The furor that has characterized the implementation of the NHIS capitation will soon be a thing of the past as opposition groups have come to an understanding of how to roll it out smoothly. Dr. Sulley Gariba, a development Adviser at the presidency gave the hint on pm:EXPRESS, a current affairs show on the Joy News Channel on Multi TV. “Implementers have engaged opposition, heard them out, looked at the legitimate concerns and apparently have begun to re-work it. As stakeholders they dialogued over it. They feel confident that what they have now is a reflection of a path to capitation that would work” he said.

NHIS Capitation which took off on 1st January 2012 in the Ashanti Region, on a pilot basis, was met with stiff opposition by diverse stakeholder groups. Capitation ties a subscriber down to one service provider for at least six months and eliminates the deep seated corruption that was becoming a canker in the scheme. Despite an 18 month long engagement with stakeholders in the health sector, the pilot was problematic to roll out.

Dr. Gariba recounted; “the opposition that emerged to it[capitation] was not quiet or benign. It was vociferous, they had their representation and they presented facts and figures as to why certain aspects would not work. President John Mahama according to briefings realized that they [opposition] themselves have come to some adjustments because of the vociferous nature of their opposition”.

He admitted the opposition to the NHIS capitation was a constructive one that has strengthened it for better implementation. Dr. Gariba in a quick reaction to comments that have come in on the heels of the president’s statement said the policy statement is not a campaign promise but a sort of housekeeping to help the president take stock of the country’s development course and to re-target energies into areas that are failing. He revealed “in the next couple of weeks when the NDC hits the stand with their manifesto, it would be far more visionary with more depth”.

The president’s policy statement touched on a number of things from inflation down to job creation to corruption with a solemn promise to ensure a peaceful election in December.

While Dr. Paa Kwasi Nduom’s Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has dismissed the policy statement as diversionary and disappointing, the NPP has christened it “too little, too late” obviously a re-echo of their earlier description of President Mahama as “DO LITTLE”. The PPP in a press statement said it is “disappointed that the president did not address the issue of the abuse of incumbency, the unfair coverage by state owned media of political parties’ activities and the lack of inclusiveness in the award of contracts which present a barrier to unity”.

The NPP on the other hand noted with concern in their press statement “The President told us inflation has been held down. There was however no mention of the cost of living, with the prices of everyday goods and services – bread, gari, rice, sugar, electricity, water, school fees, transport etc having gone up by triple digits over the last 3½ years. We don’t share the President’s claim that the prices of food have been stable. They have not, even though we have been importing massive amount of food. It is still a sad commentary that with more than 60% of our people engaged in food and agric, prices of food remain high and we still import tomatoes and maize”.

The NPP also posited that the cedi has lost 80% of its value, 20% in the first half of this year alone and robbing dollar account holders of accessing their own money is not the way to arrest the depreciating cedi calling it a band aid solution.

The Deputy Communication Director of the CPP Enersto Yeboah, who joined the show Tuesday, equally dismissed the event calling it a big waste of time because it halted productivity and delivered nothing new.

Dr. Sulley Gariba agreed the president’s address was a rendition of a program that was started three and half years ago. But, despite this, he said there were three things that were new. “It was an opportunity to mark his footprints, re-emphasize who he is, his style and temperament and what his focus would be. It was also a time to review the policy direction and what needed to be focused on. The third new thing is his distinction between the man as president and the man as the leader of the entire government delivery system”, Dr. Gariba concluded.