United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, believes Ghana can overcome a lot of the challenges facing the nation if proper implementation structures are put in place to curb the growing rate of poverty and inequality.
According to him, Ghana has chalked enviable success when it comes to democracy in Africa, but said it is now time to implement policies that alleviate poverty in the country.
Speaking on the final day of a 10-day fact-finding mission to the Greater Accra, Northern, and Upper East regions, Mr. Alston said such policies will be key if Ghana is to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030.
“Ghana is at a crossroads and must now decide 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 and bring them into the agricultural economy in ways that would contribute significantly to economic growth,” he said.
“The benefits of record levels of economic growth experienced over the past decade have gone overwhelmingly to the wealthy, and inequality is higher than it has ever been in Ghana.”
He added that most politicians in the country prefer to use slogans rather than focus on implementing realistic policies.
He urged the government to make social protection one of its topmost priorities. This, he said, should be done in a transparent manner when it comes to costs and funding.
“Ghanaian politicians are immensely fond of, and very good at, creating slogans to describe complex but appealing programmes. But there is little doubt that the appetite for such slogans has already far outrun the capacity for realistic implementation,” Mr. Alston stated.
“The challenge going forward is for the Government to choose its real priorities, make sure that social protection is among them, and to be more transparent about potential costs and possible funding sources.”