High marks for Ghana's African Peer Review Mechanism implementation
Ghana's Implementation Report on the recommendations of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) has received overwhelming commendation. The 25 States that have signed up to be peer-reviewed were unanimous in their assessment that it was a reflection of a success story from Africa. The Report captured the progress Ghana was making in the four thematic areas of:
- Democracy and Political Governance;
- Economic Governance and Management;
- Corporate Governance and
- Socio-Economic Development.
Presenting the Implementation Report at the Sixth Summit of the APRM Heads of State and Government Forum held on the margins of the Africa Union's ordinary session in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa on Sunday, President John Agyekum Kufuor gave a detailed account of policy interventions and initiatives taken by the government in response to the recommendations made by the African Peer Review (APR) Panel of eminent persons. These include:
- a 50 million-dollar Land Administration Project to rationalise land administration and management;
- the setting up of a Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs to help to reduce the incidence of conflicts through chieftaincy succession and land disputes and
- a Public Sector Reform Ministry to enhance the delivery of efficient Government services.
In addition, he said, issues of fair wages and pensions were being seriously tackled, while the country's debt stock had been reduced by as much as 43 per cent through debt cancellation and the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. To help to promote good economic governance and management, President Kufuor informed the Forum that there was now a tracking system in the country's financial administration through the holding of joint weekly meetings by the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Ghana and the Controller and Accountant General's Department. Besides, the Public Account and Finance Committee of Parliament was also being strengthened through capacity building workshops and seminars to enable it to carry out its oversight role in financial matters.
President Kufuor further spoke about the Government's efforts at decentralising the Registrar General's Department, the introduction of credit schemes like the Venture Capital and loans to micro and small scale businesses; bringing down of corporate tax and the policy that a manufacturer should no longer pay Value Added Tax (VAT) upfront.
He also touched on the introduction of a legislation to enforce compliance with environmental regulations; the revamping of the educational system; the capitation grant; which has increased primary schools enrolment by about 16 per cent; the school feeding programme; free bus ride for pupils; training of teachers and provision of classrooms and equipment. He said there were, however, some challenges to the country's implementation of its programme of action, pointing out that, the quest to achieve single digit inflation had not been achieved largely due to the high petroleum prices. "Ghana, in addition, continues to face capacity and skills shortages in a number of endeavours to meet the national development effort while the public sector was yet to wholly orient itself to private sector growth."
President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairman of the Forum said Ghana had by its pacesetter role demonstrated that the APRM could spur Africa's progress. "The measures taken are concrete and development-oriented", he stated, and suggested that it should be published so that the world would come to know that the APRM was chalking success. South African President Thabo Mbeki described the implementation report as not only focussed and straight forward but that it also tackled in a verifiable manner, how the programme of action was being implemented. He recommended that it should be made the standard for all African countries. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Ghana's Report has brought out a number of best practices, which the other countries would have to copy.