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IMANI scrutinises NDC's manifesto highlights

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IMANI Alert: Vision 2021: The Future of Ghana as Promised by NDC’s Manifesto

President Mahama presented the highlights of the NDC’s manifesto in the evening of 13th September, 2016 in Accra.

By ‘highlights’, he obviously meant the most important, most high-impact, and most representative aspects of the 100-plus page manifesto document he shall be unveiling on 17th September, 2016.

IMANI can thus use this speech alone to analyse the most critical parts of the NDC’s campaign platform for 2016, and perhaps even make an input into the yet to be launched full version.

It is IMANI’s hope that this brief analysis shall present the general public and the media with an objective assessment of how the NDC’s plans for Ghana shall impact the country regardless of how extreme the partisan debate develops over the next few days.

IMANI’s IMANIFESTO programme, which dates back to 2007 in various forms, has been designed to enable citizens navigate the election campaign promises of political parties in the midst of a highly polarised environment where the bulk of media coverage usually goes to the competing political parties.

There are four sections in this brief article.

I. Firstly, the annexes at the bottom of this piece, which contain descriptive notes we used to calculate the financial impact of the manifesto commitments in the NDC flag bearer’s highlights speech.

II. Secondly, a very basic scenario analysis exercise, which attempts to look at how the spending proposals found in the commitments shall impact what we believe are the three greatest risk factors of NDC rule, should the party win power in this year’s elections.

III. Thirdly, a D-day report, in which we examine how this country will look like on 13th September, 2020, should the NDC win power and implement 75 per cent of the commitments in its manifesto without any adjustments.

IV. Lastly, a proposed set of adjustments to the NDC’s planned programme for 2017-2020 comprising of IMANI’s policy perspectives on how they can avoid some of the adverse findings in this brief.


To predict how Ghana will look like on 13th September, 2020, following a victory at the polls for the NDC on 7th December 2016, we first need to look at the biggest risks facing NDC rule on 13th September, 2016.

There has been a sustained trading of accusations between the NDC and the political opposition. Various interest groups in support of and opposed to the NDC have also made all sorts of claims over the last seven and three-quarter years about the character of the NDC’s governance.

But there are three issues or factors that have emerged over the last five years of NDC rule, which are supported by such objective evidence that no one, not even the NDC’s most loyal supporters, can wholly dismiss.

Not in any particular order, the three factors are:

I. Rising Public Debt: The escalating rate of public debt growth as measured by debt-to-GDP ratio data is a subject that has fostered a lot of controversy. From December 31st, 2008 to date, Ghana’s debt to GDP ratio has increased from 32.3 per cent to roughly 70 per cent (Note that by benchmarking against GDP, several variables that normally interfere when comparing economic variables at different points of time disappear). In contrast, Nigeria has a debt to GDP ratio of about 13%. Cote D’Ivoire has a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 42%. Kenya has a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 52%. IMF’s debt sustainability analysis shows that over the medium-term horizon, all three countries have a declining profile of total public debt-to-GDP ratio. These are some of the key countries we are typically grouped with when investors are sizing up frontier economies. That we are not only such a glaring outlier today but are projected to get worse should worry us immensely. As we will show later, the trajectory of our debt growth is far from benign. This factor is a major determinant of the fiscal leeway of the NDC government.

II. Waste & Leakages: The alarming rise in the level of resource misapplication through maladministration, documented corruption (SADA, GYEEDA, SMARTYS etc.), poor value-for-money transactions (Ameri etc), weak state defence against contractual liabilities (e.g. The ‘judgement debts’ saga), and costs incurred through poor planning, track the adverse findings of Auditor General reports of the last 5 years (showing compounded growth of more than 250% in the scale of financial regularities). This factor is a major determinant of the spending efficiency of the NDC government.

III. Slowing GDP Growth: Between 2005 and 2011, it was quite difficult to plot a clear and consistent curve for GDP growth in Ghana. The rate declined from 5.9 per cent to 4.35 per cent in 2007, rose to 7.9 in 2010 and then climbed up even further to an all-time high of 14 per cent following the discovery of oil. The most consistent five-year fall in GDP growth we have, however, witnessed since independence is most likely the one we have seen since 2011. Such consistency tells a story, and that story is the story of a lack of new growth pills. Having milked the last set of growth pills, such as debt relief, telecoms, financial service booms, and the oil find, to build a $40 billion economy, we now appear stuck in a ditch, frantically searching for the new steroid. This factor is a major determinant of the growth burden of the NDC government.

