Mr John Mahama, as president, suspended the payment of allowances to nurse and teacher trainees because his economy was “weak”, Deputy Health Minister Dr Bernard Oko-Boye has said.
Mr Mahama stopped the payments in the lead-up to the December 2016 elections.
Dr Oko-Boye told Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana programme during a discussion about the health of the economy in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, that: “John Dramani Mahama [and] the NDC administration did not stop the nurses’ allowance because they hated nurses, it was a matter of ability to pay based on the health of the economy”, explaining: “The expenditure item could not be sustained”.
So, he noted, “if you have a change in government and that government is able to reinstate that particular allowance package, it means that that economy has gained health that is better than the previous”, Dr Oko-Boye added.
“I say it all the time, teacher trainee allowance; don’t be mistaken to think it was because JM had a personal dislike for teachers; the economy he was managing was weak and could not sustain it. So, the point I’m making is that, sustaining programmes and adding more [takes a healthy economy]”.
Further, Dr Oko-Boye said: “The clearance we gave to nurses, some started way back in 2012, four-year batch, trying to clear for them to work. They were at home, not because JM hated them but his economy was weak and could not sustain wage bill. We have given clearance”.
Touching on Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s assertion that President Akufo-Addo is a better manager of the economy and crises than Mr Mahama, Dr Oko-Boye said: “The point Bawumia makes all the time is that, when we compare our regime, in terms of what we are able to sustain – free SHS, the bill a year is more than GHS1.2 billion; those who said: ‘Wait for some 20 years’, Lee Ocran, may his soul rest in peace; those who made those statements, they were looking at the health of the economy then and they knew you could not sustain the budget.
“We have sustained it because the economy is healthier. It does not mean when COVID comes, you say: ‘I can sustain free SHS, I’ve given recruitment to more nurses, I can pay my workers, I still don’t care, I’ll not look around the world and be smart’. You’ve got to be smart because there are facilities across the globe”, he noted.
He added: “Our revenues at the ports have suffered unimaginable hit, everybody knows that. You know COVID has disrupted supply chains over this period. Our revenue from our aviation, as in the airports, and the business that comes with hospitality, in fact, two, three weeks ago, I passed by Golden Tulip, the one at 37, the reception had the lights off”.
“The point I’m making is that we are in times that are unimaginable. Never in the history of the US in the past 20, 30 years, have they gone for a facility three times what they took in a whole year … Without the World Bank facility, we can pay for most of the bills that come with COVID, we can sustain three months of no water bills, we can sustain three months – like this government had done – of half electricity bills for both domestic and commercial use. These are heavy bills that we’ll pay, but if you don’t look for sources to close the gap, because you had revenue with which you have budgeted, what happens is that, in a few years, you can have real difficulty in putting things together.
“So, nobody should interpret the going to creditors as a sign that, in fact, JDM said the economy is on a ventilator. If because we are going for a $100 million facility, the economy is suffering difficulty in breathing, then the one who went for $950 million ECF facility when there was no COVID, in medical terms, then you were not alive; it means you passed away three days ago”, he added.