The Coalition of Northern Savannah Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) led by the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA) has called on government to review the $1 million per constituency in its mid-year budget review to Parliament.
A press statement signed by Mr Bismark Adongo Ayorogo, the Executive Director of NORPRA and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region, noted that the 275 constituencies do not have the same levels of poverty in each of the regions.
“A careful consideration and deeper reflection on the different levels of poverty in each of the regions and districts that have the 275 constituencies in the review of the policy will help inform government’s policy decision to do away with the current Policy, which is more of a Policy of Equality premised on the assumptions that all constituencies have the same levels of poverty, hence the policy declaration of $1 million, 1 Constituency.”
In the view of the Coalition, the assumptions of the policy is strongly exposed by a number of credible poverty statistics in the country.
“For instance, the Ghana Poverty Mapping Report (2015) points out clearly that constituencies in Wa West and Sissala West in the Upper West Region, Builsa South in the Upper East Region and East Gonja in the Savannah Region have poverty levels of 92.4per cent, 82.2per cent, 84.4per cent, 84.2per cent respectively.
The story is totally different in other areas as much lower poverty levels are recorded in areas such as Cape Coast Metropolis (2.6per cent) in Central Region, Suaman (6.0 per cent) in the Western region, New Juaben Municipal (4.6 per cent) in Eastern Region, Asokore Mampong Municipal (3.3 per cent) in Ashanti Region, and La Dade Kotopon Municipal (1.3 per cent) in Greater Accra Region.”
According to the statement, if government ignores the poverty levels and use constituencies as basis for resource allocation for infrastructure for poverty eradication, it would widen the unquestionable development gap between the southern and northern parts of the country.
It added that “This is so because while the Upper West Region, for instance, with poverty level of over 80 per cent will be disbursed $11 million per annum due to its 11 constituencies, the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions with regional poverty levels of five per cent and 14 per cent respectively, would be disbursed $34 million and $47 million per annum due to the number (34 and 47) of constituencies.”
The statement noted that “a serious re-think and review of the policy will, in no doubt, reposition and influence government to allocate national resources in a much better strategic way to effectively address high levels of poverty, deprivations and inequalities in the country.”
The statement considered that the aged-long structural and systematic marginalization of northern Ghana through different state policies before and after independence, largely contributed to the high incidence of poverty and deprivations in the area.
“It is important that government pays much more attention to the Northern Development Authority (NDA) by increasing budgetary allocations of $5 million per constituency to NDA under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP).”
The statement indicated that it was the expectation of the CSOs Coalition that government would appreciate their position that “a Policy of Equality as applied in IPEP is not the best policy option to effectively transform the northern savannah belt and address inequalities and the development imbalances in Ghana.”
“A quick review of the policy would undoubtedly be a good sign of a strong political will to accelerate socio-economic transformation of the northern savannah belt and reverse the tide of impoverishment in the area,” the statement added.
It stated that the CSOs are ready to give full support, collaborate and partner the NDA for effective implementation of all pro-poor policies and programmes of the government.