Seven million Ghanaians are desperately poor – Economist

Professor Kodwo Ewusi, Economist and Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) has called on the government to work at achieving a single digit poverty level instead of striving to half poverty as prescribed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He said, “Using poverty profile from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ghana with an index of 28.1 per cent ranks 89th out of 135 countries, which implies that seven million Ghanaians are desperately poor”.

Professor Ewusi, who is also the Rector of the West End University College in the Central Region, made the call when delivering an inaugural lecture on the topic: “The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity and Growth” organised by the GAAS in Accra on Wednesday.

This followed his election and induction into the GAAS about two decades ago.

He classified the 135 countries into slightly poor, poor, very poor and dismally poor, and concluded that Ghana with her index of 28.1 per cent fell into the class of very poor countries and argued that MDGs indicators needed to be modified for local planning.

“For example, the primary enrolment ratio may be replaced by a proportion of students who pass well enough to get admission to Senior High Schools of their choice,” he said.

He, therefore, expressed the conviction that achieving a single digit poverty level would help to better put the country at the right development level where all citizens would have equal access to basic facilities such as potable water and education.

Professor Ewusi described the performance of the Ghanaian economy as one of the best in the world, propelled largely by oil and high commodity prices for cocoa and gold but cautioned policy makers not to be lured into complacency by such developments.

He projected that the country’s per capita income would hit $4,800 in 2015 to make Ghana become a middle-middle income economy by that year (2015).

“The production of oil has propelled the growth of the economy into double digits, with 2011 expected to grow by 17.5 per cent. The average growth for 2012 to 2015 will exceed 10 per cent per annum and will catapult Ghana to a per capita income of $4,800 in 2015,” he stated.

He said the inflow of export earnings would strengthen the value of the cedi, expected to appreciate consistently up to 2015, when it (cedi) would be equivalent to the US dollar.

Prof Ewusi also touched on the historical developments of the economy saying military interventions impeded its growth; between 1950 and 1959, the economy grew by over eight per cent but stagnated in the sixties and deteriorated in the seventies and began to recover with annual growth rates for the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s reaching 2.8 per cent, 4.2 per cent and 5.3 per cent in that order.

He revealed that contrary to the results of previous studies, liberal political systems, the presence of the International Monetary Fund and Economic Recovery Programmes also negatively affected the growth of the country’s economy.

He touched on basic amenities saying accessibility to potable water, currently estimated at 80 per cent, must take into consideration not only the facilities for water supply but also the availability of water and suggested that the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing should create a desk to promote water harvesting in the country.

“True accessibility index for water for Ghana is 63 per cent, implying that nine million Ghanaians do not have access to potable water,” he said.

Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, Vice President of the Arts Section of GAAS, who chaired the event, said issues raised must engage the attention of policy makers.

Prof Sawyerr commended Prof Ewusi for the lecture and insights into the developments within the country’s economy.

Source: GNA

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