The Director of Communications for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) says although a promise to provide potable water in every community has yet to completely materialise, other interventions have been made to improve the living standards of Ghanaians.
Yaw Buabeng Asamoah said while the promise was made with a timeline for delivery, there was the need to put other areas of the economy in proper shape when the party took office.
Speaking on Joy News’ PM Express, he said “I dare say that in quantifiable terms notwithstanding that we may not have delivered water to every community in two years, we have also delivered in other areas that have strengthened our capacity to deliver the water going forward.”
The promise to deliver water and toilet facilities to every community in the country in the first two years of the NPP administration was made by the then running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
He said on a campaign platform in the run-up to the 2016 elections that “in the first two years of an NPP administration under this Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme where every constituency will get $1 million for rural and deprived communities, there should be no village or community in Ghana after the first two years that would have a water or toilet problem.”
But after two years, as Joy News has found in it’s ‘Dear Nana Addo’ series, very little has been achieved.
Mr Buabeng Asamoah said the notion that all promises will get fulfilled immediately a government comes into power is flawed.
That does not mean government is not responsible for what it promises, he noted but added that developments in the transition period meant that certain areas like the economy needed more focus.
“So you arrive and you have an economy where the fundamentals are all plunging in the wrong direction. Immediately, you have no option but to deal with that. Even if you jettison all your promises and deal with that, because your promises are founded on a healthy economy, without that there is nothing you can do.
“You’re immediately confronted by the need to resolve the economic situation and so for us we come in and we found out that we are in the IMF, we had a debt overhang, we were literally a HIPC lower-middle-income country, all the fundamentals in the wrong direction, there is a road and energy sector arrears weighing down the financial sector, there is no fiscal space at all, we were literally broke as it were,” he explained.
Despite these, Mr Buabeng Asamoah said the government was able to make significant strides by dealing with the seeing the IMF programme through successfully and even began to implement some of its flagship programmes like the Free SHS, which ideally, should have been impossible.
But the Director of Policy Research, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) believes promises like those Dr Bawumia made must be avoided by the political parties.
Dr Kojo Asante said more outcome-based promises should instead be considered as it is important for measuring progress and the continuity of governments over time.
“So if we establish the baseline that access to water is at this level and a government says when I come I will increase access to water by a certain percentage, then we can systematically from a year to two say we have added 20 or 30 more.
“If we are able to continue that way you can, over a period, say you have covered something. If you leave it, the concreteness of the promise makes it very difficult to measure.”
Dr Asante said in the absence of specific targets, it will be difficult to measure the exact contributions governments make when they come into power.
Citing the One District One Factory (1D1F) promise which is the government’s transformation and industrialisation programme, he asked “what exactly do you want to do?
“You want to build a certain type of factories and those are supposed to provide a certain number of jobs to people across the country, but if you don’t have targets in mind, it becomes difficult for you to measure your contribution.
As the country prepares for the 2020 general elections, he wants the parties to do more work and avoid manifesto promises that achieve nothing.