Joyce Danso, GNA
Accra, Nov.09, GNA - Government has been tasked to step up its commitment in addressing the deepening of inequality in education, health care and the labour market.
Dr. Emmanuel Ayifah, Deputy Country Director, SEND Ghana who said this, explained that that a few people of the population were benefiting from the economic growth whilst majority were being denied essential elements that made them live dignified lives.
Dr. Ayifah said inequality was at a crisis level in West Africa, and that more than 30 per cent of the population in West Africa were living on less than 1.90 dollar a day.
He was speaking at a meeting with some stakeholders on Policy Engagement on the Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI, and False Promises (EP, reports in Accra.
The meeting also discussed some findings and recommendations on a research carried out by SEND Ghana and Oxfam, a non-governmental organization on three pillars-dependence on health, education and social protection, progressivity of tax policy, the labour market and rights.
The meeting also brought together some Members of Parliament, officials from the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ministries of Education and Gender, Children and Social Protection.
Dr. Ayifah noted that West Africa had seen impressive economic growth in the past two decades and their successes were driven by the extractive industries.
He was elated that Ghana was one of the fast growing economies in the world but noted that the benefits of economic growth had gone a few people.
The Deputy Country Director of SEND Ghana urged government to spend sufficiently on universal quality public services that reduced the gap between the rich and the poor.
“Government should allocate a minimum of 15 per cent of budget to fund public health sector that is free of charge, universal, easily accessible and of high quality”.
Dr. Ayifah called for the enactment of universal social protection programmes, adequately funded by the state for the benefit of the poor.
On the labour market, Dr. Ayifah said government should review wage policies and regulatory regime to lift wages of wage earners.
“Legislate to enforce equal pay for equal work for men and women and invest more in skills and on the job training”, Dr. Ayifah added.
On agriculture, he lauded government for the introduction of Planting for Food and Jobs among others but appealed to government to develop a National Agriculture Investment Plan that would be gender sensitive to support small scale farmers in non-cash crop sector.
He asked government to bridge the rural urban divide by ensuring that there was a balance between public investments in rural and urban areas.
On education, Dr. Ayifah stressed the need for government to devote more resources for public education.
Mrs. Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, Senior Programmes Officer, SEND Ghana stressed the need to increase pro-poor programmes coverage as well as ensure proper targeting of beneficiaries of such programmes.
Mr. Philip Bosoah, Vice Chairperson of Parliamentary Select Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises noted that the issue of inequality could be solved partly through education.