According to ISSER, over 150,000 more Ghanaians have joined the poverty bracket; pushing the poverty levels from 28.5 percent in 2005 to 29.2 percent.
At an event to review the mid-year performance of the Ghanaian economy last week, Dr. Charles Ackah, an Economist and a research fellow of ISSER said:
“The poverty rate, which according to the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) was 28.5 percent in 2006, has risen to 29.2 percent; indicating that over 150,000 have been pushed below the poverty line.”
According to the 2006 GLSS report, poverty indicators showed remarkable improvement, declining from 39.5 percent in 1998 to 28.5 percent in 2005 on the average.
The survey further indicated that most of the poverty reductions were concentrated in the Forest Regions of the country (both urban and rural), while the Northern Savannah Region appeared to have been left behind in the national poverty reduction trend.
Even though the poverty headcount index in the Northern Savannah region was smaller in 2006 than in 1998, the national trends in poverty reduction showed an increase in the share of the poor living standards in the rural savannah areas.
Dr. Ackah emphasized the need for government to invest in the Northern regions in order to create more jobs and to improve their general living conditions.
According to him, government should not focus its growth agenda on only figures, but rather on job creation, infrastructure development, improvement in agriculture and the manufacturing industry, which has the tendency to create more jobs.
He attributed the trend of unsustainable growth to the structure of the economy, which mainly depends on gold, cocoa and timber, noting, “We can restructure of the Ghanaian economy by improving export commodities, finding new markets, identifying new export commodities and making progress on fiscal consolidation.”
On the implications of the global economic downturn, Dr. Ackah called for serious policies for the agriculture industry, saying “the price of food has risen lately since it dropped significantly last year; a situation that could have serious ramifications for the poor and vulnerable.”
“As a developing economy, we should be worried over sharp increases in the prices of items and higher inflation rates, especially in the Northern regions of our country,” Dr. Ackah reiterated.
He however cautioned government to be mindful of the Bretton Woods institutions, which usually imposes stringent conditions to their aid packages, adding that these conditions could stifle growth and increase poverty among the people.
The Director of ISSER, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, revealed that the Manufacturing and Agriculture sectors of the economy recorded a slow growth rate, although the country's annual growth rates had been consistent for the last four years.
He recommended a stimulus package for the country's economy, adding, “There is the need to think seriously about domestic resources. It is about time to look at areas where government spending could create investments, skills for students and young graduates in order not to overburden the fiscal situation of the country.”
By Charles Nixon Yeboah
Source: Daily Guide - Daily Guide