that according to the GLSS 6, Ghana’s unemployment rate in 2015 was 5.2%. The document clearly stated that “the unemployment rate for persons aged 15 years and older is 5.2 percent; the rate is higher for females (5.5%) than for males (4.8%).” The Minister also said that that the unemployment rate decreased from 11.9% in 2015 to 8.4% in 2018. While the 2018 figure is right according to GLSS 7, the Minister’s claim is still false. Going by the two datasets the Minister referred to, the only indication is that unemployment rate rather increased from 5.2% since GLSS 6 to 8.4% in GLSS 7.

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