As far as IMANI is concerned, these three major risk factors of rising public debt, persistent waste and leakages and slowing GDP growth, when combined together, strongly constrict the government’s capacity to sustain investment without unhinging other levers of the economy (‘fiscal leeway’), affects the delivery of projects on time and within budget (spending efficiency), and raises the cost of living, offsetting the gains of infrastructure as real incomes fall and the living conditions of people deteriorate (‘growth burden’).

It is against this matrix of three risks and three constraints that the ‘highlight promises’ made by the NDC flag bearer on 13th September, 2016, and detailed in the annexes below, were analysed to determine what the shape of Ghana would be on 13th September 2020 should the NDC succeed in implementing 75% of their manifesto without the adjustments proposed by IMANI.

In building the scenario, the first thing IMANI’s analysts did was to compute ballpark costs of the projects and programmes that in our estimation fall off our medium-term expenditure trajectory, and which, therefore, are likely to most severely impact our finances. We computed these off-track expenditures based on our more than a decade’s experience analysing Ghana’s budget and public spending patterns.

Projects and programmes likely to stimulate economic growth or address institutional deficits for the attainment of various structural objectives were isolated and their positive net effect factored into the analysis. Savings due to possible rationalisation or restructuring of existing recurrent expenditure were also considered.

Finally, the impact of the new net spending, fresh overheads, administrative overreach, additional costs of controls, leakages, and the second-order effects of these parameters was assessed on key macroeconomic variables such as inflation, GDP-per-capita growth, debt service-to-revenue ratio, exchange rate, import cover, interest rates, and credit dynamics. The total effect of this composite calculations is described in the next section.


From the ballpark-costing exercise performed on the scope of the NDC’s planned projects and programmes, as detailed in the annexes, the party would need to spend a sum of $24 billion over and above their five-year spending average if they are to implement 75 per cent of their full manifesto. From an analysis of revenue growth, donor appetite for budget financing, and other net positives, $22 billion of the amount would have to be borrowed and added to the debt stock, taking this country’s debt-to-GDP ratio above 100%.

The prevailing composite interest rate for total public debt will exceed the current effective rate of more than 9 per cent.

With the exchange rate hovering just about 8:1, the total debt service requirement in local currency will exceed 76 billion, a crazy 19 per cent of the GDP, and an even crazier 50 per cent of all government revenues.

The current account deficit will be in the 25 per cent range, interest rates will be galloping at 70 per cent and inflation will be hovering at 45 per cent, whilst domestically the government would have no choice but to start borrowing at a 60 per cent Treasury bill rate, making the 42 per cent recorded in 2001 look rather tame.

At these levels of inflation, weekly changes in the price of goods, shortages of fuel at the pump, rolling blackouts, and a repressive forex regime, would by now be commonplace and start feeding into the job market, as businesses rapidly downsize and investors nervously hunker in their bunkers.

Of course, things do not have to be this way.

The NDC government has the option, even now, before it launches the full version of the manifesto, to carefully review the financial implications of its freakishly long laundry list of off-track projects and programmes by fundamentally reframing the strategy behind these choices.

It can achieve several of the targets and social objectives it has in mind by cleverly inducing private sector spending in particular directions.

In the next section, we provide specific philosophical suggestions as to how many of the party’s lofty goals can be attained without ratcheting debt up to the frightening levels suggested by the raw estimates in the annexes.


There is no doubt that this is the most ambitious ‘social democratic’ blueprint of Ghana’s future the NDC has ever developed.

At some points in the president’s address, one couldn’t help but be stunned. The promise to go back to the Kwame Nkrumah-era industrialisation vision and resurrect certain viable parts of it was a clear challenge thrown to the traditional Nkrumahist parties in Ghana that the NDC, having for long laid claim to the mantle of the Osagyefo, now intended to up the stakes further.

They have now even gone to the extent of promising a wholesale collectivisation of agriculture in their sweeping grab of Nkrumah’s legacy.

‘Farming Service Centres’ for every district that dictate every aspect of farmers’ work, ‘National Employment Centres’ to record the skills of every young person in the community, and polyclinics in every corner are just a few of the nuts and bolts of this grand vision.

There is, of course, much to admire in a string of policies designed to make everyone happy in Ghana by dishing out goodies left, right, and centre. Who in their right minds can oppose free tricycles for the disabled, tested and approved by the Ghana Federation of the Disabled? Or a complete eradication of mother-to-child HIV transmission through free and prompt access to potent medicines? Or a definite and conclusive halt to open defecation by 2021?

The problem is that it takes management to ensure the timely design and coordination of the design of all these programmes, to staff the institutions, to raise the money, to spend it effectively, and to harness the results to generate more resources to sustain the programme.

