Parliament asked to consider setting up Public Productivity Committee

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Samuel Kobina Annim
Samuel Kobina Annim
Spining

Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician and Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), has asked Parliament to consider setting up a Public Productivity Committee to exact answers on productivity from public entities.

He said that was necessary to boost the country’s level of productivity on all fronts and mitigate its vulnerabilities induced by dependencies on foreign aid.

He proposed that unlike the Public Accounts Committee, which was solely concerned with expenditure, the Public Productivity Committee would haul heads of various public institutions before it to give account of their outputs annually.

“Once we are clear in our mind how to map our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the various ministries which I have tasked my team to do, renewal of tenures should be based on productivity per sector. It worked for UCC from a research point of view and it will definitely work for this country if Parliament considers a public productivity committee,” he said.

Professor Annim was delivering his professorial inaugural lecture at UCC on Thursday on the theme: “Data-policy transitions: Perspective of economic variables.”

Professor Annim observed that the exclusion of five major variables, namely; productivity, inequality, trade vulnerability, capital flight and stocks of grain from Ghana’s economic indicators was the bane of the country’s transition from economic growth to economic development.

The variables, which he considered extremely crucial, he noted never found expression in any of the Country’s State of the Economy publications, reports from the Bank of Ghana or those of Ghana Statistical Service (GSS).

Advancing his case for the need to enhance productivity, he said Ghana could increase its GDP based on its output on hourly, weekly or monthly basis.

However, he observed that average earning (GHC3,420) at the public sector was about twice the output per person (GHC1,420).

Touching on trade vulnerabilities which is usually occasioned by low or no productivity, the GSS boss, said it was extremely dangerous for Ghana to rely on one country for single commodities.

Citing the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on inflation, he expressed worry that Ghana was only tracking its trade variable but not paying attention to its susceptibility to what was happening in other countries.

“If you are relying on China for about 30 per cent of the value of import, assuming there was an invasion or something in China, what will happen?” he questioned.

Professor Annim went on to advocate the issue of stock of grains and price variation as a matter of national importance as food prices constituted 50 per cent of inflation.

He said the absence of a reliable data for ‘stock to use ratio’ was problematic and challenged the Economic Department and the School of Agriculture of UCC to fill the vacuum.

He said the levels of disparities in prices for the same commodity in the event of economic instabilities was troubling and therefore called on government to intervene.

“The human factor in the variation in prices during economic turmoil is significant. There was stability in prices across the 54 outlets of Gino rice when nothing was happening in 2018.

“But during the pandemic and the invasion in Ukraine, the variations were phenomenal with some markets selling 5KG of imported Gino rice for over GHC108, but it has now reduced to around GHC68.” he said.

He also urged government to make available the various prices of commodities to consumers for them to make informed decisions.

Professor Annim further intimated that very little attention was paid to inequality as an economic indicator, saying “we have only used inequality from a consumption expenditure point of view”.

According to him, inequality was the basis of all socio-economic ills including robbery attacks and sexual harassment due to economic power disparities.

He further demonstrated the extent to which capital flight was a challenge to Ghana and how difficult it was to plan due to its volatility.

Capital flight defines monies that are in one country but end up in another through legal or foul means.

He said capital flight was about 20.8 per cent of GDP in 2010 adding that “so, we need to start having a conversation on capital flight and discuss it in the context of importance between other macroeconomic variables.”

Professor Annim received a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Manchester in 2010.

Based on his scholarship and track record, he was promoted to Associate Professor of Economics in 2013 and Professor of Economics in 2018.

He has made scholarly contributions to the field of Micro-Development Economics and Applied Micro-Econometrics with 42 peer-reviewed journal articles, five book chapters, 18 technical reports and four policy briefs.

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