Tread cautiously in creating new regions — IEA

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is urging the government to tread cautiously and hasten slowly in its attempt to create new administrative regions.

According to the think tank, broader consultation and civic education needed to be carried out to ensure the full support of the citizenry, particularly those in the regions to be affected.
The IEA’s recommendation follows findings of a survey conducted by the institute which suggested that majority of Ghanaians expect the new regions promised by the new administration.
According to the research report, almost 71 per cent of the respondents strongly agreed or somewhat agreed on the creation of the new administrative regions.
The government has planned to create new regions out of the Northern, Brong Ahafo, Western and Volta regions.
Presenting results of the research, a Research Fellow of the IEA, Prof. Ransford Gyampoh, said support for the creation of the new regions was high in all the regions except the three regions of the north and the Volta Region which were the strongholds of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The report also showed that expectation for the creation of the new regions was high among those with junior high education and below, with respondents with senior high education and above dominating those not in agreement with the idea.
Prof. Gyampoh observed that apart from the goodwill new governments enjoyed for their policies, it was possible that Ghanaians who supported the creation of the new regions did not understand what it entailed.
The government’s case for the creation of new regions is that it is not for political expediency but rather to accelerate development in every part of the country.
Public anger
The last time a new region was created was in 1983 when the Upper West Region was created out of the Upper Region (now Upper East).
With public anger growing about the increasing cases of corruption in public office, the research found that majority of Ghanaians (43 per cent) want investigations into corruption allegations with the culprits punished when found culpable, 35.4 per cent others want the government to fulfil its campaign promise to appoint an independent prosecutor, while the remaining want the country’s anti-corruption laws and sanctions being enforced.
“Even though the government seems upbeat about the creation of the office of an independent prosecutor, the view of people sampled indicate that they prefer that the government investigates and punishes corrupt officials even before the appointment of an independent prosecutor,” Prof. Gyampoh explained.
Other recommendations for the research which covered areas such as education, health, the economy and critical governance areas include the need for the government to constitute a body which would investigate, review and improve the utilities billing systems in Ghana as the rising cost of water and electricity is still a burden to the populace.
The institute also called on the government to review and strengthen the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to deal with all bottlenecks, corrupt practices and inefficiencies that have stalled the smooth running of the scheme.
In the area of education, it recommended that the government should not compromise on quality while putting measures in place to promote free education at the senior high school level.
With the gruesome murder of Captain Maxwell Adam Mahama still on the minds of Ghanaians and with respondents putting premium on the government fighting crime and promoting personal safety of Ghanaians, it urged the government to strengthen the security agencies in its effort to fight crime and promote safety.
A former Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Boss, Justice Emile Short, expressed shock about the absurd levels of impunity and corruption in the country.
He observed that the growing cases of mob action were because the citizenry appeared to have lost confidence in the security services.
On corruption, he said what was necessary was for the laws to be enforced as it was the job of the public prosecutor and the Attorney-General to prosecute offenders irrespective of their political affiliation.
He said the appointment of an independent prosecutor did not mean that appointees of the ruling party caught in the web of corruption would be prosecuted.
The IEA research, which was in partnership with the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), is part of the IEA’s measures aimed at addressing the development challenges confronting the country.
It was to investigate and seek the opinion of the public on their expectations of the new government based on the promises contained in their manifesto and the 2017 budget, as well as find out whether the policy priorities of government are in line with the real expectations of the Ghanaian people and ultimately guide the new administration policies from 2017 and beyond.
Methodology and findings
It sampled 1,641 respondents who were 15 years and above and had mobile phones randomly nationwide.
The demography of the respondents show that 40.7 per cent were between the ages of 15 and 25, those from 26 to 35 years were 38.4 per cent, 36 to 59 years 17.4 per cent and 60 years plus, 3.5 per cent. While 54.7 per cent were from urban communities, 45.3 per cent were in rural areas with 41.8 per cent female and 58.2 per cent male.


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