Given the risks and constraints that the NDC is confronted with, which we have carefully outlined above, the overarching strategy behind its manifesto should be a set of policies that minimises those risks and helps navigate the constraints.

Programmes and projects should be connected together and joined up in a way that achieves that overriding risk management goal. Channels for programme management effectiveness should be outcome- rather than input-focused, trigger incentives by enabling the right community relationships, and harness the country’s latent strengths, not create a plethora of new, inexperienced institutions.

In this light, the first order of business for the NDC is to build means-testing capacity into all the many, many, welfare programmes that it has in mind so that scarce public resources go only to the neediest, while every beneficiary is encouraged in subtle ways to vacate the freebies as soon as they are able. Providing blanket free goods to everyone is the quickest way to drop efficiency. Celebrating the continuous rise in the number of children being fed by the state (apparently by more than four times in six years) is not a viable measure of progress.

Without consolidating government departments and identifying those services where the government has no clear advantage in providing (example: processing licences and managing their printing) and which should, therefore, be delivered by private service providers in a competitive tendering regime, there is simply no way to free capacity to deliver all these planned new services without doubling the size of the public service and tripling the cost of wages and administration.

It should be evident upon accessing the key ‘highlight promises’ in the annexes below that the NDC has a lot of room to reorganise the overarching strategy behind its planned programmes and projects to achieve many of the admirable social goals that it has so eloquently espoused in the manifesto, from universal prosperity and security to gender parity and scientific advancement.


I. Four pillars of NDC’s manifesto

Putting People First: Social services
Strong and Resilient Economy
Expanding Social & Economic Infrastructure

II. Key ‘Highlighted Promises’ & Some Assumptions
(Ballpark calculations are based on patterns of expenditure established under the administration over the last five years. Proposed projects are benchmarked against already completed projects of similar or identical scope).

1. Expansion and upgrade of 125 existing secondary schools.

2. Additional investment in vocational and technical training (direct budgeted cost was given as $100 million)

3. Free secondary school package to be extended to at least 200,000 boarding students.

4. National Apprentice Programme to reach 20 per cent of eligible beneficiaries.

5. Multiple campuses to be set up for the upcoming Eastern Region-based university. Main campus in Somanya. Satellite campuses in multiple locations, including in the Afram Plains.

6. All 200 Community Day SHS projects to be completed.

7. Student Loan Scheme to achieve 80 per cent of coverage of College of Education enrolees.

8. All schools under trees to be cleared.

9. Two cycles of 100 per cent increase in capitation grants for 70 per cent of eligible schools.

10. Early childhood learning specialisation programme to attract teacher trainees to cover 40 per cent of planned two-year official pre-school initiative.

11. Pilot of one tablet per pupil project.

12. New facilities to facilitate official two-year pre-school initiative.

13. 25 per cent (30 per cent target) of all new community SHS facilities to be equipped with equipment for technical training.

14. New bureaucracy in the civil service to support newly created role of Deputy Minister responsible for technical and vocational education.

15. 12 new training schools to train technical and vocational institute instructors (initial one in Agona Swedru). [IMANI projection of 12 facilities based on benchmarking with colleges of education situation.]

16. Fresh injection of investment into new technical universities to enhance teaching and learning of science, math, technical and vocational courses.

17. Two specialised oil & gas skills training institutes.

18. Three new colleges of education to ensure sustainability of quota-free access.

19. Additional investment into new medical school facilities.

20. Expand public sector hiring of graduate teachers.

21. Create a new nationwide industry-academia collaboration programme to facilitate internships.

22. Build a career counselling programme across the second and third cycle educational tiers.

23. Increase the number of trained midwives at the current accelerated rate.

24. Complete the country’s second military hospital in Kumasi.

25. Establish a maritime tertiary hospital facility.

26. Complete the Wa Teaching Hospital in 2017.

27. Upgrade the Takoradi Hospital.

28. Establish new hospitals in several district capitals, including Salaga and Konongo-Odumase

29. Establish both a hospital and polyclinic in Adentan

30. Nearly 100 more polyclinics in several towns (at least five per region), including in Bamboi.

31. Tie NHIS funding to petroleum receipts, which in a volatile oil market would almost certainly require a subsidy from the consolidated fund to smooth variable inflows.

32. Complete the upgrade of all the regional hospitals, including Tema.

33. 120-bed Bekwai Hospital.

