The government has described aspects of the report by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights as repetitive and unfounded.
Addressing the media on Thursday, the Information Minister, Dr Mustapha Hamid, said the UN official, Professor Philip Alston, displayed a “misunderstanding of the fundamental philosophy that has under-girded the development agenda” of the Akufo-Addo administration.
UN Special Rapporteur’s statement on Ghana’s poverty eradication programmes
In the crux of his report, Prof Alston was of the view that the government’s flagship poverty eradication programmes may fall short of their mandate due to structural and roll-out defects.
Briefing the media earlier on Thursday on his preliminary findings, Prof Alston said the only way to make these policies beneficial to the poor is for the government to equitably redistribute the country’s resources.
In response to the findings, the government said Prof Alston only resorted to highlighting age-old social problems.
“It is important to state that the report is a rehash of the social problems that have bedevilled this country for generations like issues of streetism, the phenomenon of head porterage and the endemic poverty that characterizes the three regions of the north and the coastal belts of Ghana especially,” Dr. Hamid said.
The Minister added that the current government was setting itself apart with newly envisioned development programmes.
“Indeed, it is in direct response to these problems that the government of President Akufo-Addo fashioned its programme of the three development authorities, whose primary purpose is to ensure a more penetrative solution to the problem of poverty in every constituency, and also to ensure a more judicious use of the resources that are to be distributed across the country.”
Prof. Alston, in his findings, said Ghana was at a crossroads and needed to decide on whether to continue existing policies that will further enrich the wealthy and do little for the poor, or to make fiscal adjustments that would lift millions out of poverty.
But the government is already taking policy steps to avoid these concerns, Dr. Hamid stated.
“Our $1 million per constituency seeks to put money that was hitherto applied to the development of the country whimsically and indiscriminately… directly into the constituencies allowing for better use of those resources,” he noted.
The issue with Ministry of Finance
The Minister further addressed Prof. Alston’s seeming discontent with officials of the Ministry of Finance because of his inability to secure a meeting with them.
Prof. Alston had held that policies funded by the Finance Ministry are not those about social protection and that many of them are donor-funded.
But Dr. Hamid contended that these assertions are baseless and “not premised on any fact.”
“One does not have to meet with officials of the Ministry of Finance to appreciate the impact that the policy of Free Senior High School is having on families across the entire country.
It is receiving attention all over the developing world exactly because it is a bold social protection programme that is guaranteeing secondary education for every child in Ghana,” he said.