Economic Downturn!

— Hard Times, Ghanaians grumble

The nation’s economic downturn is fast taking its toll on the socio-economic conditions of consumers and people in the country.

Findings by The Republic correspondent have revealed that the increasing prices of consumer goods and the epileptic power supply have combined, among other factors, to worsen the situation in the country.

A three-month consumer survey (March 1- May,31, 2017) by our correspondent further revealed that there is no better life change since the coming into power by  the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by Nana Akufo-Adddo.

The situation is so pathetic that cost of some items, such as sachet water, has increased from GHc3.00 to GHc3.50 and, in some cases, GHc4.00 per sachet-bag, while a bottle of water (s/s) now sells for GHc1.50, instead of GHc1.00, the medium size bottle of water is sold  at GHc2.00, while the large side is now also sold at GHC2.50 or GHC3.00. The worst hit of all the staple foods are rice and cassava flakes, known as ‘garri.’

Up until late February, this year, the price of a yellow paint bucket of ‘garri’ used to sell for GHc7.50, while the white colour type sold for GHC6.50.  But from the first week of March, the price of yellow and white was GHc15.00 and GHc10.50 respectively.

A bag of rice (40 kilogrammes), regardless of the brand, is selling for GHc150.00 as against GHc120.00, GHc95 and GHc105.00, depending on the brand. A plastic bag of rice (16 cups) sells for GHc10.00 instead of GHc7.00 or GHc6.50.  ‘America’ cup of rice that used to be 70 pesewas now sells for GHc1.00 or 90 pesewas.

In the last few months, the costs of goods and services, as well as transportation, have soared considerably with the attendant agonies for residents. A trader in Madina market, Madam Eunice Afiagbe, said: “When you go to the market today, things are expensive. The next time you go items would have further increased in price. Even artisans are generally relying on fuel to do their jobs; power supply has been really bad lately. That means their charges would increase and this would also have negative effect on the economy.”

The same story of agony was shared by Kwame Amoako, a commercial driver, who plies his trade on Adentan-Madina-Accra route. He said petrol is now being sold at GHc17.45 per litre at many filling stations.

Panic Grips Consumers

The Republic visited the Madina, Mallam-Atta, Adabraka, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Nima and Okashie markets in La Nkwantanang-Madina Municipality and Accra Metropolitan Assemblies respectively, to examine the development and confirm the fears raised by Ghanaians as they express concern recent cost of consumer goods and services.

Some consumers, who spoke to our correspondent, expressed sadness over the high prices of goods in the market. For Mr. Inusah Garo, a rice retailer at Mallam-Atta, “the situation of the Ghana economy is affecting everybody. I have never experienced what is happening now since I started this business.”

He said: “People are complaining seriously because there is no money in this country and prices of goods are on the high side, I am not happy with the business I do any longer because we are dealing with food, it is true people cannot do without food, but I now have to explain to any customer that comes around, some will understand and some will think you are unnecessarily hiking the price. it is really difficult for many Ghanaians but I believe things will get better with time.”

On her part, Ms Akweley Okine, a consumer in her late 40s, said Ghanaians are now regretting the choice of the present leadership. She expressed disappointment over the Nana Akufo-Addo administration, stressing that what she and her family were facing was the opposite of what they expected from the President.

“I came to this market with GHc200,  the small bottle of vegetable oil that goes for GHc5.00 is now GHc6.50 and GHc7.00,  a dozen of sachet tomatoes before now was GHc9.00 but it now goes for GHc12.00, while a paint container of ‘garri’ is almost double the price it used to be,” she lamented.

The prices of several foodstuff, like corn, millet, beans, tomatoes, onions, pepper, garden eggs and animals, especially goats, imported from neighbouring Niger and Burkina-Faso prices have all shot up, making lives very unbearable.

Hard Times in Ghana

The average Ghanaian who spoke to our correspondent now laments the catalogue of issues, ranging from frequent fuel price, inflation, security challenges to worsening health services, as most of them claim the cost of renewal of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been doubled, bedevilling Ghanaians.

Speaking with The Republic, Savior Atsu, a cold store owner, lamented the frequent power outages in the country since the current NPP-led government assumed power.