34. New, national mosquito control, spraying, programme

35. Additional laboratories for traditional medicines research.

36. Relocation of Accra Psychiatric Hospital to Pantang and conversion into a world-class mental health facility.

37. Strict implementation of the Mental Health Act 2012, with its resourcing implications.

38. Two more advanced psychiatric hospitals, one in Ashanti, the other in the Northern Region.

39. Youth Enterprise Support programme to be expanded despite absence of independent evaluation of effectiveness. Additional GHS100 million to be committed.

40. Azumah Nelson Sports Complex to be refurbished into a new modern facility.

41. New sports stadia in Upper West, Upper East, and Volta, Eastern, Brong Ahafo.

42. In each region, one of the community senior high schools shall be fitted into a centre of excellence in sports. Talent developed in these facilities shall feed national sports teams.

43. Electronic card system and database to be implemented for the ‘vulnerable aged’.

44. Electronic register of all vulnerable households to be established. This will require a census programme.

45. 10,000 ‘kayayei’ to be drafted into the Youth Enterprise Support.

46. Vulnerable aged without pensions to be granted a bimonthly pension under ‘Eban’ scheme.

47. New free tricycles for physically challenged persons.
Prototype already developed and referred to the National Federation of Disabled for assessment and approval.

48. Additional increase in the District Assembly Common Fund votes to be reserved for the disabled.

49. Free NHIS registration with pre-paid subscriptions for the disabled and physically challenged.

50. A Government multi-channel, cross-platform, electronic payments platform to be introduced. This shall make payments for all government services, taxes, levies and charges electronic on an obligatory basis.

51. A new capital markets development initiative.

52. Provisions to be made for the protection of depositors’ funds in the banking system.

53. A ‘Labour Intensive Public Works Programme’ to be initiated to employ 300,000 unskilled Ghanaian workers.

54. Aggressively invest in the textiles, garments, and leather industries. Lots of interest already seen from the Far East due to the ongoing relocation from China in search of lower cost destinations.

55. Database of all Ghanaian youth and their skillsets and employers will be given incentives to recruit from the database in regional ‘National Employment Centres’.

56. Implement feasibility studies of all the Kwame Nkrumah-era factories. Aboso Glass Factory to be revived.

57. MASLOC loan scheme to be expanded and sustained.

58. Expand investments into SADA, including provision for more than 100,000 hectares of irrigation-fed farmland.

59. Provide stipends to selected indigents in deprived regions.

60. Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in Accra to be developed to match the new Rattray Park, which, apparently, is now a “centre of tourism” in Kumasi.

61. Complete the Kasoa Interchange

62. Build a new interchange at the Obetsebi Circle area.

63. Intelligent traffic systems to be introduced. Control centres will be built to oversee traffic conditions and manage vehicular movements in major cities remotely.

64. Master craftsmen to be recruited and paid to train NYEP beneficiaries. Several garage complexes in Ghana, such as those at Suame and in Kumasi, shall be the sites for these programmes.

65. Revamp the agricultural cooperative initiatives.

66. The Youth in Agric programme to be aggressively boosted.

67. Storage facilities to be constructed across districts to minimise post-harvest losses.

68. Farmer Service Centres to be established within reach of the five million or so farmers. The first fifty of these are already under development in collaboration with SADA.

69. Every district shall host a farming mechanisation centre with a minimum of 10 tractors, all equipped with the full complement of implements such as harvesters.

70. An agro-credit scheme shall be established to serve all farmers.

71. All farmers shall receive inputs on a credit basis. Repayments shall be processed post-harvest through produce purchasing boards in the districts.

72. A new plantation scheme shall be established by COCOBOD to attract youth sharecroppers.

73. Two more shea butter factories in the North

74. A new Cashew Board for Ghana, headquartered in the Brong Ahafo Region.

75. Cotton production to be taken to 100,000 metric tonnes a year based on input subsidies.

76. Free coffee seedlings to be provided to all interested farmers. Four million of these are already being nursed. 6,000 metric tonnes of coffee are currently being produced in Ghana. The volume of production is to increase to 100,000 metric tonnes as a result of this policy.

77. Cold-chain infrastructure shall be deployed across all landing sites in coastal Ghana.

78. The Ghana Industrialisation Fund and the Ghana Exim Bank shall be capitalised.

79. More cash shall be injected into Juapong Textiles following recent investments

80. A ceramic factory is planned for Buipe.

81. The Tema Oil Refinery shall be expanded to be able to produce 160,000 refined fuel products a day. This implies a crude capacity in excess of 200,000 barrels, more than four times current capacity.

