Prof. Philip Alston says inequality in Ghana is on the rise.
Ghana’s flagship policies might stimulate the country’s economy, but they won’t do much to get rid of poverty, even though that is their stated aim, says a UN human rights expert.
“The Government claims that the economic stimulus provided by these programmes will automatically cut the country’s high rates of poverty and growing rates of urbanisation, but the main beneficiaries will be people with capital, and those who are politically well-connected,” said UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston.
Alston’s comments mark the presentation of his report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 21 June, on his 10-day fact finding visit to Ghana in April 2018 during which he examined the country’s policies including “one factory, one district,” “one village, one dam” and “one constituency, one million dollars.”
“There is nothing in the design of the schemes to suggest they are capable of generating the sort of large-scale employment opportunities, or training for unskilled workers that would be needed to make a significant contribution either to eliminating extreme poverty or relieving urban crowding,” Alston explained.
“Inequality in Ghana is on the rise. It’s estimated that the number of millionaires in Ghana will increase by 80% in the next decade, while almost a quarter of the rest of the population will continue to live in poverty,” said the expert.
“Ghana currently spends only 1.4 percent of GDP on social protection. By comparison, other similar countries in sub-Saharan Africa spend 50 per cent more, or an average of 2.1 percent.”
“Around 90 percent of spending by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protections’ (the key Ministry for implementing social protection programmes) is said to come from donor partners. However, donors have indicated that social sector aid is very likely to fall in the context of the Government’s push for a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’.
“This places the country’s vital social protection programmes at great risk of being eroded, unless dramatic steps are taken to change the existing approach. Even the IMF has stressed Ghana’s need to protect social spending,” warned Alston, who has recently released a separate report criticising the Fund.