“The electricity bills and the power on and off, as we call it ‘dumsor, dumsor,’ under this administration is unexpected at all, it is killing,” he said, adding “We all know there is unstable power supply in the country and most people rely on generator which is powered by the petrol. As we speak, there is no definite price or fixed price for fuel due to deregulation of supply of the petroleum product.

Although the Nana Addo’s-led government promised during the 2016 general elections to cut down electricity bills, consumers say they feel being betrayed as things are getting worse.

“We complained so much but government is doing nothing about our plight. Almost every day our lights go off and come back at the time our customers have left us,” Atsu lamented.

Some consumers who spoke with The Republic stated that if the government was sincere with its commitment to the change mantra, some of the budgetary allocation money should have at least been channelled to fix the economy and reduce the sufferings of Ghanaians.

Poverty is now walking the streets’

“Poverty is now walking the streets” is a common refrain among folks in Pigfarm and Kotobabi communities in Accra, as the economy bites harder leaving the people cursing the “change” mantra brought as a slogan by the present administration.

“Things are really difficult in the country and the astronomical increase in electricity bills, fuel, foodstuff, fruits and every other thing makes me feel like leaving the country for good,” says Mr. Kwame Ahorlu, a retired civil servant, at Abavana Down, Kotobabi.

Ahorlu’s frustration is further demonstrated by Vivian Mensah, a ‘Kenkey ’ seller who said the high cost of foodstuff and the decision of most people to buy ‘kenkey’ without fish has left her struggling to meet up with her many daily challenges.

For instance, in five different private schools(names withheld)  in the Oyarifa area, currently taking part in  the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), only about 50 per cent of parents have paid their children’s school fees. A trend they described as strange and confusing.

“All we get are apologies and promises from parents,” a school principal claimed. Mr. Tony Oko, who manages one of the biggest drinking spots at Adenta Barrier, along the Adenta-Dodowa road, said in an interview that sales had dropped from about 20 cartons of assorted drinks daily to less than seven since January, forcing him to sack over 50 per cent staff in his joint.

The Situation Is Unbearable

The situation can best be described as unbearable in the Okashie market area,  as consumers are daily greeted with frustrations occasioned by the realities of the high cost of food items and other things in markets and retail outlets across the metropolis.

Mr. George Odame, a trader in school and travelling bags, speaking with our correspondent, said: “My experience so far is that things are harder than what they were in the past. Even if government said, it is so because they are yet to settle down and that it would be tough in a short period, we never expected that it would be this tough. We were getting power supply daily before but now at time we don’t see it f or 30 minutes in this area. The other day I went to the ECG office near Tema station and bought some power credit, it did not last for three hours. I bought it at about 11:am and by 2- 3:30pm my lights went off.”

The much-talked about change by the present government is a mirage.” On her part, Naa Amerley Djamah, a businesswoman, said: “We are in a terrible situation in this country. When this administration was campaigning, they said they are going to ensure that the economy is stable for investment.

Samson Selbey, a pharmacist, said he was disappointed with what is presently happening in the country as the unfolding hard economic realities are a true reflection of the change Ghanaians yearned for.”

“The masses have not had it so bad like this; everything is on the high side, the masses cannot afford it and even civil servants’ the month take-home package cannot buy anything. So, it is a gory experience, the country is drifting aimlessly,” he said.

He added, “The NPP-led government both at the local and central government levels have abandoned the masses; nothing is working. They only came with sacking and dismissing of previous government officials, claiming they are fighting corruption, is it what the masses will eat?”

Relieving his discomfiture, a second-hand clothes dealer at Nkrumah Circle, John Adjei, told The Republic that he was deeply confused, saying “whether this democracy we are witnessing is really that of change or chains. Many of us were eager to send off former President John Mahama, not bothering to weigh the strength and capability of Nana Akufo-Addo to take us to our expected Promised Land.”

The change mantra, he stated, that many of them embraced has turned into a mirage, adding, “NPP is just a necessary evil we will have to endure till 2020, the way I see it.”




Source: therepublicnewsonline.comFelix Engsalige Nyaaba


The Republic News Online

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