The government is making significant strides to achieve targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) despite effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, has said.
According to him, although the “road to recovery will be long and hard, we have started on a good footing by accepting we are in a difficult place and are taking the difficult decisions that will get us out and to achieve the SDGs by 2030.”
He was delivering Ghana’s second Voluntary National Review (VNR) report at a High Level Political Forum (HLPF) under the auspices of the United Nations-Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The VNR presented the state of implementation of all 17 SDGs providing an analysis of key actions in implementing the global goals; progress made, constraints faced as well as opportunities to be explored.
This year’s HLPF was on the theme “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” .
It sought to reflect on how recovery policies by governments could reverse the negative impacts of the pandemic on the SDGs and move countries on a path to realising the 2030 Agenda.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour noted that due to the downscale of economic activities as a result of the pandemic, poverty had increased to 25.5 percent at the end of 2020, after decades of consistent decline.
Consequently, he said government had instituted measures to mitigate the burden on citizens through programmes such as the “Ghana CARES” and “You Start” initiatives to transform the economy, create jobs and prosperity over a three and half year period, as well as promote entrepreneurship among the youth respectively.
“The results of recent COVID-19 tracker surveys show these actions are having the right effect. Government stimulus package to businesses led to an increase in firm sales by 11.5 per cent, with small firms benefitting the most at 22 per cent,” he said.
Touching on the health sector, the Development Economist said health-related expenditure had increased considerably following the COVID-19 pandemic, citing for instance government “Agenda 111” which sought to boost healthcare infrastructure across the country.
The expansion and leverage of medical drone delivery services, he noted, was helping to eliminate stock outs, cold chain breakages and accelerate health emergency response in hard-to-reach areas.
With net enrolment ratio declining at all levels of the educational ladder, Prof. Gyan-Baffour said government was working at improving access to quality education.
“The Free SHS Policy, introduced in 2017, continues to provide access to education, particularly for low-income households. Post the easing of restrictions, improvements have been recorded in children who engaged in any type of learning activity – increasing from 62.2 percent to 71.3 percent from June to September in 2020.”
On gender equality under goal five of the SDGs, the NDPC Chair noted general improvement in women participation across all levels of public discourse while internet coverage has reached close to 81 percent of the population, thereby providing the enabling environment to push government’s digitalisation agenda.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour said moving forward, government was committed to building effective linkages between planning and resource allocation while forging multi-stakeholder partnerships for innovation and resource mobilisation.
BY TIMES REPORTER