Albert B. Sackey writes: Common sense versus POPULISM

The President launched the restoration of Nursing trainees allowances with much fun fair and pageantry. At the launch he took a swipe at the previous administration for being inhuman and subjecting the trainees to hardship.

I believe that in the implementation of some key promises the President has succumbed more to populist sentiments than to cool rational thinking otherwise referred to as common sense.

The first fall out of the restoration of allowances is the return of the quota system. It is known that nursing training institutions have been made to restrict intake in order to reduce the numbers due to the burden on the budget of the restored allowances. The implication is that many young Ghanaians either aspiration to pursue qualification in
the nursing profession would be denied the opportunity.

The second fall out is the difficulty of government to employ these trainee nurses after they have completed their courses. According to the President himself, the restoration will cost the budget, that is from the consolidated fund, Ghc 232 million every year. A newly recruited nurse I am informed begins on a salary just above Ghc 1,000. This amounts to some Ghc 12,000 per annum. The annual budget for the restored trainee allowances therefore of Ghc 232 million could create space for government to recruit about 19,300 nurses every year. This definitely would have bought Mr. President’s Health Minister some peace of mind from the frequent picketing of his office by unemployed
nurse trainees.

The third fall out is the continued maintenance of inequity among trainees. Only recently, Agric technician trainees have served notice that they intend to picket in order to be put on trainee allowances as their counterpart teacher trainees and nursing trainees. The previous administration’s intention to put all trainees on student loans, would
have created uniformity and equity. Students would receive loans when in training and would only start paying over a prolonged period after they gain employment.

I believe if the President received the proper rational common sense counsel he will not have rushed into taking such a populist decision. It is a matter of the victory of populism over common sense. As it is, the young trainees who cheered the President widely at the launch, are like the hiker “drinking all his water before starting his hike across
the desert”. Good luck.

My response:
Just last month,government had to rely on interest free loans from GCB,ADB and NIB to pay salaries.
Government is borrowing to pay salaries. Just one nursing training school,Health Assistant Clinical program, admission has fallen from 450 to 75. Just because of the quota system.

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