Dearly beloved citizens and men and women of goodwill resident in Ghana, we, the heads of the Member-Churches of the Christian Council of Ghana and the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, send you our warmest greetings of peace and love.
We believe that the joy of the Risen Lord and the hope of Easter still remain with you all.
Deliberations of the Joint Meeting
We have just concluded our May 2015 Annual Joint Meeting at Osu-Accra, during which we prayed and deliberated on issues of both Church and national importance. At the end of our meeting, we feel obliged as Christian leaders of our land to bring the following pertinent issues affecting our country to the attention of our Government and our citizens so we can all participate in the process of fashioning out a plan of action to address these issues together as one united people.
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)
We have followed with worry and anxiety all the happenings about the National Health Insurance Scheme and wish to state that we are very concerned about the sustainability of the Scheme if the current difficulties with it are not resolved expeditiously.
The continuous and repeated failure to reimburse facilities on time, the incessant threats of service withdrawal by service providers, among others, continue to plague the Scheme. Our health facilities are collapsing under the Scheme and the frustration of both staff and patients is unbearable.
In the present circumstances, therefore, we invite Government as a matter of urgency to come out to inform the citizenry about the true state of the Scheme and give us a clear roadmap for its sustainability or otherwise. We will equally appreciate a broad stakeholder consultation on the issue and we are ready to lead the process. Our institutions pioneered health insurance schemes in the country before it was adopted as a national policy.
Memorandum of Understanding on Church – State Partnership in Education
Over the years, Religious and other Bodies with schools have partnered the State in education service delivery and this has ensured easy access, academic excellence and holistic moral upbringing of students in schools. Unfortunately, the absence of any document to guide this Partnership over the years has led to the gradual and systematic weakening of our stake in education delivery, evident in the lack of collaboration with our Educational Managers, the withdrawal of their stipends and the general frustration of their work by some officials of the Ghana Education Service.
We think that it is truly unfair and objectionable to continue to ignore Religious and other Bodies who are major stakeholders in education service delivery in Ghana. We therefore call on Government as a matter of urgency to hasten the signing of the Education Partnership document and put in place the necessary structures and systems to ensure that it works and is respected by all.
We have received with surprise news that Ghana faces a real and serious risk of falling into the league of High Debt Distress Countries (HDDC) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the basis of Ghana’s excessive borrowing and indebtedness which is estimated to be about 76 billion Ghana Cedis as at December last year. We believe this is a cause for worry considering the fact that we came out of HIPC not too long ago. We call on the Government to do all it can to save the economy of our country from its current unstable and precarious state.
Meanwhile, we sincerely think that there is the need to revisit both the spirit and agenda of the Senchi Consensus which made concrete proposals to solve Ghana’s economic woes. We wish to know whether it has been abandoned due to the IMF bailout package or it has been incorporated into it.
We also pray that Government will listen to the calls of individuals and groups including Religious Bodies for the development of a long-term National Development Plan for our country, and initiate the process to develop one that will be respected and implemented by successive governments.
District Assembly Elections and 2016 General Elections
We seek to know what the plans are for the suspended District Assembly elections as well as the road map for Ghana’s General Elections in 2016. We propose that the Electoral Commission should begin in earnest the process of engagement with all stakeholders on the way forward for these elections. Pertinent issues such as the Voters’ Register, Biometric verification, creation of constituencies, among others, need to be addressed now. Related critical issues include the needed reforms to Ghana’s electoral system as per the various recommendations and the early and transparent appointment of a new Chairman of the Electoral Commission.
The year 2016 may seem far but it is not. Thus, we appeal to the EC to act expeditiously.
Constitution Review Process
We are not happy about the fact that the Constitution review process seems stalled and yet there is no feedback from Government to citizens on plans to either continue or discontinue the process. We are aware of the case pending before the Supreme Court but we will be glad to receive information on how the process will be carried forward in the aftermath of this case so that we can all participate actively and fully in the process.
Petroleum Exploration and Revenue Management
It is our hope that proposals for the amendment of the current Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) will be considered in the light of the good of Ghana so that Ghana and its citizens will be the greatest beneficiaries of the oil and gas find. We welcome Government’s efforts to introduce appropriate legislation to address current challenges of Petroleum exploration and production and call for an open and inclusive process with relevant stakeholders to achieve a good law.
We are also unhappy about the funding arrangements made for the oversight responsibility of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) which has remained a big challenge for some time now and call on government and corporate Ghana to help address this difficulty.
Power Outages in Ghana (Dumsor)
The current unfortunate situation of dumsor is seriously affecting the overall economy of the country. Industries, businesses and other social and economic activities are dying off gradually and systematically. In spite of Government’s promises and actions to ameliorate the situation, for close to 3 years, we have seen no improvement. We vehemently condemn the lack of serious practical short-term solutions to the crisis. Things are really hard for the productivity sector and waiting for too long will not do us any good.
Persecution of Christians in the World
We have noted with sadness and grief the systematic and persistent persecution and murder of Christians on the African continent and elsewhere in the world by Islamist terrorist groups. We strongly condemn these atrocities and call on all Ghanaians to pray for an end to these senseless killings.
In this connection, we commend the National Chief Imam, Sheik Dr. Usumanu Nuhu Sharubutu, for his appeal to Imams and leaders of the Muslim communities in Ghana to caution members of their congregations against the possible penetration of ideological influence of extremist groups. In particular, we commend him for his appeal to Imams to use their sermons to encourage members of their congregations to be watchful to identify and expose foreigners who may infiltrate the communities with signs of connection with extremists groups like Boko Haram and Al Qaeda, among others. As Ghanaians, we must continue to live in peace and harmony with one another and eschew all acts and tendencies that may bring ethnic, religious or political conflicts to Ghana.
Migration outside Africa
We are saddened by the news of many African migrants perishing in the deserts of northern Africa and the Mediterranean Sea and call on African states and Governments to institute proactive measures to curb this menace. We strongly urge African governments to do all they can to create the necessary conducive political and socio-economic environments and employment opportunities for our teeming unemployed youth. We equally encourage African youth to stay in their home countries and work hard to earn their daily keep. They must not assume that Europe and other places outside Africa guarantee automatic comforts and pleasure.
We pray that the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit may be with us all. God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong!
MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU
PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
RT. REV. PROF. EMMANUEL K. MARTEY
CHAIRMAN, CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF GHANA
Thursday, May 07, 2015