82. An alumina plant shall be set up in Ghana.

83. A fertiliser plant in Shama is planned, and shall be fed with gas from the ENI fields.

84. Steel mills to be established to be powered by planned energy surpluses.

85. Additional 2000 megawatts of power (80 per cent of total current output) to be added to the grid.

86. The shipyard and drydock recently handed over to the GPHA shall be refurbished into the foremost shipbuilding and repair facility in the Gulf of Guinea.

87. A jewellery village and gold market shall be established at Tepa in partnership with KNUST. Value addition to Ghana’s gold is planned to expand considerably.

88. 10 large-scale water treatment plants shall be established.

89. A 30km aqueduct is planned for Damongo to enable the municipality tap the water resources of the Black Volta.

90. Barbering saloons are already using rooftop solar panels provided for free by the government. More such distribution is planned.

91. First large-scale biomass gas production plant is being developed in partnership with a Norwegian investor.

92. Dualisation of all major highways is planned. The first three are Accra to Kumasi, Accra to Takoradi, and Aflao to Accra.

93. Two ‘bridges’ shall be built over the Accra-Tema motorway to replace current tunnels.

94. Outer ring roads shall be developed for major towns and cities, starting with: Tema to Kumasi (bypassing Accra) and from Kintampo to Bolga (bypassing Tamale).

95. The Black Star Shipping Line shall be re-established as a subsidiary of GPHA.

96. Feasibility studies for a deep-sea port at Keta shall be completed and if positive the project shall be commenced.

97. Phase 2 of the Kumasi International Airport shall be completed. A new runway for large-body aircraft like Boeing 737 and a new terminal shall come on stream.

98. Phase 2 of the Tamale Airport shall be completed. New Hajj terminals are planned.

99. New airstrips in Bolgatanga and Cape Coast (to boost tourism) are planned.

100. Work shall be completed on the railway line from Kojokrom to Sekondi-Takoradi.

101. The existing freight railway line shall be extended to Awaso and Kumasi

102. The Boankra inland port to be completed and adorned with a freight rail system.

103. The Tema-Akosombo railway line shall be completed.

104. A barge shall be commissioned to complement planned infrastructure for the upcoming Buipe inland water port.

105. The Northern Railway Line to Burkina Faso shall commence.

106. Suburban rail systems are planned for Accra to Amasaman and Nsawam, and Kumasi to Ejisu.

107. New bus fleets to be procured for the State Transport Company, with fifty already about to be put in service.

108. The Bus Rapid Transit system has already commenced (Amasaman to Accra buses already in place). Known as the Ayalolo Express, they shall soon cross-cross suburbia.

109. Expansion of the Metro Mass Transport fleet is planned.

110. The Ghana-Mauritius ICT Park to be completed.

111. The National ID Card programme will ensure that every Ghanaian receives an ID card.

112. A national integrated identity system is to be constructed.

113. The house numbering and house addressing system to be completed. The data shall be digitalised so that Ghana can replicate the GPS model.

114. A Western Ecotourism Authority is planned.

115. Every district shall have a compacting and shredded machine for plastic waste, and regional recycling centres shall be established.

116. All public buildings, schools and facilities shall use biofilm systems to manage waste. Bio-digesters shall also be installed, especially in schools.

117. All storm drains shall be kept desilted.

118. Open defecation to end by the end of the term.

119. District-wide affordable housing schemes are planned. BRRI, Habitat International, and other partners have developed technologies to keep the cost to within GHS 50,000 for a three-bedroom house, and GHS30000 for a two-bedroom house. The sub-market interest rate mortgages shall be managed by district assemblies.

120. A special rent-advance scheme shall be implemented in partnership with the banks for people with a regular, known, source of income. Below-market interest rates shall apply.

121. All districts shall have central markets.

122. A Commission of Inquiry shall be set up to discuss the viability of increasing the number of regions in Ghana to 15

123. The government will modernise the Registry of Births & Deaths. Community volunteers shall use mobile phones to register all new births in the community.

124. A new headquarters for the National Media Commission and an expanded Media Development Fund shall support media growth.

125. All vulnerable households shall receive free set-up boxes to enable the switching off of the analogue signal.

126. The Fire Service shall be equipped with high-rise fire-fighting equipment.

127. Scanners on all land borders shall be installed, and the Police shall build regional SWAT and counter-terrorism squads.

128. New remand blocks in existing prisons shall be constructed to ensure that yet-to-be convicted persons in custody are not contaminated by hardened criminals.

129. Kumasi Prison to be relocated and converted into a medium-security facility.

130. Public hospitals to be established under the Immigration, Prisons and Fire Service institutions

Source: IMANI Ghana

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