Opinion

2018 Budget: We Need More Than Cooking Competitions

The much anticipated budget for all sectors of Ghana’s economy for next year has been delivered and clearly, the statements made on the Creative industry especially, are confounding, discouraging and opaque.

Nobody is astounded about the Government’s fixation on Tourism; it is well understood, but when cooking competitions are getting premium and critical mention than the core issues of the Creative industry, then there’s cause for alarm.

This is what was said about how cooking competitions could transform the lives of practitioners of the industry, build the economy and elevate the sector;

  1. Mr. Speaker, the ‘See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana and Feel Ghana’ programme to boost the local economies and enable Ghanaians appreciate their heritage was launched. In 2018, a gastronomic festival will be organized to showcase Ghanaian foods and recipes through cooking competitions throughout the country as part of efforts to promote the local Ghanaian cuisine. It will continue to pursue the “Wear Ghana, See Ghana, Feel Ghana, Eat Ghana” campaign in 2018 to promote our beloved country in diverse ways.

In August this year, the Ghana Tourism Authority, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, organized the ‘Jollof Festival’ as part of the ‘Eat Ghana’ initiative.

Perhaps, that festival may have generated so much revenue, did boost the economy and did change lives of practitioners within that sector, prompting the Government to add it to next year’s budget. Unfortunately, it failed to tell Ghanaians, with figures, how that ‘Jollof festival’ was impactful.

On the Creative sector, this is what was stated;

  1. Mr. Speaker, Government will continue its initiatives to improve the Creative Arts Sector with the set-up of a fully functional Creative Arts Secretariat and commencement of a feasibility to set up a Creative Arts Fund.

Feasibility by this time? And Creative Arts Secretariat to do what? But wait; what initiatives has the Government already done that it is continuing?

Let me remind the Minister of Finance, the hardworking team that wrote the budget and all the industry folks that were consulted for their input, that, surely, there are critical matters that need attention, far more important than competitions for who would be best to mix rice and tomatoes on fire.

Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta – Minister of Finance

Legislative Instrument (LI) For The Film Act

In September this year, thousands of film producers and actors thronged the streets of Kumasi to demonstrate against the upsurge of foreign telenovelas and also called for the passing of an LI for the Film Act – an Act that promulgates the exhibition of more local content on our television screens.

These disgruntled citizens, who depend heavily on the production, marketing and distribution of local film and television content, have made a genuine case for that sector of the industry – a sector that employs millions of people and when well-structured, could be gratifying for practitioners as well as fetch the country lots of revenue.

In the same 2018 Budget, prominence was given to other LIs to help strengthen their respective sectors;

143: The Dam Safety Regulations LI 2236 was adopted to support the development, management, commissioning and decommissioning of diverse water storage facilities throughout the country and is expected to enhance the implementation of the “One-Village-One-Dam” initiative.

But wait, there’s more;

176: In 2018, the Ministry will continue the process of passing the Legislative Instruments of the National Youth and Sports Act, pursue the enactment of the draft National Sports College Bill and create a Sports Fund to improve sports development in the country.

The film industry and its relevance to the country is relegated to the doldrums, yet, these same old politicians and Institutional heads won’t stop making noise about how film is supposed to be the tool for shaping and driving the core values of the nation. Stop the nuisance already!

Madam Catherine Afeku – Minister of Tourism

The Creative Arts Bill

The Budget’s mention of the setting up of a functional Creative Arts Secretariat depicts how confused the Government and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture are on what to do with the Creative Arts.

One moment, the Minister is inaugurating a Creative Arts Council, with a mandate to oversee proceedings within the sector and be that link to government – and another moment, the Government is also announcing the set-up of a certain Creative Arts Secretariat. Which is which?

In all these, the mention of the Creative Arts Bill, which gives the room for the creation of a Council and the implementation of the Creative Arts Fund is missing, yet, other Bills are once again given prominence in the same Budget.

Check this out;

158: The Pre-Tertiary Bill approved by Cabinet proposes the devolution of the management of Basic Schools to the Assemblies and management of Senior High Schools at Ghana Education Service (GES) and Ministry of Education (MoE) Headquarters. In 2018, the Bill will be laid before Parliament.

In April this year, the Deputy Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Ziblim Iddi, stated that, the Ministry would fast track the Creative Arts Bill to get the sector to be fully integrated into the tourism industry. Obviously, he didn’t know what he was blurting!

What is even more confusing is that, a Committee which comprised of members from different groupings of the creative industry, was put together by the previous government and made to draft the Bill, but after the change of government, nothing is being said of that draft.

What Happens To Unfulfilled Provisions In 2017 Budget?

In the 2017 Budget, this was captured;

‘The Efua Sutherland Park will also be developed into an ultra-modern world class Park through a PPP arrangement.’

Let’s even give the government the benefit of doubt and assume it has acquired that PPP arrangement and ready to start the development of the Park, why the failure to mention it in the 2018 Budget?

Oh yes, there was one provision in the 2017 Budget that was and is still being implemented perfectly; the Ministry’s continuous participation in international conferences, fairs and exhibitions.

The Minister and her posse have indeed traveled the world, and are still traveling to such conferences in a bid to research on international trends in Tourism. We applaud them!

Arnold Asamaoh-Baidoo

 

 

 

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